Monday, February 6, 2017

DAREDEVIL #163

"BLIND ALLEY"
Script: Roger McKenzie | Pencils: Frank Miller | Inks: Josef Rubinstein & Klaus Janson
Lettering: Jim Novak | Coloring: Glynis Wein
Editors: Jo Duffy & Dennis O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Matt Murdock ducks out of a fundraiser for the re-election of District Attorney Blake Tower when his radar sense detects the Hulk nearby. Matt talks the Hulk into a calm state, reverting him to Doctor Bruce Banner.

The next morning, Matt and Banner converse and then Matt sends the doctor on his way with a wad of bills. But Banner is overwhelmed on a subway car and transforms into the Hulk. He begins a rampage through Manhattan, but Daredevil arrives to stop him. DD wages a futile battle against the Green Goliath, ultimately convincing him to leave town.

After the Hulk has departed, police find Daredevil lying in an alleyway, at death’s door.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: District Attorney Tower, a recurring character throughout the Marvel line of this era (readers of the blog may recall his appearances in CAPTAIN AMERICA and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN issues from a few years after this one) appears here. In fact, Tower’s very first appearance had been in an issue of DAREDEVIL some years earlier, where he ran against Foggy Nelson for the D.A. position.

Matt runs into Heather Glenn at Tower’s soirée, with a date on her arm in what appears to be an attempt to make Matt jealous following their spat at the cemetery a couple issues back.


Other notable attendees at the party include J. Jonah Jameson and Tony Stark, who share a brief interaction. And, in a weird bit of unintentional (?) continuity, the Hulk’s New York rampage also brings him into conflict this very same month with Iron Man in the classic IRON MAN 132 by David Michelinie and Bob Layton. Indeed, with a little fudging of the timeline, it's not hard at all to imagine the Hulk leaping from his appearance here directly to the expressway where Tony Stark encounters him in IRON MAN 131 from a month prior.


It's noted that Matt once defended the Hulk in court. Judge Coffin, also in attendance at the party, believes this puts a question to Matt’s intelligence.

It's a Hulk guest-spot from the late seventies, which means it's obligated to feature a scene evoking the “Lonely Man Theme” from the Jade Giant's TV series:


Ben Urich observes the fight between Daredevil and the Hulk, spots Heather Glenn there too, and hears her shout “Matt!” On the final page, Ben begins writing an article exposing Matt as Daredevil.


(Also, note that Urich is described as “…a dependable, if unspectacular, reporter…” I'm really not sure when he became the Daily Bugle’s resident hard-boiled, no-nonsense crime guy. I don't really think it happens in the upcoming solo Miller run. I seem to recall he's generally pretty unspectacular there too. Indeed, Miller's Urich almost always comes across as a bit of a schlub in over his head, all the way through the "Born Again" era years from now.

My Thoughts: It's interesting to view the Roger McKenzie/Frank Miller DAREDEVIL as sort of a prototype for what will become Miller’s eventual solo run. We've seen Ben Urich (whose debut technically predates Miller’s arrival by a few issues), Josie’s, and Turk. We've had a glimpse of DD as an enemy of organized crime thanks to Eric Slaughter’s appearance. And now we get him as the guy who won't give up; won't go down. The guy who, eventually, just might show us that “a man without hope is a man without fear.”

(Yeah, technically that line is from Miller’s second run, which I won't be covering, but it's just too good not to bring up.)


Not that there's anything special about this, necessarily. Marvel heroes come from a grand tradition of never giving up and overcoming impossible odds to emerge victorious. Captain America’s done it. The Thing’s done it. Spider-Man perhaps did it most famously in the legendary “Master Planner” saga. But still, this idea that Daredevil is either too stubborn or too stupid to give in, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, is a hallmark of Frank Miller’s time with the character — and it turns out his first depiction of that iconic Daredevil was drawn for another writer’s script.

7 comments:

  1. But still, this idea that Daredevil is either too stubborn or too stupid to give in, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, is a hallmark of Frank Miller’s time with the character

    As a harsh notion, the final panel refers to his late dad who got killed because of that attitude which played a part in his refusing to throw the fixed boxing match.

    Again, a punny title to the story.

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  2. I always remembered that it had been Miller who had Urich as a top-notch reporter.
    If it wasn't Miller, I'm guessing it didn't happen until the Brain Bendis run, as I don't remember Urish being used much between "Born Again" and Bendis.

    There was a story right after Miller's first run ended, I believe it was Denny O'Neil, which spotlighted Urich, and I came to really like the character so much.
    It's the story where Urich gets a "deal with the devil" from the Kingpin.

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    1. I think Miller's Urich is still kind of an "in over his head" guy by the time of "Born Again". I haven't read that story in a long time, but I just have this recollection that he spent much of it in fear of the Kingpin. But within a few years, Urich would be the type of guy who might stand up to the Kingpin under most circumstances.

      Honestly, the more I think about it, I feel like it was the Spider-Man comics of the era that painted Urich as the hard-boiled type, unfazed by most anything, rather than the DD comics.

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  3. Matt just had a pair of purple slacks lying around for Bruce to wear?

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    1. The feud between Daredevil and Kingpin started somewhere and took many nasty forms.

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    2. I suspect most Marvel heroes have a spare pair of purple pants in their dresser drawer just on the chance they might need to shelter Bruce Banner for a night.

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    3. Those are both good answers.

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