Speaking of “decompressed” comics … the quintessential example when the trend first got going was Daredevil by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, beginning with issue #26 of the Marvel Knights series.
As a whole, the run is fantastic. It shook up Daredevil’s status quo, and it stands apart as a distinctive era for the character, an era that built on what came before rather than rehashing the classics. Bendis’s snappy dialogue lent an engrossing new voice to the franchise, and Maleev’s gritty, sketchy style suited the world of Hell’s Kitchen perfectly.
But this is also a series that benefits from binge reading and suffers from a pace of 22 pages per month. Since the run is long since finished and compiled into collections, the latter no longer matters, though.
Issue #26 kicks off with a monologue that leads into an attention-grabbing inciting incident. The book cuts to Matt Murdock in court, which serves as a Daredevil primer—if you’ve never read a DD comic, the character’s essential components are covered here, not in any depth, but you get a foundation. And then disaster, during which Bendis foreshadows a major upcoming development without telegraphing it.
And that’s basically the first issue of the run. It takes about two seconds to read (even with monologues), but just enough happens, some basic exposition is knocked out of the way, we see Daredevil’s hyper-senses in action … and it’s all the start of something great.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis Omnibus vol. 1 (HC)
Appropriate For: ages 14 and up