Let’s talk “end” stories.
First popularized by Frank Miller with The Dark Knight Returns, end stories are hypothetical final stories of characters usually centered around their death. They’re a chance for creators to tell the great last story we won’t get because comics don’t work like that. They’re hit and for my money largely miss.
They’re miss because they don’t really have any purpose but imagining a dark conclusion. The character comes to a point late in life that’s miserable and has one last war. Hell this is such a common trope we even got a movie doing it, the brilliant Logan. They’re never fun. They’re always bleak.
So at least when Daredevil gets his finale, it’s fine that it’s a somber book. Daredevil has traditionally been as much fun to read as Requiem For a Dream. His life is a dark tragedy. And while many “ends” come from writers that much ownership on the character, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack, the book’s writers, have a strong claim to not only writing this story but really are for my money the best writers Matt Murdock ever had.
This book also has an all star team to work on the art. Klaus Janson pencilled most of the book with Bill Sienkiewicz finishing and pages from Alex Maleev and Mack himself. Only Miller feels missing but yeah, if any group of artists should draw this book it’s this team. So everything was in place for a solid hypothetical ending. And it’s an only so-so end I fear.
Daredevil: End of Days is hardly a bad book but it’s an aggressively mediocre book and it wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I cracked why. Daredevil has always been one of the most internal characters. His last story should reflect it. We should be in his head at the end. And we’re not because this book is Citizen Kane: Man Without Fear edition. This is structurally identical to that film. And it’s a bad fit.
Like Citizen Kane, the book focuses on the title character dying and his last word being a mystery. That word is Mapone and we will get an answer. Is it a satisfying one? No. But we get an answer. Again, it’s Kane all over. The story does at least have the advantage that its reporter is at least a prominent DD character, Ben Urich so we’re following someone who fits.
But it’s really not a good structure because instead of a lot of action we get a string of conversations. Nothing more than a greatest hits of characters in the book. And sure it’s fun to run into Echo or Typhoid Mary but they’re just talking. It’s a waste of them. I could be reading their original stories which are great. There’s a bit of action but really this is a book of conversations all saying “I have no idea.” And Daredevil is not a passive book.
So it’s a lot of padding for 8 issues. Sure there’s a few mysteries. But one is as easy to solve as a Scooby-Doo case and the other is out of nowhere. When you get the answer to Mapone it doesn’t feel natural. It’s random and leaves so many questions.
So it’s a bust. And more than anything else, it’s not truly the end for Daredevil. He dies but it’s not his “end” story. He’s not really in it. It’s not the hypothetical end he deserved.
And ironically his truly great The Dark Knight Returns story? It was already written long ago. It’s in continuity. It’s not his last story but it’s a perfect endcap to the character. You could read it and get closure. And that book is Born Again. It does the job this did not. It’s a miss for me.