Page 45 Review by Stephen
Power and influence, particularly in relationships. This is the conclusion to Miller's first, most famous and substantial stint on DAREDEVIL along with a few sundry extras and the magnificent, original DAREDEVIL: LOVE AND WAR graphic novel illustrated by Sienkiewicz which starred the Kingpin's best ever waistcoats.
Elektra is dead (and contrary to some interpretations of the finale, she was emphatically not left alive by the end of this) and Matt is falling apart. A second dose of radiation has driven his senses into overload so that every whisper is a shout, every rustle is a roar and every roar of an engine in a gridlocked Manhattan brings him to his knees. Meanwhile he's done his best to undermine his girlfriend Heather Glenn and make her increasingly dependent upon him... before proposing marriage. His best friend Foggy cannot simply stand by and watch so when another of Murdock's flames, The Black Widow, comes calling, they conspire to undo the damage in the only way they can think of: by dishonest subterfuge. When Natasha is then poisoned by a spiked throwing star, Daredevil enlists the aid of the last remaining member of the white-clad ninja led by Matt's former sensei Stick, but he comes bearing horrifying news: The Hand are about to resurrect Elektra. Huge finale followed by a tense epilogue inked by Terry Austin in which Daredevil sits at the hospital bedside of a paralysed Bullseye and plays a game of Russian Roulette. According to the tale Matt tells, either one of them deserves the bullet.
As to DAREDEVIL: LOVE AND WAR, the focus shifts back to The Kingpin and his wife Vanessa, his one vulnerability for whom he would sacrifice all. Cataleptic, she has withdrawn completely, so The Kingpin kidnaps the blind wife of a neurological expert in order him to coerce him to work on Vanessa with a passion, to get her to communicate once more. When the doctor succeeds, however, The Kingpin discovers that Vanessa hasn't withdrawn from the world - she's withdrawn from him.
Both Miller and Sienkiewicz are on top expressionistic form. Instead of the bricks and mortar inside a sewer, for example, Bill shows it representationally as a plan of pipes. The Kingpin himself is a dinosaur's egg of a man, a neck-less gargantuan in a civilised shirt and tie, tucked under a series of florid wallpaper waistcoats as he looms hunched over his wife, bursting with impotent rage. Most chilling of all, however, is the feral freak he has assigned to the doctor's wife - an incandescent mandrill of a man, drugged up and psychotic, his ludicrous self-image as a chivalrous knight in stark, delusional contrast to his actions. Holed up with a knife in his sister's closet and fixating on her panties, he judders and fractures both mentally and visually, his raging red eyes like horn-rimmed holes in his face.