Monday, February 27, 2017

DAREDEVIL #166

"TILL DEATH DO US PART!"
Writer/Co-Plotters/Penciler: Roger McKenzie & Frank Miller | Inker: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: On the day of Foggy Nelson’s wedding, Daredevil’s old enemy, the Gladiator, holds the Digby Museum of Human History hostage, threatening to execute several visiting children unless a champion is sent to battle him. Matt Murdock changes to Daredevil and heads for the museum, where he challenges and defeats the Gladiator, then makes his way to the church, where he barely arrives in time for the wedding’s conclusion.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: The children’s chaperone happens to be Betsy Beatty, a social worker assigned to the Gladiator himself, a.k.a. Melvin Potter — who believes Betsy is in love with him.

As described above, Foggy is married this issue to his fiancée, Debbie. Matt serves as best man. Foggy’s family shows up for the wedding, including his mother and father, his sister Candice, and his fraternity brother Porkchop Peterson. Candice apparently has a romantic interest in Matt.

This is, according to my internet sources, the first appearance of Foggy's mom, a portly, friendly looking housewife with reddish hair like her son. Several years later, Karl Kesel and Cary Nord would introduce Rosalind Sharpe, a thin, angular brunette attorney as Foggy's mother during their brief run on DAREDEVIL. I'm uncertain whether these two depictions have ever been reconciled.


My Thoughts: This marks Roger McKenzie’s final DAREDEVIL issue, though whether he knew that at the time, I'm uncertain. The brief span of his run featuring Frank Miller’s artwork was generally quite good, laying a great deal of groundwork for Miller’s solo run. But McKenzie’s tenure was also marred by a couple peculiar scheduling issues. First there was the tease of a Hulk story pushed back by a fill-in. But more importantly, as this issue concludes, we're promised that the next installment will feature the Punisher in a story the original unpublished cover calls “Child’s Play” -- but this isn't what we’ll actually see. Instead, issue 167 will be guest-written by David Michelinie, with Frank Miller taking over as sole writer with #168. “Child’s Play” and the Punisher will be nowhere to be seen until making thier way into DAREDEVIL's pages two years later in issue 193!

The Hulk story seems to have been a deadline situation, pure and simple. For whatever reason, something happened and a fill-in was necessitated to cover that month's issue. The "Child's Play" delay, on the other hand, was -- as far as I understand it -- due to conflict with the Comics Code Authority. The story as eventually printed will feature a drug abuse plotline, which the Code quashed when it was initially conceived. Interestingly, even though the next issue will therefore be a fill-in required by the Code's interference, it will still be drawn by Miller, presumably under a time-crunch (we'll see much later that he had already drawn the original issue 166, which means he presumably needed to re-draw the issue from scratch for the new story) -- and going forward, Miller will not miss a single issue in his capacity as the series' writer/artist.

All that said, as noted above, I generally like McKenzie’s DAREDEVIL work and it's almost a shame to see him go. Frank Miller’s solo material is held up as one of the sacred runs in all of Marvel comicdom, but I can't help wondering what things might have looked like had Miller and McKenzie continued their collaboration as co-plotters for a while longer.

2 comments:

  1. Regarding the Comics Code, this particular month was a bit infamous in that regard with UNCANNY #137 missing the CCA stamp; some say it was because of Jean Grey committing suicide in the issue, but officially it just "didn't fit" because of that big yellow "worth $2500" banner.

    As can be witnessed by clicking your "September 1980" tag right there, most of the comics managed to have the CCA stamp anyway, the one exception being CAPTAIN AMERICA #249 where coincidentally Machinesmith intentionally lures Cap to kill him.

    If you now say there was a third CCA-eschewing story planned for this very month (if deadline situation wouldn't have wrecked things up), I'm even less willing to buy the official line.

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    1. Interesting -- the Code seal would've fit just fine to the right of the CAPTAIN AMERICA log on issue 249. And they just placed it partially on top of the logos for PETER PARKER and DAREDEVIL. Perhaps the seal really was excluded from the two suicide issues on purpose...

      (Also, how weird is it that John Byrne drew two technology-assisted suicides in the same month??)

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