Issue(s): Daredevil #284, Daredevil #285, Daredevil #286, Daredevil #287, Daredevil #288, Daredevil #289, Daredevil #290
John Romita Jr. was actually originally supposed to return to this title, which is why we have a few art fill-ins until Lee Week's run really gets started in earnest. Romita was working on a project with Frank Miller that was eventually turned into the Man Without Fear mini-series, and i guess that the project extended further than was originally thought (a note in issue #288's lettercol indicates that at that point they didn't even know how long it would be). SoLee Weeks "just happened to be visiting the offices on the very day that Ralph and Mike were looking for a penciler for #284", and that's how he became the book's penciler, with the issues by Greg Capullo and Kieron Dwyer giving him a chance to "get a jump" on upcoming issues.
And to be clear, when i say that Lee Weeks' art is "regular", i don't mean that as a judgement. His art is just less abstract that Romita's, but even on these early issues you can see signs of him developing a strong style of his own. He does a lot with shading that gives the book a sense of depth. In some ways it's a bit Romita if Romita was drawing people that were actually shaped like humans.
This arc starts with Daredevil almost willfully giving himself amnesia. He returns to New York city, and the sensation of returning causes him to remember Karen Page, and the Kingpin, and other events. But he decides, especially after the beating he took from Captain America, that "the devil isn't a hero" and "The Daredevil was an illusion searching for a truth... and for this he was beat out of existence". He then comes across a mugging, gets confuses about who is mugging who, and gets beaten up by the mugger.
The mugger is, i think, a fan of the same movies as Hammerhead.
The mugger goes home to his clubhouse or whatever, but his buddies don't believe that he beat up Daredevil, so he goes off to fight him again with his friends in tow.
Meanwhile, we have a mysterious man in black performing a burglary.
Someone who is extremely accurate with throwing, and can make a compact disc into a weapon.
The gangsters catch up with Daredevil again, and DD is just far gone at this point.
They wind up kicking Daredevil's butt, but the mysterious stranger again uses household objects to disable the goons and chase them away.
Daredevil thinks he's Jack Murdock (his boxer father's name) at this point, and doesn't recognize the other guy, even though the man in black thinks he would.
So i think it's pretty obvious from the beginning that the mystery guy is Bullseye, even though this is issue #284 and that won't be revealed until issue #288. At this point, Matt/Jack agrees to switch outfits with Bullseye.
You'll see a lot of talk of heroes above, and that seems to be the intended theme of this arc. What is a hero?
Matt's amnesia is complete at this point. He winds up wandering the streets and encountering a street artist named Nyla Skin.
She takes him back to a dilapidated loft where she has been squatting.
In addition to being an artist, Nyla is part of a group that steals from the super-rich. She convinces Matt to accompany her, but he ultimately refuses to steal.
Matt/Jack also gets involved in a situation where a black judge is beaten up by some racists...
...and, with the judge's son, Marcus, he tries to help protect the judge from further attacks. The judge winds up getting killed anyway.
Marcus then goes to the people that killed his father, including a guy that he knows named Nick. Nick, who is actually the killer, tells him to blame black on black crime instead.
Marcus gets into a fight with them and is rescued by Matt. Matt convinces Marcus not to kill the guy that killed his father, but Marcus tells Matt to get away from him.
Later, we see Marcus still trying to get Nick to tell him who the killer was.
Eventually Matt wraps up the guy for the police.
Someone writes in to complain about this storyline (based on the first part, in #285) on the grounds that he was once mugged by black people:
I am a 22-year old caucasian who has loved the Daredevil comic since the early days of Frank Miller...
The response is that we'll see that in #286, "the issues involved... were not so simple". By which i guess they mean that Marcus got mad, too? I don't know. I think i need a special tag for when 30 year old comic books are dealing with the same political issues that we are dealing with today.
Meanwhile, dressed in the Daredevil suit, Bullseye starts committing crimes.
He winds up "rescuing" a woman that married a rich husband that she didn't really like.
And he starts distributing the money he's stealing on the streets.
While at the same time raping the woman he "rescued".
Matt, meanwhile, winds up as a boxer, fighting under his father's name. The Kingpin takes note and thinks it would be amusing to try to force Matt to take a fall, like his father did. Matt is also having visions of training with Stick and Elektra.
Ben Urich is not happy that J. Jonah Jameson is running stories about "Daredevil's" current actions.
The woman that Bullseye raped goes to the Bugle, and disparages his sexual prowess.
Urich winds up connecting with Foggy Nelson, who has been working on repairing Matt's legal status.
We later find out (in #290) that Glorianna O'Breen has left Foggy.
In #288, Bullseye goes to Kingpin in costume (so this is when we actually learn that the guy masquerading as Daredevil was Bullseye). Bullseye was apparently trying to discredit Daredevil, but his Robin Hood actions have actually made Daredevil more popular. Kingpin correctly calls him an idiot.
Bullseye then goes off to try to discredit Daredevil more properly.
Tracking "Daredevil is a hipster" comments since 1967:
Kingpin has Bullseye kidnap Nyla Skin in order to force Matt to throw his fight. But Matt fights anyway, and remembers his father's situation in the process. Seems to be the opposite of what Kingpin would have wanted. Matt then fights his way to the Kingpin, and rescues Nyla.
I love the beatific grin that Kieron Dwyer gives the Kingpin, coupled with the fact that he's given no dialogue.
Matt next says that he's going after whoever has been ruining his name as Daredevil.
Meanwhile, the Kingpin decides that he wants legitimacy...
...and therefore decides to purchase a news network. He also kills a guy for using too much latin.
He later gets his media outlet. FNN, the Fisk News Network.
Bullseye, meanwhile, is doing a good job ruining Daredevil's reputation.
Daredevil decides to turn the tables by wearing a Bullseye costume.
Bullseye, meanwhile, seems a little confused about whether or not he actually is Daredevil.
And Matt uses that to his advantage.
I actually wouldn't be surprised if neither of these guys knows who they really are.
In fact, Matt actually says that when he wins the fight.
This is a long arc. A lot of ideas are thrown at us, but i feel like they are just passing through; nothing feels developed, and a lot of it just feels like filler. When we finally get to the Daredevil/Bullseye fight, it's fantastic just because something is happening (and i do like Dwyer's art), but even that doesn't end with Matt definitively reclaiming his identity. Simple solutions are never Nocenti's style, and in a sense that's admirable, but for the most part her run has been too exhausting for my little brain.
Nocenti has one more issue, and then D.G. Chichester takes over.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 169,805. Single issue closest to filing date = 165,100.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Bullseye's appearances (and Daredevil's) in Captain America #372-378. J. Jonah Jameson seems to be back as the publisher of the Daily Bugle. JJ regains control of the Bugle in Spectacular Spider-Man #171-172 (which were published around the same time as this arc, Dec 90 - Jan 91; the actual issue here where Jameson appears (#287) has a Dec 90 cover date). Placing this after Spectacular Spider-Man #172 raises the question of when Daredevil annual #6 takes place, since it is part of the Lifeform event and has dependencies based some of the other characters. But given the fact that Daredevil seems to be coming in and out of lucidity, i am placing this after Lifeform, with the idea that he may not even have remembered that it occurred.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBen Urich, Bullseye, Daredevil, Foggy Nelson, J. Jonah Jameson, Kingpin
I could not stand the scene where the Kingpin kills the guy for using the terms nobilesse obligee and quid pro quo. Those are fairly common terms. It's hard to find a businessman who HASN'T heard the terms "quid pro quo". And Kingpin's been shown to be relatively well educated in the past. It's hard to believe he hasn't heard the terms before. Besides, I can't see him admitting his ignorance by killing the guy.
Posted by: Michael | June 21, 2015 5:40 PM
Sorry. I posted in the middle- I meant to say "Matt has his conversation with Cap in DD 283, encounters the Lifeform and then fights Cap and Crossbones".
Posted by: Michael | June 21, 2015 5:41 PM
Dwyer's art is looking real good in his fill ins. At the time, I was expecting him to really break out. Al Williamson has messier inks than Danny Bulanadi so I was afraid it'd look as bad as Milgrom's, but it works very well.
Posted by: Chris | June 21, 2015 5:49 PM
"He winds up "rescuing" a woman that married a rich husband that she didn't really like."
In that last panel, where the girl is on the floor, she must have super-powers to be able to bend her arms back like that.;)
Posted by: clyde | June 21, 2015 6:42 PM
Bullseye calling Daredevil a hipster...doesn't he know ANYTHING about the madness of the Mike Murdoch era? Though admittedly he has class in liking Billy Holiday.
Posted by: Ataru320 | June 21, 2015 7:17 PM
@Michael, re: placement. I think it works as well either way. Since Matt forgets a bunch of stuff and there aren't any references in either direction, it seems to me Lifeform could either occur during Streets of Poison or after. Since my placement would be the same either way, i'll leave it up to everyone to decide what they like best.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 21, 2015 7:17 PM
Regarding Kingpin "admitting ignorance" by killing that guy, I'd imagine he's using the idea of his underling stupidly spending money as his excuse for reminding him where he once was. Although I imagine he's not really fooling anyone (not that they'd let the warning going off lightly).
Looking back on Bullseye being Daredevil is interesting in light of Bullseye being Hawkeye during Dark Reign. Its not unreasonable to assume his mental state during his time as Daredevil could have been an inspiration for what his adversaries tried doing to him during the Dark Reign: Hawkeye miniseries.
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 21, 2015 7:56 PM
Those two panels of DD contemplating, then putting on the Bullseye mask look like Clint Eastwood transforming into Walter White.
Posted by: cullen | June 22, 2015 5:12 AM
I was reading Daredevil in realtime, and was really enjoying Nocenti's writing, usually, up until this arc, which I hated. By the time it was done I was relieved she was off the book.
Posted by: Damiano | June 22, 2015 6:48 AM
Much as I disliked the original Longshot series (Peter David is the only one who has made the character work for me so far), Nocenti does have some interesting ideas to expose about themes of identity and purpose, even if they often seem to be directionless or at least unfocused.
The married girl in this storyline seems to me to be a bit of a refinement of the previous story's Number Six.
She, and to a very slightly lesser extent DD and Bullseye, are sincerely uncertain about who they want to be and end up going through the expected motions. However Matt is so shell-shocked that he rebels against those expectations and ends up "rebooted". You can almost read the painful resignation in that panel in the last scan when he is on his knees holding his own mask: he does not look forward to resuming his traditional sense of self, but he just does not know any better.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | June 22, 2015 8:52 AM
I actually think that the scene where the Kingpin murders the subordinate who inadvertently made him feel stupid is perfectly in character. Wilson Fisk is, underneath it all, a brutal, ruthless thug. Yes, he is also extremely intelligent. And that combination of intelligence, brutality and ruthlessness is what enabled him to become the Kingpin in the first place and to maintain an iron grip on his empire.
Yes, the Kingpin does a brilliant job of presenting the appearance of a legitimate businessman, but that is all it is: a façade. Underneath it, he is a mobster, a criminal. And when Fisk sticks to what he is good at he is extremely successful.
The thing is, as others have observed, when the Kingpin tries to move beyond that, he falls flat on his face. For example, he once attempted to seize control of a faction of the Hydra terrorist organization, and than resulted in him being manipulated by the Red Skull. Fisk is not a supervillain or a world-conqueror, and when he tries to be those things he fails.
That was one of the major points of "Born Again." The Kingpin manages to completely tear down Matt Murdock's life through various subtle, under-the-table methods. Fisk wins... and then he makes the mistake of having to take credit for his work. He defaults to his overt criminal behavior and blows up Matt's building. And that leads to Matt's famous narration...
"I never would have connected it to you. Nothing about it said gangster -- until this. It was a nice piece of work, Kingpin. You shouldn't have signed it."
The second aspect of "Born Again" demonstrating the Kingpin's overreach is that, after the attempt to kill Matt / DD in the cab fails, the Kingpin is so obsessed with finishing off his adversary that he uses his government connections to obtain the services of Nuke. That is a huge miscalculation. Nuke goes completely out of control, there is a gigantic public battle between him and DD, and the Avengers become involved. Once the Kingpin steps into the realm of superhumans, of utilizing a Super-Soldier, he is out of his depth.
Which brings us to the scene in DD #290. The scene shows that Fisk's quest for legitimacy is another example of his reach exceeding his grasp. In one breath he is discussing cleaning up his image and becoming a well-regarded public figure, in the next he is murdering a lackey for a slip of the tongue. If Fisk was really a legitimate businessman he would have just fired the guy. But he cannot move beyond his gangster roots.
And that becomes one of the major components of the first part of D.G. Chichester's run. Fisk is drooling at the thought of legitimacy, and he wants it soooo badly, that he leaps into the world of mass media, never bothering to really look into the background of the group investing in his television station. They turn out to be Hydra, and DD manipulates them into a conflict with Fish. And, y'know, in a war between the ruler of the NY underworld and a global terrorist organization capable of creating the Death Spore Virus and the Overkill Horn, who do you think is going to win?
*Ahem!* My apologies for the lengthy response!
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 22, 2015 1:40 PM
You do raise some interesting points about Kingpin's interactions with the superhuman community. If I recall correctly some of his more "untouchable" moments are when he simply refuses to engage them (like during Born Again when he more or less ignores Spider-Man's presence despite being essentially baited).
Aren't there times he is portrayed as having limited vacancies on his supervillain inner circle so to speak? (I'm sure I remember someone being turned down because he already had Bullseye.) Being on some level aware of his own ineffectiveness in the field may have something to do with it.
Shadowland being reduced to rubble by giant robots was essentially just waiting to happen as well.
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 22, 2015 9:14 PM
@Max_Spider: Yes, the Kingpin has certainly used a number of super villains over the years. But if you look at who he's employed, typically they are "street-level" bad guys, or guys with hi-tech armor & weapons. Fisk is usually smart enough to hire individuals like Bullseye, Tombstone or Typhoid Mary, who are somewhat crazy & sadistic, but not so much that they are uncontrollable, and whose twisted personalities make them ideal for legbreaking or mob hits. Or he's hired guys like the Beetle or the Shocker or the Rhino, who are powerful, but are lacking in the ambition and/or the intelligence to present any sort of threat to him. Those are the guys whose main goals in life are to get rich and to prove they're tougher than Daredevil and Spider-Man. The Kingpin knows he can aim them at his enemies without worrying that they'll ever pose a threat to him because of their personal limitations.
It's when the Kingpin steps out of those boundaries and tries to use a completely insane Super-Soldier like Nuke, or attempts to gain power within organizations like Hydra and the Hand, that sooner or later things typically go badly for him.
I think it's interesting that most writers have recognized that the Kingpin is a cool, dangerous bad@$$, but only when he is able to recognize his own limitations and sticks to what he does best. When Fisk forgets that and his ambition becomes bloated then he runs into trouble. Which is good, because not every major comic book villain needs to be in Doctor Doom's league.
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 23, 2015 12:13 AM
Kingpin's personal strengths and weaknesses help to 'isolate' him believably in a shared universe. Otherwise, a man of his ambition would fall foul of the Avengers, the X-Men and other groups or solo heroes (or villains whose toes he'd stand on) who would be way out of his league. Better to retain an ambition solely to remain 'kingpin of the underworld', where the likes of the Avengers and especially the X-Men aren't too bothered so long as he doesn't endanger innocents, and he's hardly going to trouble Dr. Doom, say.
Posted by: Harry | June 23, 2015 5:20 AM
Daredevil #290 was one of the first comic books I ever bought and I thought it was AWESOME. I went back and bought the rest of the arc and it didn't make a lot of sense but I didn't care. That fight was something else.
By Daredevil 315 or so, I had abandoned ship for the warm embraces of the X-Universe, as did most 12-year-olds at the time.
Posted by: Uncanny Michael | June 23, 2015 12:01 PM
If memory serves, what became DD:The Man Without Fear was originally intended to be a 60 page graphic novel. Then Frank Miller gave JRjr some more plot pages and it turned into a 150 page story. So that's apparently why JRjr never came back as regular DD penciler since the DD:MWF became more than twice its original length.
Posted by: Rick | June 28, 2015 10:33 AM
I don't buy the Kingpin killing someone for simply using Latin, but the guy seems to be delivering the line in a kind of snooty manner. I would have bought the scene more if the guy had implied or suggested Fisk wouldn't be familiar with the phrase.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | February 26, 2018 11:02 AM
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