Monday, August 21, 2017


Writer/Penciler : Frank Miller | Inker : Terry Austin
Colorist: Lynn Varley | Letterer: Joe Rosen | Editor: Denny O’Neil

The Plot: Daredevil visits Bullseye in the hospital and plays a round of Russian Roulette with him while his inner monolgooue reflects on a boy who recently shot a schoolmate after seeing DD beat up his father, and on his own father as well.

In the end, DD reveals that there are no bullets in the gun.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: For the most part there are none. This is the final issue of Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL run and is a stand-alone installment. However we do learn that Matt’s dad once hit him after he got into a fight with some classmates.

However, way back when I covered issue 169, Miller's second issue as writer, I noted that he had provided a nice monologue from Daredevil on why, no matter how bad things got, he could never actually kill Bullseye. This issue gives us a very nice bookend to that speech as we see that, sure enough, even at his darkest, Daredevil will hew to his beliefs and Bullseye will live.

My Thoughts: So Matt’s dad once hit him while in a drunken stupor. Because heaven forbid our hero’s idolization of his father be completely earnest. There just has to be some kind of darkness under the surface, doesn’t there? Miller tries to sell this as the moment Matt decided he would become a lawyer, when he recognized that his father had lost control and that laws exist to punish people for doing such things — but why? Isn’t it just possible that a guy could become an attorney and a superhero simply because he was instilled with good values by a father he looked up to? Isn’t that enough?

Apparently not.

It's kind of odd that Miller ends his run this way. The story has nothing to do with any of his ongoing plots. No Foggy to be seen; no one, in fact, aside from Daredevil and Bullseye, plus Jack Murdock and the one-off characters in DD's flashbacks. Miller already wrapped up Heather, Elektra, and the Kingpin; I guess he figured he should give Bullseye a sendoff too.

And Klaus Janson is gone. I don't know why he left, but I suppose it's nice, at least, that Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL ends with full Miller pencils, and Terry Austin does a great job inking Miller, so while Janson's distinct look is missed, it's not the end of the world.

One other note about this one. Try to think of it from Bullseye’s perspective. Actually, no need to try. Here you go. This is the full issue from Bullseye’s point of view (remember, DD never actually says anything to Bullseye here; it's all an internal monologue):

It’s kinda funny but also super creepy.

And now for some thoughts on Miller's DAREDEVIL run as a whole. Do I like it? Obviously. I’ve read it about four times now in the past fifteen-ish years. I already owned it in trade paperback format, but I sold those trades off to upgrade to the Omnibus. This is the definitive Daredevil — at least for the most part.

I have a lot of all-time favorite Marvel runs. I wrote about many of them a few years back. But with nearly all of them, I can find some nits to pick here and there, and Miller’s DAREDEVIL is no exception. I love how he handled the supporting cast, I love the crime noir influence. The comedy pretty much always hits its mark. It’s very well-written stuff, and it’s really hard to believe that Miller was only twenty-four years old when his first issue as writer hit the stands, and twenty-six when his run ended. His writing conveyed a sense of worldliness and maturity well beyond his years. I can’t imagine anyone I knew in my twenties churning out a product this deep and throught-provoking.

But, as the run goes along, it becomes plain that Miller wants to deconstruct the character of Matt Murdock, and I really don’t like that. I know deconstructionism was all the rage in the eighties, and certainly Miller was at the forefront of that movement with material such as DAREDEVIL and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. It’s perhaps telling that my preferred Miller Batman is YEAR ONE, which is mostly more of a construction of the character. I also prefer Miller’s original DAREDEVIL to his later run, also a deconstruction, the famous “Born Again” arc.

I just like my superheroes to be super. To be better than me; better than anyone I know. And Miller’s Daredevil starts off that way, through a number of issues rife with heroic moments and nobility. But by the end, Matt Murdock has become a manipulative bully, and Daredevil has become a hero who revels in wanton violence. Mind you, this all happens after Elektra’s death, and Miller makes it plain that our hero's actions are a result of that event, but it’s still a bit much, especially when the character has no real overt, dramatic redemptive moment other than the “purification” of Elektra which is way too low-key to make up for his previous behavior.

So yeah, Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL is very good. Well plotted, well written, and entertaining pretty much all the way through, and it’s great to watch the evolution of Miller as both a writer and an artist within its pages. I just think he begins to woefully mistreat the title character as he nears the end of the run, which is a real shame, because it sets a precedent which still hasn’t been overcome by anyone to this day (at least not for any extended period of time): the idea that Matt Murdock is kind of an unstable violence-junkie.


  1. I think I've expressed enough of my love for 167-181 in these posts for you to know how much I loved most of Miller's run on Daredevil; in terms of my favorite Marvel runs, it ranks only behind Walt Simonson's Thor and just ahead of the Claremont/Byrne X-Men.

    (Incidentally, the answer to the trivia question no one ever asked: DD 181 replaced X-Men #137 as my favorite comic book, but it was Thor #362 that replaced the death of Elektra as my favorite comic. So those three runs were clearly important to me.)

    Reading these posts has reminded me how much I loved Miller's Daredevil...up to #185. As I said before, Miller was clearly running out of gas by the end, with sloppy plotting and characterization, and even repeating plots (just how many times did Turk steal a high tech suit to fight DD?) and the Heather plots left a bad taste in my mouth. While this is a pretty stunning finale to the run, it was, honestly, past time for Miller to go. At the time, it felt like he'd outgrown Daredevil, which, given the arc of his career since then is kind of funny. That said, man, that run from 167-181 is damn near flawless, and a masterclass in plotting a story and paying things off.

    I've enjoyed reading these posts, and occasionally offering the perspective of someone who bought these at his local 7-11 back in the day. It's been a fun ride. Well done!

  2. Thanks for writing all of these reviews. Spoilers for people who haven't read Born's not just a deconstruction of Daredevil but a triumphant reconstruction as well and has the happiest ending to Frank Miller's Daredevil; I love that last panel, Matt and Karen hand in hand and a very brief caption. For me, that's the "FIN" to Miller's work on the character and though there's a lot of suffering, darkness and grief, it ends in bright daylight on a note of compassion, forgiveness and love.

  3. Well, I thought Miller's Daredevil run just got better and better. Yes, in many ways, the second part of his run is just a re-tread of earlier stories - Daredevil loses his radar sense again, the Hand return, Turk steals another supersuit - but Miller does it better the second time. The first dozen issues are the work of a talented amateur, while by #185, we are witnessing the work of a professional at the peak of his powers. I love all the deconstruction of Daredevil's character. Of course, Jack Murdoch wasn't perfect, who is? Raising a kid on his own in a rough neighbourhood, with little or no money - the guy lost his temper once. Matt recognising that he has put his father on a pedestal and that he had flaws is all part of growing up.Matt's and Heather's relationship is haunting and disturbing - and like no other in mainstream comics.

    Oh well, wouldn't the world be boring if we all agreed about everything.

  4. Thank you for the comments, guys, and I'm pleased you enjoyed these posts. Much as I have some issues with the tail end of the run, Miller's DAREDEVIL is definitive in my mind, and I really do enjoy it.

    Also, Anonymous 1 -- good point about "Born Again". I tend to rag on the deconstruction aspect, but by the end, Miller has put Daredevil back together again and set him up with a new beginning. I do love the final page of the final issue, with Matt and Karen walking along a sunny street together.


  5. // his inner monolgooue //

    I think I’m having one of those myself tonight… 8^)

    // Here you go. //

    Neat idea. Thanks for that.

    I really could’ve done without the flashback to Matt’s childhood too, but the story about the kid — with some kind of framing sequence, if not necessarily this one — is exactly the kind of episode the Netflix series should be taking a break from its season-long plots to give us.