I’ve taken a break from Mark Waid’s DD run so I can turn my attention to the Frank Miller era of the character.
Back in the late 70s-early 80s. Marvel had struggled to keep Daredevil relevant among readers and wasn’t as popular as the likes of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four or the X-Men. They paired him up with the Black Widow to keep sales afloat. Frank Miller joined the series, as a penciller, in issue #158 of Roger McKenzie’s stint. Frank found Roger’s scripts to be terrible. He had his finger on the pulse of fans and their desire for more engaging, more mature storytelling and Frank Miller was the man for the job to help Daredevil stand out in the world of comics.
Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson, Vol.1 features the tail end of McKenzie’s run (#158-161) and the beginning of Frank’s seminal run of the character.
There’s a two issue story from The Spectacular Spider-Man. In this story arc, Spider-Man has been blinded by the Masked Marauder and Daredevil, the sightless swashbuckler, decides to help him cope with his temporary blindness. This story arc is the beginning of the Spidey-DD friendship and it’s a great story to help non-fans get introduced to the character. Miller’s pencil work is terrific.
The McKenzie run began to gradually shift the tone of Daredevil, the artwork began to have a lot of shadows the action starts taking place at night and the character development gained a lot more depth. There’s plenty of guest appearances during the end of this run including Black Widow, The Hulk and last but not least, Bullseye. Daredevil, himself, underwent a transformation, too. Much of the levity from the past has been replaced by a mean streak. That run laid the groundwork for Frank Miller to take the ball and run with it.
Issue #168 is the manifestation of Miller’s vision. Frank began writing the character in this issue and it featured the debut appearance of Elektra!
Frank Miller took everything there was about Daredevil and erased it when he took over. He broke free of any filler continuity and Daredevil became a different comic altogether. While the gist of his origins remained intact. Frank had added various tropes from film noir to martial arts into the mythos and phasing out most of the rogues gallery from past runs. Kingpin, primarily a Spider-Man villain, became the Man Without Fear’s arch-nemesis and Bullseye became an even more terrifying character.
Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson, Vol.1 is an essential read for newer fans. It’s an influential run that sparked a wave of darker, grittier antiheroes and it represents a turning point in comics and it made Frank Miller a star.
Quality reading. Go pick this up!