We've crossed the halfway mark with "Daredevil: End of Days" #5, and Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz's journey through all of Daredevil's supporting cast (following Daredevil's death) has fallen into a distinct pattern, but if you're still reading this mini-series, you'll know that it's full of little gems. On that front, this issue does not disappoint.
The best part of this issue's writing is, easily, when Bendis and Mack have Ben Urich interview the Punisher. It's a four-page sequence, but in doing so they pack in more information about their idea of how both the Punisher and Daredevil should operate that it almost feels like a story bible. The Punisher is in a prison cell for the entire conversation but feels incredibly dangerous, even as he analyzes Daredevil's past in the way that a military officer would take down an enemy. In many ways, that's the quintessence of the Punisher. Locked up or on the loose, he's dangerous not just because of his weaponry but because of the way his mind views the world around him. It's a sharp scene based on that alone.
What I found especially interesting, though, was how Bendis and Mack have the Punisher describe Daredevil. Their description of Daredevil as the lawyer-turned-superhero is a person who's "precise, thought out, prepared." It's funny because their description of the character is in many ways more captivating than how the character is normally written -- including Bendis's and Mack's own times helming "Daredevil" -- but perhaps also says more about how difficult it could be to write a character that meticulous. In another book this might feel slightly discordant because it was at odds with what we'd seen elsewhere, but "Daredevil: End of Days" is the one place that it can work. This is, after all, a comic where people give their own memories and impressions of the deceased Daredevil. So even if it's not 100% accurate, it doesn't matter; it's how the others viewed him, and as a result a slightly off-kilter description is just that one person's opinion.
The basic plotting is pretty standard, though; by now you've come to recognize that it's Ben Urich talking to one person after another. This issue feels like Bendis and Mack are starting to wrap that method up, though; by having Urich visiting by his own description the bottom of the barrel of characters, it feels like a signal that things are about to change. The last page certainly hints along that nature too; it's a big dramatic moment that feels much more lively and energetic than what's come up until now. The quieter, introspective nature of "Daredevil: End of Days" up until this point has been nice, but I'm welcoming this shift to see where it takes us.
Janson and Sienkiewicz's collaboration looks great as ever. Janson's always had a slightly jagged, rough edge to his art so having Sienkiewicz ink him is a smart move. They're able to nail lots of little moments here to perfection, like the reflection of the Punisher's skull logo in Urich's glasses even as you can still see his eyes behind the lenses, or the individual hairs on the Punisher's chin. Sienkiewicz also paints a handful of pages here, and those splashes introducing each character are dramatic and fitting. Who knew an image of C-list villain Gladiator could look so exciting and dangerous, after all? With Sienkiewicz already inking the book it also means that they don't feel out of place, and if anything are much more integrated into the title than one might expect. And best of all, the final page of the issue has one of the best usages of speed lines that I've ever seen; it makes the characters involved not just feel like they're falling, but rather plummeting. It's dangerous and exciting all at once, and Janson and Sienkiewicz have captured those emotions perfectly.
I'm hoping that "Daredevil: End of Days" #5 really is the turning point that it feels like it's promising. I've enjoyed the series up until now, but with three issues left it could also use a slight kick in the pants to keep the reader's attention. If this is indeed the start of the page picking up a bit, I won't say no to that. For now, it's a promising chapter in a good mini-series.