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The Prisoner


Daredevil: The Devil, Inside and Out, Vol. 1

Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark

Marvel, 2006

Rating: 4.5


Posted: December 1, 2006

By Vincenzo

When Shaking Through's illustrious editor-in-chief Kevin Forest Moreau dropped me an e-mail suggesting I might be interested in reviewing the latest Daredevil trade paperback, I gotta admit I was more than a little skeptical. I don't really do the comic-book thing -- not that I have anything against 'em, and in fact I've enjoyed quite a few of the comic-book movies that keep coming down the pike these days. I just never really got into 'em, and I figured by now I'm a little too old, you know what I'm sayin'? But then he set the hook: "Trust me," he replied. "If you like liked Oz -- you will dig this. I guarantee it."

How can you resist a sell like that? So I took a chance, and I gotta tell you, this is one hard core book. Moreau tells me that the writer, a guy named Ed Brubaker, has done some crime writing before, and I'm gonna have to track some of that stuff down. It might also be cool to flip through a couple of the trades (listen to me now, sounding like a regular fan) collecting the previous run by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, but to Brubaker's credit, it's not necessary to have read all that to get into what's going on here.

You get the gist pretty quick: Blind attorney Matt Murdock, who is also the costumed crime-fighter Daredevil, is in jail -- at Ryker's Island, no less -- awaiting trial for being a costumed vigilante [which ties in nicely with Marvel's current Civil War event Editor] and other related charges. Needless to say, there's a lot of bad guys in there who'd love to get a crack at him, including some funny looking dude named Hammerhead, a Latin supervillain called the Black Tarantula, some loser called the Owl and of course Daredevil's longtime foe, the Kingpin of Crime. The FBI has a serious hard-on for him, to boot, and they can't be too happy with this mysterious other Daredevil who starts prowling the streets of Hell's Kitchen, which prompts grizzled Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich (with the help of private eye Dakota North) to try to figure out what's what.

From there, Brubaker opens up a can of extra-strength whoop-ass and serves it with a shot of bourbon. One of Murdock's best friends gets knifed, and Murdock gets thrown out of protective custody into the general population. He also wades knee deep into prison politics, navigating his way through rival factions (and the warden), trying to keep from taking a shiv to the ribs and kicking copious ass in the process. Oh, and one of his deadliest enemies -- the assassin Bullseye -- shows up as well, along with the Punisher. Competing agendas end up going head-to-head, and the you-know-what hits the fan.

I admit I don't know a lot about this kind of stuff, but I got to throw some credit to artists Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano, and colorist Frank D'armata, who bring all this to life in a suitably gritty style. The colors in particular go a long way to establishing the tone, between the murky black and the brackish sewer-green of the prison backdrop, the muddy browns of the courtroom scenes and the various understated dingy settings of the outside sequences.

Credit where it's due, Moreau was right: There's enough dirty politics (both in prison and out), government conspiracy and blood-pumping violence to appeal to fans of both Oz and Prison Break. Ed Brubaker grounds these characters perfectly in this brutal, seedy world, and throws a lit match into a powder-keg of a setup. Looks like I'm gonna have to start picking this mag up every month to get my fix.

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 Ratings Key:
 5.0: Breaks new ground
 4.0-4.9: First-rate
 3.0-3.9: Solid
 2.0-2.9: Mediocre
 1.1-1.9: Bad
 0.0-1.0: The worst

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