kveto from prague:
Issue(s): Daredevil #168, Daredevil #169, Daredevil #170, Daredevil #171, Daredevil #172, Daredevil #173, Daredevil #174, Daredevil #175, Daredevil #176, Daredevil #177, Daredevil #178, Daredevil #179, Daredevil #180, Daredevil #181, Daredevil #182
I have all these issues bundled in one Visionaries trade. Luckily Daredevil is pretty self-contained at this point and DD's few appearances in other titles are relatively context free, so it's ok if they're all put together here. It's a lot to review at once, though, so i'll just put the summaries below.
Here are the high points:
This run contains both the introduction of Elektra and what was for the longest time her permanent death. Eventually Marvel will bring her back and put her in her own series a couple of times. For now it's a self-contained tragic story about a love that Matt Murdock once had that went bad.
This run also does a lot to build up the importance and stature of the Kingpin. Prior to this, his super-strength was generally given more attention than his criminal empire. Miller goes a long way to establishing the Kingpin's more insidious power of organized crime.
These issues also do a lot to make Bullseye and the Punisher more interesting. Bullseye was previously kind of goofy, and the Punisher was kind of neutered, always using mercy bullets and stuff. Miller makes Bullseye truly psychotic and very dangerous and makes the Punisher a lot more of a true vigilante.
These issues also introduce the Hand, a group of ninja assassins.
Generally, Miller's art and writing are fantastic. The series has a very nice look, with a great use of shadow, interesting panel layouts, interesting perspectives. Nothing totally mind-blowing like a Kirby or a Steranko. A lot more gritty and naturalistic. The same is essentially true with the writing, which is pretty much down to earth, although it indulges in a few jokey noir cliches like DD constantly showing up at a particular diner to beat information out of stool pigeons.
There's a lot of attention paid to people's emotions and interactions with each other, but it never gets over-the-top melodramatic. Despite the use of super-ninjas and things like that, it's a very maturely written comic.
One complaint that i have is that Miller depicts a world where there's a gang of oddly multi-racial criminals lurking around every corner waiting to kill you for your suit for no reason other than they'd like some money and they're evil enough to do anything for it.
It's not very realistic. In the 60s and 70s Spider-Man and others would occasionally fight bank robbers. In the 80s, in a large part to Miller's influence, the streets of New York are suddenly a jungle where wild gangs are constantly mugging, killing, and raping. It's a reflection about attitudes about crime that was prevalent in the 80s and were eventually proved to be unfounded, statistically. But it has a major impact in the comic book world, especially for the "street level" heroes, and it starts here. Indeed Miller's ultimate influence over comics is more the "grim and gritty" aspect rather than the realistic, mature dialogue and plotting that should have been his legacy.
#168 - Daredevil hunts down a thief named Alarich Wallenquist, who is a material witness in a case. He's hired Eric Slaughter to protect him from Daredevil. While knocking the heads of some thugs, Daredevil is attacked by a female ninja with sais.
As Daredevil is passing out, he recognizes her as Elektra, a woman that he was in love with in law school.
Back then he shared the knowledge of his abilities with her. The relationship ended when her father, an ambassador, was assassinated.
She's now herself become a hired assassin. Later, they're together able to capture Wallenquist...
...and they become briefly re-acquainted but despite their previous love Matt can't stay with her because of her current profession.
#169 - Bullseye escapes from prison, and he's completely psychotic, seeing Daredevil everywhere.
This is due in part to a tumor. Daredevil hunts him down, and in the end saves Bullseye from being crushed by a subway train.
Police lieutenant Nick Manolis says that this means that all future crimes committed by Bullseye are on Daredevil's head. Meanwhile Elektra snoops around in Matt's apartment and discovers that he's sleeping with Heather Glenn.
#170-172 - The Kingpin is negotiating the release of his records to the US government. He's been living in Japan...
...and trying to reform for his wife, Vanessa. They hire Nelson & Murdock to handle the negotiations. A group of the Kingpin's former lieutenants hire Bullseye, released from prison after a successful removal of his brain tumor, to kill the Kingpin (but Daredevil is on his case, especially since he feels responsible for him after saving his life in the subway).
Vanessa is kidnapped by the lieutenants. The Kingpin pretends to agree to turn over their records in exchange for Vanessa, but he's actually booby-trapped the case with a sonic device that disables them and Bullseye. However, Kingpin's current righthand man, who has been itching to get the Kingpin back into crime, takes the opportunity to cause an explosion, which seemingly kills Vanessa...
...although in truth she is left amnesiac and wandering the sewers.
Plenty of fights, too.
This is the first meeting of Daredevil and the Kingpin.
#173 - The Gladiator has been making some progress with his mental problems, but this issue he escapes. Meanwhile, another guy with a similar mode of dress (more of an S&M outfit, though)...
... has been committing brutal crimes, and Gladiator is blamed for it...
...until Daredevil sorts it out. It turns out that Becky Blake had been paralyzed by the S&M guy. Before the revelation, she'd been blaming Gladiator. And she and Matt have a bad fight where he condemns her for never reporting her attack to the police, and later realizes how un-empathetic he'd been.
He does get her to testify against the S&M guy, though.
#174 - Elektra learns that Murdock and Gladiator have been targeted for assassination.
The assassins are the Hand, a group of ninja assassins that are just now expanding their operations to Europe and America. Elektra helps Daredevil and Gladiator defend themselves (Daredevil isn't aware of Elektra's help until after she leaves).
#175 - Because of her interference, Elektra herself is now targeted by the Hand. An immortal master assassin named Kirgi is sent after her. Meanwhile the Kingpin sends a fake ninja to fake an assassination attempt on Foggy. The purpose of this is to get Daredevil to take out the Hand for him. DD recognizes it as a plant, but Elektra doesn't. She heads to the Hand's base...
...and with Daredevil's help...
...is able to defeat all of the ninjas. It is Elektra who single-handedly defeats Kirgi...
...although he escapes before being killed. DD tries to apprehend Elektra but he passes out due to his own battle injuries.
Meanwhile, Foggy wins Gladiator's case despite an absentee partner.
#176-177 - Daredevil has been having trouble with his radar sense and it's getting worse. He decides to seek out his old mentor, Stick. Elektra also has the same idea. And Turk has acquired the MAULER armor from Cord Industries. There's a comical scene where Daredevil, Elektra, Heather Glenn, and Turk all show up at a local stool pigeon's place one by one, each demanding to know where to find Stick.
Turk catches up with Daredevil as he finds Stick, but even with the armor, Turk is easily defeated.
Meanwhile Kirgi returns to attack Elektra...
...but she is able to once again defeat him, this time burning him to death and slicing him with her sword. Stick agrees to help Daredevil, and essentially helps him re-find his radar sense.
It seems that Daredevil has lost his "super-power" radar sense and Stick has helped him replace it with an inner radar sense that all people potentially have but only true ninjas are able to discover. Stick oddly just disappears from the story again.
#178-179 - The Kingpin recruits Elektra as his assassin.
J. Jonah Jameson hires the Nelson & Murdock to defend them against a libel suit by a politician that Ben Ulrich has exposed as corrupt in the Daily Bugle. Foggy Nelson hired Power Man & Iron Fist to protect them.
Murdock fakes a kidnapping so he can act as Daredevil but as DD he winds up in a fight with PM & IF...
...and they lose the evidence they needed to defend the Bugle. (The evidence was originally held by a young kid who had been blackmailing people to raise money for an operation for his sister, who is a ballet dancer whose boss wouldn't pay for her medical insurance; there's a follow-up to this in Power Man & Iron Fist #77).
Ulrich tries to get more evidence by meeting a man in a theater, but Elektra kills that man and warns Ulrich off the story.
Ulrich sticks with the story and Daredevil tries to protect him...
...but Elektra is able to trick and trap him, and she runs her sai through Ulrich.
#180 - Two weeks later, Ulrich is alive and just out of the hospital. Going through some pictures he had taken, he recognizes a homeless person that had been watching the Kingpin. It's Vanessa.
Ulrich informs Daredevil and he hunts her down in the sewers. She's become a slave of a fat crazy person who runs a territory of homeless sewer dwellers like a barbarian kingdom.
DD, his foot still injured after his last fight with Elektra, defeats the sewer king and brings Vanessa to the Kingpin. In exchange, the Kingpin allows his corrupt politician to go to jail.
#181 - This is a double-sized issue (it contains enough plot for about a year's worth of decompressed stories today, and yet it has great pacing). The Kingpin has a weird sense of honor. Because he was forced to give up his corrupt politician, he needs to kill someone. He knows that Daredevil has ties to Matt Murdock. But he doesn't want to cause a conflict with Daredevil, so he decides that he'll kill Foggy Nelson. Somehow he thinks that won't cause a conflict. He orders Elektra to kill Foggy. In jail, Bullseye runs into the Punisher. The Punisher tells him that the Kingpin has replaced him with Elektra. Bullseye had previously been waiting patiently in jail for the Kingpin to have him released.
Bullseye breaks out of jail and heads to Eric Slaughter for info, and learns about the hit on Nelson.
Bullseye does a little research and puts it together that Daredevil is probably Matt Murdock. Elektra shows up to assassinate Foggy, but Foggy recognizes her from law school and she balks and lets him go.
In an extended fight, Bullseye attacks and mortally wounds Elektra.
She crawls to Matt's doorstep before she dies.
At the morgue, Bullseye confirms his belief about DD's ID by throwing a spike at Murdock, which he blocks with his cane.
Bullseye approaches the Kingpin about DD's secret identity. The Kingpin doesn't believe it, but orders Daredevil dead. Daredevil uses a dummy to convince Bullseye that he's not really Matt Murdock, something that seems a bit odd considering he's supposed to be distraught over Elektra's death.
In the fight, DD drops Bullseye off a building.
His spine is smashed, leaving him paralyzed in a full body cast.
#182 - Matt comes to grips with Elektra's death, at first going a little crazy and believing that she's still alive somehow.
Meanwhile, the Punisher is approached by a Federal officer and unofficially let free in return for him stopping a drug shipment.
Also meanwhile, Matt's living girlfriend, Heather, is getting swindled out of her father's company.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: Fantastic Four #233 references the release of the Kingpin's files, so it takes place after these issues. The Punisher appears here in jail, after Amazing Spider-Man annual #15. He knows about the fact that the Kingpin has hired Elektra as an assassin. So it's probably more accurate to say that the Punisher was captured and put in prison sometime in the middle of this story. So we can say that this runs concurrently with Amazing Spider-Man annual #15. Amazing Spider-Man #219 takes place after Daredevil #173.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller vol. 2
Inbound References (13): show
Another unfortunate repercussion from Miller's influence was that ninjas began popping up all over the place during 1980s Marvel until they became truly irritating. This played a part in Doug Moench angrily quitting Marvel until after Shooter left as EIC.
"It's a reflection about attitudes about crime that was prevalent in the 80s and were eventually proved to be unfounded, statistically."
To be fair to Miller, Watchmen and V For Vendetta were reflective of leftist fears that Reagan was leading the world into nuclear war (even after Gorbachev came to power) and Thatcherism was leading the UK into fascism. Both of these were eventually proved to be unfounded and yet nobody considers Moore a leftist dimwit.
I don't think either of those stories (especially Watchmen) was as specifically intended as you seem to suggest there, or was meant to be taken exactly seriously - V for Vendetta is basically Orwell. The whole point of a work like that is to take a problem or possibility and take it to its extreme worst case scenario, exaggerate it, and caution against it that way. Significantly, those stories both take places in alternate timelines/futures/universes. No one could possibly read them and get the impression Moore was trying to depict modern real world reality, realistically.
Your comment was rather disingenuous, IMO, which is pretty much par for the course when most anyone today feels his "side" has been attacked.
Most importantly, tho, even if what Moore did WERE the same (tho, as I said, it wasn't), it would have no bearing on Miller's being or not being a right-wing dimwit.
Moore has specifically stated in interviews that he felt that Britain was going fascist in the 80's and that he wrote Watchmen because he felt that people in America were insufficiently concerned about nuclear war.
At the risk setting this off again, i wanted to cop to the fact that my assertion that started this about crime rates isn't as clearly supported as i'd like. Here's a chart i stole from Wikipedia. I've found similar data elsewhere.
As much as i don't like some of Frank Miller's recent statements i don't think he was pursuing a right-wing agenda with his crime comics at this time. I do think media depictions like these comics as well as movies like the Dirty Harry and Death Wish series helped feed a perception that didn't go away even after crime rates really did go way down and that's closer to the point i was originally trying to make.
More importantly, I really do want comments here to be civil. There was nothing disingenuous about Michael's comment. Paul, you are a Fighter and i have no problem with your forceful disagreements with me or the other commentors but you seem to assume the worst when people disagree with you and it gets taken personally. I suspect you're just here for a good debate and i welcome that but please try to dial it back a notch.
And Michael, if you don't quit pursuing your crypto-reactionary agenda via comparative comic literature, i will be forced to take action.
So the one guy in the presumed disagreement should take a chill pill and a chamomile tea, but other guy, you will be "forced to take action" on. Ho-kay.
He politely (but seriously) warned me, while he made a joke towards the other fellow. A little reading comprehension can go a long way.
As to the argument, I don't think Miller was pursuing any political agenda with his comics at this time, I was just taking a cheap shot at him. And I'd do it again!
And maybe disingenuous wasn't the right word, but Michael's reply there was pretty much a non sequitur. It's like showing up at a trial and saying the accused should be let off because some other person who committed the same crime wasn't arrested as well by that particular cop.
I considered my comment relatively civil (but with an edge to it), but as this is your site I respect your opinion that it was not, and will try to do better - so long as no right-wing sophistry is ever thrown at me again.
I consider Moore a leftist dimwit.
Fortunately your opinion means fuck-all to anyone.
And I know that'll probably get me a warning, but when you see a nasty argument from a year ago between people who are not you, you probably shouldn't wade into it and resurrect it, especially not with an idiotic one-liner.
All day long, for some reason, i've been getting spam comments on the blog, so i've been deleting them, re-calibrating my spam filters, etc.. Then i get a notification about some legitimate comments... and it's THIS.
Paul's kinda right, though. There's no reason to resurrect this old argument. Please let it die.
If you were reading Marvel in mid-1983 and noticed a strange item in the checklist called "Marvel Retread Funnies", that was supposed to be a reprinting of DD#181 with funny dialogue replacing the original. This was an extension of something that happened in the last issues of Crazy magazine; funny dialogue was added to Kree/Skrull War pages, X-Men #137, and several Lee/Kirby Atlas monster stories. The new dialogue was by Jim Owsley and the cover was shown in Amazing Heroes #30 and Comics Journal #84. The book got killed when distributors in general and Frank Miller in particular objected to it(Peter David at the time stated that Miller's objection by itself wouldn't have stopped the book). The book was actually completed, so somewhere in Marvel's vaults is an unpublished funny Death of Elektra.
I personally don't like Kingpin as a Daredevil villan, but more as a Spider-Man villan.
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