Monday, April 24, 2017


Story & Art : Frank Miller | Finished Art : Klaus Janson
Colors: Glynis Wein & Klaus Janson | Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Elektra is on the trail of a bounty in Paris when her prey is killed by a ninja assassin from the Hand organization. Elektra follows the ninja back to his lair, where she learns the Hand’s next targets are Matt Murdock and his current client. Elektra hops a plane to New York.

The next night, after a court date for Melvin Potter, Daredevil returns home where, as Murdock, he's attacked by the Hand. Matt fights them off with some aid from an unseen Elektra. The next day, Matt arrives at the law offices of Murdock and Nelson to find Foggy present. As they talk, the Hand move in on the building but Elektra fights them off — however one ninja launches an explosive which hits the building and injures Matt.

Matt comes to in the hospital to find his radar sense gone. But before he can dwell on this, he learns that Melvin is being transferred and takes off to protect him. Meanwhile, Elektra busts Melvin out of a paddy wagon and provides him with his Gladiator paraphernalia. They're attacked by the Hand and are on the defensive when Daredevil shows up to help. The Hand retreat, leaving DD and Melvin alone. As Melvin describes the woman who aided him, Daredevil realizes who she is.

Meanwhile, the defeated Hand operatives are executed for their failure by a towering ninja, who is then presented with a photo of his next target: Elektra.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This issue features the debut appearance of the Hand, who will go on to become recurring thorns in the sides of Daredevil, Elektra, and Wolverine for decades to come. Besides being ninjas, part of their schtick is that they disintegrate upon being defeated. Elektra notes that she learned the ninja arts from them.

Ben Urich puts in a cameo, informing a fellow reporter that rumor holds Nelson & Murdock (referred to as “the hottest legal team in the country”) are finished as partners.

The Kingpin also has a brief appearance, in which we learn the Hand has been cannibalizing his organization’s business — but he informs his new right-hand man, Flint, that he has commissioned the Hand through intermediaries to kill Murdock and Potter due to Daredevil’s apparent interest in their case, thus bringing DD eventually into conflict with the Hand in hopes they will wipe each other out.

The cause of Foggy’s moodiness over the past few issues is revealed, as he explains that Nelson & Murdock’s federal funding has been cut and, as a free legal clinic, they now have no income to pay the bills. (Interestingly, this revelation doesn't seem to track with Foggy’s prior behavior, mainly last issue where he seemed jealous of, and angry at, Matt for some reason.)

Two men who appear to be based on real people are driving Melvin’s paddy wagon, though I have no idea who they're supposed to be.

My Thoughts: I think it's safe to say that, aside from infusing the series with a general “hard-boiled crime” vibe, Frank Miller made four major contributions to Daredevil’s mythos: he brought in the Kingpin as the character’s arch-enemy, and he introduced Elektra, the Hand, and Stick (all loosely affiliated in one way or another). We've seen the first two of those already and Stick is on the way in just a couple more issues. But as of this story, the Hand has arrived.

Nowadays, of course, ninjas have become something of a comic book punchline. Heck, only a few years after their debut here, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird would parody the Hand with “the Foot” in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (which also parodied Daredevil’s origin as well, incidentally). But try to remember that this was before ninjas were ubiquitous in comics (and many other types of entertainment). It was also long before the internet shrank our world considerably. Japan was still the exotic “Far East” in 1981, and ninjas were still new, fresh, and exciting. And ninjas dressed in red, who disintegrated when killed? Forget about it!

This move wasn't a cliché yet in 1981!
So with the arrival of the Hand, Miller’s other major influence has hit DAREDEVIL. His love of pulpy crime stories came aboard pretty much immediately. Now his interest in Japanese culture and history is here as well. It won't get as much play over the next several issues, but it will definitely form a throughline for much of what's to come. And I have to admit, I like ninjas. Even when they're overplayed, they're still a lot of fun if done well. And for my money, Frank Miller does them very well.

1 comment:

  1. While I bought most of the Miller run as it happened off the shelves of, mostly 7-11s and drug stores-we had a comic store where I lived, but when you were a kid and couldn't drive, the stores in walking distance tended to get hit more often-this issue and the next I bought a few years later at a local mall. The mall had a weekend every few months where assorted vendors opened their stalls to do business, and there usually was at least one guy selling comics. He had these, and they were two of the ones I was missing from the run, so I bought them.

    I think I paid a combined $15 for them, in 1986 at the height of Miller's success with Dark Knight Returns. For 1986 that was a ton of money!

    It is kind of weird to remember when these were coming out, ninjas and their assorted tropes were new and exciting; I remember reading this run and all of the ninja things in it seemed so fresh and different from normal villainy. Didn't take long for THAT to change, but back then it was cool.