Monday, March 27, 2017


Writer/Penciler: Frank Miller | Inker : Klaus Janson
Colors: Glynis Wein | Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Daredevil questions Turk about some big goings-on in the underworld and learns that New York’s mob bosses have put out a hit on their former leader, the ex-Kingpin of Crime. Meanwhile, the Kingpin, now living in Japan, is prepared to turn over his crime files to the U.S. Attorney General in exchange for a complete pardon.

The Kingpin’s wife, Vanessa, travels to the United States to hire Nelson & Murdock to represent the Kingpin in this matter. But their meeting is interrupted by a mercenary sent by the local mob. Daredevil fights him, however he proves only a delaying tactic and Vanessa is kidnapped firing the brief skirmish.

Meanwhile. Bullseye is released from prison and immediately hired by the mob to take out the Kingpin. Daredevil shows up at mob HQ to attempt to talk Bullseye out of this, but the mercenary easily trounces DD, dropping him from a skyscraper. He manages to break his fall, but lands unconscious in a garbage truck.

Later, the Kingpin arrives in New York on a private airstrip. The mob, tipped to his destination, awaits him — but the plane turns out to be a decoy, exploding and taking out the armed gangsters. The Kingpin then lands via a second plane and declares war on New York’s crime bosses.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: As noted above, Turk shows up again this issue, as does Josie’s Bar, as does her ill-fated plate glass window (this is the second time so far it's been broken). Turk reveals that he was let go from Eric Slaughter’s gang following the events of issue 168.

The Kingpin retired at Vanessa’s behest in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #197 from October of 1979 (about a year-and-a-half prior to this issue), though that story is not footnoted here.

Matt detects that Foggy is hiding something from him, but is unable to determine what.

Detective Manolis, that jack of all trades and jurisdictions, shows up again, this time investigating Vanessa’s kidnapping in Hell's Kitchen. (Again, previously we've seen him respond to an armed robbery on Long Island and a multiple homicide somewhere in Manhattan.)

Bullseye is released from prison thanks to a high-priced lawyer convincing a jury that his tumor made him kill those dozen or so people last issue. (This feels questionable to me even by comic book standards.)

I have no idea if this is an actual structure in Manhattan, but the skyscraper which will serve as the Kingpin’s headquarters for pretty much the entirety of the eighties makes its debut here, under the control of his former lieutenants.

My Thoughts: And now begins Frank Miller’s single greatest contribution to the Daredevil mythos. I know, you can point to Elektra or maybe Stick or even Turk or Josie’s or perhaps the tone and mood of Miller’s DD as things that have stood the test of time and become essential elements of the character and his world, but I'd argue that none of those is as important as the Daredevil/Kingpin feud.

Kingpin was, by this point, kind of a washed up Spider-Man villain. He had come on strong, no doubt about that. A cursory look at the Stan Lee/John Romita Spidey comics of the sixties reveals that the Kingpin appeared in six issues within a year of his first appearance — half of the publication year was devoted to the Kingpin! He would cool down a bit afterward, but Kingpin remained a favorite of Lee and Romita for all of their time together on Spider-Man.

But, whether because he didn't interest them or because they couldn't figure out what to do with him, subsequent writers never did much of anything with the character. I'm not sure Gerry Conway, Stan Lee’s immediate successor, ever used him at all. Following Conway, Len Wein and Marv Wolfman each used the character one time in their respective runs, and it was Wolfman who retired him. Essentially he appeared in a whopping two story arcs, at least in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, throughout the entirety of the 1970s!

So, with the Kingpin out to pasture—at least so far as Spider-Man’s writers were concerned—enter Frank Miller. Daredevil is already established a a “street level” hero; practically, in a way, Marvel’s Batman. He's taken on organized crime already, but Miller sees the chance to pit him against Marvel’s top gangster. Thus, the Kingpin is back in the picture.

As for those other elements of Miller’s and how they figure into DD’s ongoing mythos: sure, other writers have used Elektra, but rarely in the pages of DAREDEVIL. Turk and Josie’s are more recurring gags than anything else. Stick shows up now and then, but you can go years seeing neither hide nor hair of him. The Kingpin, however—well, as of this issue he's officially been poached from Spider-Man’s rogues gallery and nearly every subsequent writer to touch Daredevil will offer their take on the DD/Kingpin feud. If that doesn't qualify him for “greatest contribution” status, I don't know what does.


  1. Ahh, "KRESSH", the time honored Frank Miller sound effect for breaking glass. The apex of which is probably the two panels in Dark Knight Returns that are merely that sound effect to indicate Batman breaking glass.

    And now the last piece of Miller's work on DD is in place with the Kingpin. Miller elevates the character to being DD's nemesis, and again, looking across his work on Daredevil, it is amazing how well Miller could build on his work in plot; he's laying the groundwork already both for the Daredevil graphic novel and Born Again throughout this run with the Kingpin. I had honestly thought the Kingpin featured more in Spider-man than he did-at the time, I honestly thought taking him as a villain was a big deal-but part of it might have just been how well Miller realized him. Of course I thought he was a big deal villain, Miller sold him as one.

    1. Yeah, Kingpin was basically a has-been at this point. As I noted above, no one other than Stan Lee seemed to know what to do with him. Though I probably should add that I based my entire recap above only on the character's Spider-Man appearances. I know Kingpin popped up in CAPTAIN AMERICA during Steve Englehart's run, so he may have appeared elsewhere too.