Monday, February 13, 2017


Writer: Roger McKenzie | Artist: Frank Miller | Inker: Klaus Janson
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: After spending some time in the hospital, in critical condition following his fight with the Hulk, Daredevil is upgraded to stable. Ben Urich pays him a visit and reveals that he knows DD is actually Matt Murdock, and that he's written an article exposing this fact. Ben asks Matt why he became Daredevil, and Matt recaps his origin. When the story is finished, Ben burns the article rather than publish it.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Black Widow sits by Daredevil’s side the entire time he's at the hospital. She's visited by the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and -- for some reason -- Power Man and Iron Fist, even though, as a later Miller issue will reveal, those last two have never actually met DD at this point.

As noted above, Daredevil’s origin is retold here. The short of it is that Matt Murdock is the son of a boxer who encouraged him to study regularly in order to make something of himself. Matt was blinded by radioactive chemicals which also gave him a “radar sense” but he kept the ability to himself as he made his way through law school. However when Matt’s father was killed by his crooked manager for refusing to throw a fight, Matt became Daredevil to avenge him.

My Thoughts: It's kind of funny how nearly every legendary Marvel run from the seventies/eighties features an issue where the creator(s) in question revisit the hero’s origin story. David Michelinie and Bob Layton retold Iron Man’s in IRON MAN #122. Roger Stern updated Spider-Man’s origin in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #60. John Byrne recapped the Fantastic Four’s numerous times, first in FF #245. And so on.

I'm sure this is at least in part due to the influence of Jim Shooter, an editor-in-chief who pushed the philosophy that “every issue is someone’s first" perhaps harder than anyone else -- ever -- in the history of comics. I've never seen it confirmed or verified anywhere, but it would not surprise me to learn that revisiting a hero’s origin about once a year or so, whether in a full-blown retelling or a single page recap, might have been a Shooter edict.

Thus, here it's Frank Miller’s turn, along with Roger McKenzie, to get readers up to speed on who Daredevil is and where he comes from. One of my favorite things about Matt Murdock is the esteem in which he holds his father, at least at this point. So many heroes come from dysfunctional homes, especially nowadays, that it's almost refreshing to see a character have a normal, loving relationship with a parent. I realize heroes need some angst in their backgrounds, or need to be made "relatable" to readers, but some of us relate to a perfectly happy upbringing by awesome parents.

(Of course, Frank Miller would decide in a couple years that there simply had to be a dark side to Matt's father, so this loving admiration will be tainted by an act of violence before we're done with his run.)

Lastly, this issue features a pin-up showing the originally drawn cover for the prior issue (a fill-in which we didn't cover), though the blurb on the page erroneously refers to it as the original cover for this issue.

(And, great as Daredevil's backstory is, one must admit that it probably would have been enhanced at least somewhat by a leopard attack.)


  1. Origin recaps like that don’t bother me. Just the opposite, in fact. Seeing how a new creative team puts a spin on a character’s backstory, to me, helps define both their run and the character’s image/mood/approach for that era in a way somewhat inclusive of but not limited to mere notions of what we generally mean by continuity.

    Wally Wood — the great Wally Wood, and despite all the assistants, swiping, and tracing (often of his own work) over the years, he is rightfully “the great Wally Wood” — inked this cover, his last work for Marvel and one of his last comics jobs. Maybe even his very last job, period; I’m going by a look at rough dates, not heavy research.

    Nice shadows on the splash from Miller & Janson too, although the layout of the page as a whole doesn’t quite work.

    1. Oh, I have nothing against periodic origin recaps at all. Mainly I'm just wondering if all these creators chose to do them on their own, or if Jim Shooter told them to.

      I agree, Wally Wood is/was great -- weirdly, I have no problems with his swipes and traces, or his "panels that always work". In a strange way, the practice reminds me of the Filmation cartoons I watched as a child and their copious use of stock footage.

      That's an aside, though -- I hadn't noticed Wood, one of Daredevil's founding fathers, inked this cover! But now that you've pointed it out, I can totally see his style in the shadows.

    2. One origin recap we did not see was of the Uncanny X-Men!
      Nor with the maybe with team books, it wasn't such a popular concept.

      I don't remember Simonson recapping Thor's origin as part of his run.
      The same goes for Captain America around this time period.

      So, it might just an artistic choice, rather than editorial.
      It's an easy way to fill page count, if you're running behind, as you don't need to come up with new plot.
      Basically, like the stock footage filler in cartoons.


    3. Within a year of this DD issue, Stern & Byrne laid out Cap’s origin in Captain America #255 and Claremont & Byrne surveyed the X-Men’s entire history to date in not-yet-Uncanny X-Men #138. Don’t know whether editorial mandates were responsible but I suspect Byrne is as likely a culprit in both cases as Shooter.

      @Matt: // I have no problems with his swipes and traces //

      Neither do I. That’s an interesting line you drew to the Filmation cartoons’ heavy reuse of key cels; Grantray-Lawrence’s Spider-Man also sticks out for me in that regard, and there was a kind of comfort in the familiarity through repetition. Wood’s “22 Panels That Always Work” is a primer in how an artist can avoid being too repetitive in his/her layout when faced with an extended sequence of unvarying content — its subtitle (“or Some Interesting Ways to Get Some Variety into Those Boring Panels Where Some Dumb Writer Has a Bunch of Lame Characters Sitting Around and Talking for Page after Page”) is more apt than its title, because he's really offering conceptual approaches rather than exact layouts — although I suppose if one relies too heavily on just a couple of Wood’s suggestions that could grate.