Archive for June, 2010

Daredevil #186

June 30, 2010

Frank Miller // Klaus Janson
September 1982
*****

Check out FM & KJ’s use of words as art elements! A fun A-plot has Turk (a regular goon) swipe Stilt Man’s armor. The longer arc has more substance, incl. an A+ bit of subtext: Matt’s built a case against a firm run by his innocent CEO g’friend—but is he wrecking her life just so she’ll marry him?

last issue: Daredevil #185
next issue: Daredevil #187

also indexed for Sept. ’82
The Fantastic Four #246

Daredevil #185

June 29, 2010

Frank Miller // Klaus Janson
August 1982
*****

#185 finds the mag back in Eisner territory—check the intro, where Matt M. could be the Spirit’s blind brother! Miller gives Foggy the spotlight, w/ a tongue-in-cheek tone that sends up his usual noirish style. While “Guts” Nelson goes toe-to-toe w/ the Kingpin, DD foils a nuclear heist on the docks.

last issue: Daredevil #184
next issue: Daredevil #186

also indexed for Aug. ’82
The Fantastic Four #245

Daredevil #184

June 28, 2010

Frank Miller with Klaus Janson
July 1982
****

The Punisher fades somewhat in issue #2 of this PCP plot. But Miller gracefully salvages the arc by adding tension, twists, & his (by-now expected) superb panel work & grungy NYC atmo. There’s a new plot simmering w/ Matt’s longtime squeeze, but admit it: the book’s lacked zip since Elektra died.

last issue: Daredevil #183
next issue: Daredevil #185

also indexed for Jul. ’82
The Fantastic Four #244

Daredevil #183

June 27, 2010

Frank Miller with Roger McKenzie & Klaus Janson
June 1982
***

Miller needs a break? I figure that’s why, after three A+ years on the title, he reteams w/ McKenzie to offer a wordy, conventional ish. The plot’s strictly afterschool special (a kid high on PCP falls out a window). DD races the Punisher to find the dealers—and the art’s an old-fashioned 3×3 grid!

last issue: Daredevil #182
next issue: Daredevil #184

also indexed for Jun. ’82
The Fantastic Four #243

Daredevil #182

June 26, 2010

Frank Miller with Klaus Janson
May 1982
****

When hard-boiled writers like Miller explore feelings, they get emo, lurid & a little embarrassing. In a coda to the Elektra Saga, Matt refuses to accept the ninja’s death, in denial (blind?) till he exhumes the corpse! A left-field subplot focuses on the rarely-espied Punisher & an LI drug deal.

last issue: Daredevil #181
next issue: Daredevil #183

also indexed for May ’82
The Fantastic Four #242

Daredevil #181

June 25, 2010

Frank Miller with Klaus Janson
April 1982
*****

A double-sized issue allows Miller the space to deliver a milestone climax. It’s rich, pulpy comic-book tragedy, peppered w/ thrilling sequences, starting w/ Bullseye’s prison breakout. He’s the ish’s POV, opening a dramatic irony: we know more than he does about DD/Murdock & Elektra—tho’ he almost cracks their secrets. And astonishingly, brutally, Bulls murders Elek, then loses to DD.

last issue: Daredevil #180
next issue: Daredevil #182

also indexed for Apr. ’82
The Fantastic Four #241

Daredevil #180

June 24, 2010

Frank Miller with Klaus Janson
March 1982
*****

To spoil the election of a corrupt mayor, DD unearths Kingpin’s amnesiac wife from NYC’s bowels. Miller’s drawing heavily on Jos Campbell: his hero challenges the underworld’s king, despite his broken leg (= castration, an effect of #179‘s showdown w/ Elektra). Oh & he wrestles a gator!

last issue: Daredevil #179
last issue: Daredevil #181

also indexed for Mar. ’82
The Fantastic Four #240

Daredevil #179

June 23, 2010

Frank Miller with Klaus Janson
February 1982
*****

Re-enter sad-sack reporter Ben Urich, with his ordinary-Joe POV.  He phones his pal DD after his snooping into Kingpin’s mayoral candidate brings a death threat from Elektra. And he not only snaps a pic of the long-awaited DD/Elektra match (victor: Elektra), he also glimpses Kingpin’s missing wife!

last issue: Daredevil #178
next issue: Daredevil #180

also indexed for Feb. ’82
The Fantastic Four #239

Daredevil #178

June 22, 2010

Frank Miller with Klaus Janson
January 1982
*****

This breezy ish guests Power Man & Iron Fist, whose low-rent heroics make DD into a perfect chop-socky noir (PS: the match btw. IF & DD is superb). It’s also a throwback to the Colan era of Matt Murdock, swashbuckling lawyer. He’s after blackmail evidence that connects a corrupt pol to Kingpin.

last issue: Daredevil #177
next issue: Daredevil #179

also indexed for Jan. ’82
The Fantastic Four #238

Daredevil #177

June 21, 2010

Frank Miller with Klaus Janson
December 1981
*****

Like a chessmaster, Miller moves every plot forward in this pleasurable ish, from Foggy reviving the firm to Kingpin buying a councilman. But at heart it’s a spiritual journey that doubles as an origin recap: a Zen hallucination that sees Murdock face his past & literally fight his demons.

last issue: Daredevil #176
next issue: Daredevil #178

also indexed for Dec. ’81
The Fantastic Four #237

Daredevil #176

June 19, 2010

Frank Miller
November 1981
*****

An elegantly structured five-party hunt for a blind pool hustler and DD’s onetime mentor. Plus round 2 of Elektra v. the immortal ninja. It’s easy to talk about what Miller does, but it’s also what he doesn’t do: no purple narrator of ’60s & ’70s heroics. His fights are silent, acrobatic, & deadly.

last issue: Daredevil #175
next issue: Daredevil #177

also indexed for Nov. ’81
The Fantastic Four #236

Daredevil #175

June 18, 2010

Frank Miller
October 1981
*****

DD once again plays a supporting role, protecting Foggy & providing back-up for Elektra as she storms the HQ of those gothic ninjas. In fact, it’s she who fights & kills their heavy, a near-immortal bruiser. And Foggy not only provides comic relief, he rescues the firm’s court case from collapse.

last issue: Daredevil #174
next issue: Daredevil #176

also indexed for Oct. ’81
The Fantastic Four #235

Daredevil #174

June 17, 2010

Frank Miller
September 1981
*****

The mag revs back up as Kingpin pits his rivals—a ninja assassin’s guild (!) who disintegrate at death (!!)—against DD. Also on the scene is Elektra, a former disciple of the ninja clan. Miller’s work is merely exceptional, not superlative; this ish is about moving the plot, not artistic innovation.

last issue: Daredevil #173
next issue: Daredevil #175

also indexed for Sept. ’81
The Fantastic Four #234

Daredevil #173

June 16, 2010

Frank Miller
August 1981
****

A breather—okay, a deflation—after the Kingpin arc, but this one-off is still smart & tight. Murdock’s taken an old foe, Gladiator, on pro bono after #166, & learns the bruiser has an evil twin in a gimp mask. Plus a morality drama: MM’s asst. finds the courage to press charges against the double.

last issue: Daredevil #172
next issue: Daredevil #174

also indexed for Aug. ’81
The Fantastic Four #233

Daredevil #172

June 15, 2010

Frank Miller
July 1981
*****

Genius of the 1st degree: a pulpy ode to NYC with a ’30s Warner Bros. tone of seedy urban roughness. Fisk rises from the sewers to the penthouse, toppling the city’s crime bosses w/ a few deft strokes. DD plays second fiddle (a la the Spirit) to the Kingpin’s arc, till even he gets outmaneuvered.

last issue: Daredevil #171
next issue: Daredevil #173

also indexed for Jul. ’81
The Fantastic Four #232

Daredevil #171

June 14, 2010

Frank Miller
June 1981
*****

His pacing’s vigorous & his plotting’s smart… in only 2 years, Miller’s turned DD into a monthly must-read. His Kingpin has the body of a Kirby brute but an altogether unique cunning. The Pin gets suckered into a gangland vendetta, loses his wife, & dumps the Devil in a deathtrap cliffhanger!

last issue: Daredevil #170
next issue: Daredevil #172

Daredevil #170

June 12, 2010

Frank Miller
May 1981
*****

#170 suffers a bit from being a prologue but it promises much. The arc rehabs the Kingpin, a minor Spidey baddie that Miller turns into a diabolical powerhouse. Fisk, retired in Japan, cuts a deal to betray NY’s organized crime. Murdock gets sucked into the feud when Fisk’s wife retains him as counsel.

last issue: Daredevil #169
next issue: Daredevil #171

Daredevil #169

June 11, 2010

Frank Miller
March 1981
*****

Frank’s on fire! This tale starts out surreal, w/ escapee Bullseye murdering Times Square X-mas shoppers that (thanks to a tumor) he sees as DD. It’s topped by a hat-tip to Miller’s influences, w/ a 42nd St. kino playing The Maltese Falcon, DD’s hammy speech on the Law, & a teaser for more Elektra.

last issue: Daredevil #168
next issue: Daredevil #170

also indexed for Mar. ’81
Captain America #255

Daredevil #168

June 10, 2010

Frank Miller
January 1981
*****

Miller works solo on this dense one-shot that adds tremendously to the Daredevil mythos. A retcon flashes back to Matt’s pre-law days at Columbia, where an early masked caper ends in the accidental death of his g’friend’s daddy. It buttresses a strong intro for a new female lead: Elektra, Assassin!

last issue: Daredevil #167
next issue: Daredevil #169

also indexed for Jan. ’81
Captain America #253

Daredevil #167

June 9, 2010

Frank Miller/David Michelinie
November 1980
A-story: **** // B-story: ****

A brisk, Eisner-like ditty from Miller & guest: DD gets btw. an obnoxious weapons contractor & his disgruntled ex-accountant (in stolen battle armor). The piece has a nice twist & poignant ending, acrobatic action & (un-DD-like) anti-govt. sentiment. Bonus: an overview for the mag’s new readers!

last issue: Daredevil #166
next issue: Daredevil #168

also indexed for Nov. ’80
Captain America #251

Daredevil #166

June 8, 2010

Frank Miller/Roger McKenzie
September 1980
****

Miller’s art on the DD mag improves every issue—this one-shot has an esp. acrobatic brawl at a supervillain museum exhibit w/ the buzz-sawed, numbskulled Gladiator. The creative team offers him a bit of compassion: he’s obviously a troubled simpleton. Plus, a few comic beats for Foggy’s wedding!

last issue: Daredevil #165
next issue: Daredevil #167

also indexed for Sept. ’80
Captain America #249

Daredevil #165

June 7, 2010

Frank Miller/Roger McKenzie
July 1980
****

A year on the bi-monthly title & Miller shares a plot credit. His fingers are all over this ish, starting w/ its dirty thugs & dirtier businessmen. At the corruption’s heart is Doc Ock, who’s stolen an adamantium shipment to forge new arms. Miller applies all his tricks to stage his best fight yet.

last issue: Daredevil #164
next issue: Daredevil #166

also indexed for Jul. ’80
Captain America #247

Daredevil #164

June 6, 2010

May 1980
Roger McKenzie // Frank Miller
*****

Miller turns DD’s Silver Age origin into a drama of hard luck & tragedy w/ only superficial superheroism. A beat reporter (Ben Urich) must choose whether to expose the hero’s ID or not. The weighty frame-story is a great pretext for an origin recap told w/ strong sentiment. Eisner would approve.

last issue: Daredevil #163
next issue: Daredevil #165

Daredevil #163

June 5, 2010

Roger McKenzie // Frank Miller
March 1980
****

In the Marvel tradition of hero face-offs, DD v. Hulk (guess who wins?). Miller’s good but the Green Goliath is too immobile to play to his athletic strengths. But his Murdock has some nice bits, like a ritzy 5th Ave political funder. Then the issue’s kicker: Ben Urich confirms DD’s secret ID!

last issue: Daredevil #162
next issue: Daredevil #164

Daredevil #161

June 4, 2010

Roger McKenzie // Frank Miller
November 1979
****

With this ish, McKenzie is just hired help; the book belongs to Miller. A breathtaking title bout in nighttime Coney Island—Daredevil v. Bullseye—w/ Astroland less a ring than a playground. Black Widow shows the boys how to slip out of a jam, but bluffed-out Bullseye’s breakdown is anticlimactic.

last issue: Daredevil #160
next issue: Daredevil #162

also indexed for Nov. ’79
The Defenders #77

Daredevil #160

June 3, 2010

September 1979
Roger McKenzie // Frank Miller
***

Much plot: Murdock gets dumped in another rainy cemetery; Bugle newsman Ben Urich suspects DD’s secret ID; psychokiller Bullseye roughs up & kidnaps Black Widow (a ho-hum girl-in-peril twist). Oh, & for more action, Daredevil tosses a dive bar. The artsy murk adds to the bone-jarring violence.

last issue: Daredevil #159
next issue: Daredevil #161

Daredevil #159

June 2, 2010

Roger McKenzie // Frank Miller
July 1979
****

Miller may be a rookie but he’s the best artist this mag has had—better even than Colan! He gives Mac’s script the hard-boiled tone it needs (it’s pretty much one big fight w/ a crew of hit-men on a Hudson River pier). And the pay-off: studying our man’s moves is Bullseye, assassin extraordinaire.

last issue: Daredevil #158
next issue: Daredevil #160

Daredevil #158

June 1, 2010

Roger McKenzie // Frank Miller
May 1979
***

The arc climaxes okay: DD duels that shadowy chrono-baddy w/ killer gloves in a graveyard. But the mag gets jazzed up w/ the debut of 22-year-old Frank Miller. Wow! The play of light, shadow & silhouette, the weight of bodies, the angles of panels, & the NY noir display an already mature talent!

last issue: Daredevil #157
next issue: Daredevil #159