Hidden Gems – Daredevil: Decalogue

With so many big names and big events plastered across the shelves of your LCS, sometimes great comics get left behind – buried in longboxes until someone comes along to find these Hidden Gems.

Daredevil Vol. 12, issues # 71-75
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev

Bendis and Maleev’s run on Daredevil is one of the greatest in the title’s history. Those stories matter today almost ten years later and that’s not true of a lot of comics, especially the ever-revolving door of superhero comics. But Daredevil has always been a little different in that regard. In the middle of their run, Matt Murdock, having been outed in the press as Daredevil, took the fight directly to the Kingpin and beat him within an inch of his life. He then threw him through Josie’s bar and declared that if the scum of the city so badly needed someone to lord over them, that from then on, it would be him. He’d be the Kingpin.

The monologue he gives in that scene is still one of the most powerful I’ve ever read in comics and “Decalogue” has a flashback scene that gives us another chance to read it in its entirety, and that’s more than okay. It comes from one member of a Daredevil support group. A local priest has called together some people to talk about the Daredevil/Kingpin situation and what it means for people and the community. Everyone in the room has had some encounter with Daredevil and we’re shown their stories, some because they share them with the group and others through unspoken flashbacks. It’s the kind of dirty gritty storytelling that Bendis and Maleev do better than just about anyone else in comics.

But there’s a connection between these people beyond Daredevil. Many of them have been touched by an evil the likes of which they’ve never seen. What does it mean and what does it have to do with the smug stranger in their group? After some really disturbing imagery, the reveal is equally disturbing. The climax is a quiet one, but that fits with the overall quiet and brooding tone of the story as a whole. From the first few pages, it’s clear that this isn’t a story that’s going to end with a big superhero fight and it doesn’t. There are definitely moments of action beautifully rendered by Maleev in some of the flashbacks, but that’s not where the meat of the story is. The meat is in the human interactions and Maleev nails these moments just as good as the action. “Decalogue” plays to all of his strengths as an artist and this quiet little horror story (because really, this is a horror story) stands out in a run that is gold from beginning to end.

Yes, “Decalogue” is part of the ongoing story that came before and after it, but as a standalone story, it’s really effective. It tells you everything you need to know and delivers a satisfying (albeit quiet) ending that will leave you wanting more. It’s good comics, and can serve as introduction to the character in a really powerful way if you’re not already a fan. If you are a fan and somehow missed it, you owe it to yourself to find it.

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Lee Rodriguez is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panels On Pages. He is also a freelance graphic and web designer, action figure customizer, swell guy, and an awesome dad.

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  1. Robert Eddleman says:

    I was digging it until the reveal of what connected the people. That pulled me right out of the story. Bendis & Maleev’s run had been pretty grounded in “reality” (or as much as a super-hero comic could be), that the reveal rang a little hollow to me. Still, the stuff leading up to it is great.

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