Daredevil #146

Title:"Duel!"
Writer:Jim Shooter
Penciler:Gil Kane
Inker:Jim Mooney
Cover:Gil Kane/Dave Cockrum
Colours:Don Warfield
Letters:Denise Wohl
Editor:Archie Goodwin
Assistant Editor:None
Date:June 1977
Cover Price:0.30

Characters

Bullseye
Daredevil
Foggy Nelson
Heather Glenn
Matt Murdock

Daredevil #145


Daredevil #147

Dave Cockrum
Volume 1 - 141 143 145 146 151
Volume 2 - None
Volume 3 - None
Volume 4 - None
Volume 5 - None
Gil Kane
Volume 1 - 80 81 82 84 85 88 90 91 94 95 96 97 104 109 112 114 115 116 117 119 120 121 122 124 125 126 127 128 133 134 139 141 146 147 148 150 151 152
Volume 2 - None
Volume 3 - None
Volume 4 - None
Volume 5 - None
Jim Mooney
Volume 1 - 111 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 141 142 145 146
Volume 2 - None
Volume 3 - None
Volume 4 - None
Volume 5 - None
Jim Shooter
Volume 1 - 141 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 223
Volume 2 - None
Volume 3 - None
Volume 4 - None
Volume 5 - None

Issue Summary

Summary/Review by Pete

Summary

After his heightened senses have identified Bullseye (in civilian attire) on a crowded New York street, Matt changes from his DD costume and follows him into a gun shop where the marksman hopes to steal to add to his collection. Matt thwarts the attempted robbery, but has difficulty convincing the police of Bullseye's intention. The disbelieving police officers, who fail to recognise the wanted Bullseye and let him leave, question Matt as to how a blind man could possibly have known someone was about to commit assault and robbery. Matt finally is able to give chase and begins to look for Bullseye. However, just as he decides to change back into his Daredevil costume, he is knocked unconscious by a golf ball thrown at the back of his head from the ace marksman.

Later, the now costumed Bullseye reflects on the proceedings and frets as to his lost reputation. However, elsewhere Matt has troubles of his own. He's found that the knock on the head has somehow made him lose his unique "radar sense". He is now, truly, blind. His troubles continue to grow as his law partner Foggy Nelson informs him about the latest TV bulletin. Bullseye, in a grand gesture designed to restore his reputation in the eyes of the underworld, has kidnapped a group of TV executives and is broadcasting an ultimatum live over the air; either Daredevil comes forward to fight to the death or he will kill the hostages live on TV.

Although he faces almost certain death in taking on one of the most deadliest men he has ever fought without his radar, Matt quickly dons his DD costume and appears at the studio. After a particularly brutal battle and despite being shot in the shoulder, Matt wins through, part by luck, but mostly through sheer determination and an inner belief that makes him refuse to give up. A disbelieving Bullseye is resoundly beaten.

Extracting the identity of the person who had previously hired Bullseye to kill Nelson & Murdock, however, leaves a bittersweet taste in victory.

Review

There are those (and I believe them to be many) fairly knowledgeable fans or readers of Daredevil/Marvel Comics/Comic books/ cereal packets who believe that "nothing much" happened to DD for years before Frank Miller came along at the tail end of the 1970's. For them, the one hundred and fifty seven issues from April 1964 through to March 1979 seems to fall into some kind of generic "old school" period for the title, full of cheesy swashbuckling super heroics mixed with soap opera schmaltz and the odd overrated artist or writer. To some, ( and I believe them to be wrong), there is no real difference between a Stan Lee or a Steve Gerber. (Perhaps another question could/should be, "Why is it today that of the new breed of comics creators, many seem to write/look the same as each other and, with trade paperbacks in mind, seem to take one hundred and fifty seven issues to say or dramatise anything?")

I could ask that question, but I won't.

However, even the most perfunctory glance, armed with a sense of perspective and context, and (perhaps in these days of computer enhanced graphics and coloring) a less cynical eye and an open mind, opens up many an interesting and worthwhile vista in these early, some say "prehistoric") efforts.

Armed with such an approach as you begin this journey into pre-history, what quickly becomes clear are the distinct differences in tone and style from each new creative team on the title during these years. Contrast Lee/Wood with Lee/Colan, or Conway/Colan with Isabella/Brown, for an example or four. Nor do you have to look far, (whilst acknowledging the somewhat staggeringly permanent impact Mr F Miller had not only on this title but the comic book industry in general,) when you seek what influences he himself soaked up along the way to comic book immortality. Eisner's "Spirit" is the "so - obvious - so - often - cited - its - now - officially - boring example" But in taking on his first ever regular assignment, and checking out the history of the book itself, by his own admission, he related more than anything to Jim Shooter's version of Daredevil. This issue and the small number of issues that follow show why.

Shooter's turn in the scribe hot-seat was so brief, so short, it hardly qualifies as a "run" in many peoples eyes. It's quite often overlooked by the vast majority of people. It starts, stops, starts again with a little help from his friends, before "settling down" to what can only be described as the briefest glimpse of the future, like a quick sighting of a shooting star that burned and faded all to quickly, but at its peak illuminated the very way forward for the next great innovator himself. (It even provided the "innovator" with an ideal artistic "collaborator", more next issue) This star burnt its brightest over the next few months, an only slightly longer period than its number of issues suggests (the book ironically turned back to a bi - monthly schedule during this time) and its major players soon moved on to bigger things. With the obvious exception of the aforementioned "collaborator" who thankfully stayed put, Kane himself went on to more iconic rendering elsewhere and Shooter left to directly become a rather notorious and controversial Editor in Chief at Marvel.

But I start these little time capsule reviews, these glimpses into another world when creators actually created and issues shipped on time, with #146, and I do it for a reason. It's the first cohesive issue as fitting into what can be described as a "vision" or having its authors stamp on. It could be described as a "fairly typical for its time superhero/villain slugfest", except its not, because at its essence it starts a process that puts this book, firmly, at the "street level, gritty" drama that Miller will make his own in the next few years. Let's face it, the potentially rewarding results of using this character in such a setting had hardly been overused in the past (Lee's #47, Thomas's #69, Wolfman's #139).

Anyone who holds Miller in high regard cannot fail to be impressed by Shooter as DD scribe. It's street level DD, DD as detective, DD working things out, DD as a distinct, particular personality, that finally begins to bear a resemblance to the DD now widely known. Indeed, its pre - Miller Miller. There are very few "light" moments in this book, no one smiles, cracks a joke, fails to do anything but take the next step on a downward trail very, very seriously. Sure, he saves innocent lives, but he curses the inefficient police, pushes his lover further away from himself, and ends the book with a shock revelation that has long term repercussions on his life. There are few laughs in Murdock's world a la 1977, as the downbeat nature of the book takes its first few steps towards the Noir of Miller.

#146 is the "nearly" issue for me. Many of the innovations and foundations I write about here really don't click into place until the next issue. But there is no denying the book is certainly heading in a new gritty, mature direction away from the stereotypical image of the swashbuckling / wisecracking/ poor man's Spiderman image which this character never really has been, apart from about five issues in 1967. The changes to Matt and to Bullseye both highlight that.

But a few things don't play in its favor. Mooneys inking, to me, just doesn't do Kane's pencils justice. That's a problem that's about to be rectified thankfully, but the look of this issue doesn't "gel" like the following two. The colouring also seems a little off kilter, the tone of the book is a little too one dimensional, even for an old school Marvel comic book from 1977. I don't know if this is the factor, but to me the whole thing looks a bit "over lit", which seems odd in a book I've described as the beginning of "Miller Noir". However, the depiction of DD as he makes his entrance to the TV studio, a brief, small panel that it is, shows the way forward for this character in such a way that it.s still being used today. Yet here it is, the conception of a famous take on a popular character. Miller and Janson took note.

The cover hits all the right notes. Kane's cover work was always memorable and dramatic, which is why Lee had him draw so many over the years for Marvel. His grimacing Daredevil is bowed and bloodied, as both gun and camera are pointed at him, the clever use of TV monitors behind him showing the scene from "behind" the viewer, a gloating Bullseye, the man who never misses, with DD in his sights at point blank range. Place it in line with most covers around this period and this one stands out a mile. This Bullseye is a killer and he means business, and it.s hard to believe that it is only five issues ago that Dave Cockrum.s cover had Bullseye shooting DD out of a giant crossbow, where his only ambition appears to be auditioning for a guest appearance in the camp 1960's Batman TV show. Only about ten years too late.

This sea change also mirrors the transformation in the characterisation of Bullseye himself. When we first hear Bullseye speak, Shooter has him sounding off like the dramatic raconteur of the early Woolman appearances. But by the end of #146, he resembles the Bulleye we know and love/hate, the confident killer, concerned about "his rep" and losing his self belief only when it becomes obvious that DD has hidden reserves that he needs to call upon. The notion that Bullseye would hover around after his foiled attempt at robbery at the gun shop and strike at Matt in petulant retribution with the golf ball ings true with later depictions of the character. #146 in fact places both the characters of DD and Bullseye face to face and, for the very first time, they satisfactorily complement each other as adversaries in ways that mirror later duels, this is the very point where Bullseye finally moves up into the major league of DD villains where he.s stayed all this time.

And the art. The look. Almost there. Almost. Mooney's inking is perfunctory, Kane's pencils, like his cover, manage to dazzle, but only just, as Mooney's inking is perfunctory and does nothing to enhance the dynamics that Kane tries to infuse the tale with. No, the art hits it's stride next issue, and how. Then we really begin to see pre Miller Miller.

But #146 is memorable for two things. Firstly, the best portrayal of Bullseye thus far, the real roots of the character development that most comic book readers know so well today. Secondly for providing the nutritious groundwork that saw the shoots of recognition grow, not only for this book, but arguably for the industry as a whole. A sweeping statement, and grand claim, but if Miller has influenced the industry, and this work itself influenced Miller, maybe more people need to go and take a look.

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