I realize I played this card some weeks ago, but the second season of Daredevil is happening in ONE WEEK! To get myself even more pumped for the Netflix series (if that’s even possible), I’ve been reading through the Brian Michael Bendis run of the comics; my absolute favorite in the superhero genre. From the start, Bendis had a superb long-term concept for the Man Without Fear in breaking Daredevil down to his lowest point and then building him back up to be a better hero, but it was the visually arresting artwork of Alex Maleev that brought the gritty aesthetic of the story to the forefront.
The covers were always striking in their abstract fashion, but the most powerful, in my opinion, came with Issue #50, in which the finale of the Hardcore story arc culminated in Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk going out of his way to regain his criminal empire and troll the living shit out of Daredevil in the process.
The lion share of the issue was an all out slugfest between these bitter enemies that resulted in Matt Murdock unmasking himself in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen after beating Fisk to a bloody pulp, and declaring himself the new kingpin of the kitchen. It’s important to understand all of this so you can grasp the levels on which this cover works so well.
The cover features an unmasked Murdock slouched in a nondescript chair which slightly resembles a throne. This is awesome because it somewhat resembles the iconic Scarface imagery of Al Pacino ruling the underworld. Maleev is at his strongest with this cover, not only alluding to Daredevil’s proclamation at the end of the issue, but also conveying the emotional and physical toll that brought him to that breaking point. For a series of covers that are so abstract in a way, issue #50 manages to be the most on-the-nose of the Bendis/Maleev run. One could only hope the Netflix show’s sophomore season manages to be as emotionally resonant and visually provocative.