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DD Book Club: In the Hands of Bullseye

 
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:57 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club: In the Hands of Bullseye Reply with quote

In under the wire!

There is a Daredevil Annual coming out this year and I was trying to think of a way to tie in. I thought about something with Echo. However, we did Parts of a Hole already. But the interesting thing is this story is co-written by Roger McKenzie. Since we haven't done any of his work (outside of co-writer credit on Child's Play), I decided to go with a three-parter of his. I decided to name the three-parter after the second part because it seemed the most fitting.

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 159 - Marked for Murder



Quote:
Slaughter gathers his men to take out Daredevil. Bullseye decides to strike at Hornhead through the Black Widow.


Enjoy!

Due 7/30
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the second Daredevil issue Frank Miller drew. He did not write this; Roger McKenzie did. There are panels in this issue that demonstrate the exact noir feel Miller had been hungry to bring to the title. A cigarette lighter illuminates Eric Slaughter's face. (He would later do that with Kingpin.) Another panel shows Daredevil's silhouette lit up by a full moon as he swings off of a water tower. Miller laid the groundwork for his bag of tricks with this issue. While I enjoy the previous issue with the Deathstalker, I felt he was finishing up a story started by McKenzie and Colan, so he didn't have too much room to stretch.

It's easy to judge the McKenzie/Miller issues that preceded the introduction of Elektra in #168 as inferior. Very few comics are as good as the ones that comprise Miller's historic run that ran from #168 until #191, but I think this issue has quite a bit to recommend it. Not only does this issue mark the first appearance of Slaughter, but it's the issue where Ben Urich begins investigating the link between Matt Murdock and Daredevil. Also, the pages that follow the attack on Matt and Foggy are gorgeous. Not only is there that panel with Daredevil's silhouette, but I also love the one with the crumbling facade of that building from 1903. The next page has two rows of panels of Matt concentrating and focusing his senses to figure out exactly what Slaughter's men are up to.

The ensuing battle between Daredevil and the henchmen is good. I really enjoy it when Daredevil tosses his billy club behind him and knocks someone out, catching them completely by surprise. I just found it weird that he stopped fighting them to retrieve his billy club. Also I found the use of yellow on the sides of the crates an odd choice. It made them look like they were partially lit, when Daredevil shattered the light earlier. It made it easy to forget he did that.

Finally, I have to say, while I have read that it is scientifically impossible, I very much enjoy when Matt bats a bullet out of the air with his billy club. I believe this issue is the first time he does that. It just shows how formidable his senses and concentration are. The only problem with this is, as Bullseye rides away in the motorboat, Daredevil can't quite make out the silhouette. He just batted a speeding bullet out of the air, yet he can't make out a silhouette of a full grown man travelling at the speed of a motorboat? It doesn't quite wash with me, but anything to prolong the mystery.

This issue was more enjoyable than I remember it being, probably because I wasn't constantly comparing it to issues Miller himself wrote afterwards. It accomplishes a lot. On top of the stretching of Miller's visual boundaries, and the beginning of Urich's investigation, there also seems to be some antagonism aimed Matt's way within the judiciary. I think I have to rate this issue highly, and give it a 4 out of 5.

On a side note: Is anyone else wondering if McKenzie was partially inspired to create Eric Slaughter by The Mary Tyler Moore Show? I can imagine him watching an episode and thinking, "Murray has such a foreboding last name. Say... that gives me an idea." He even looks a bit like Gavin MacLeod. Maybe it's just me.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hooray, a new writer. It's time for Roger McKenzie. The overwhelming majority of the stuff I've read with him is also with Frank Miller. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Frank Miller had indicated he was on the same page with Roger McKenzie early on in his run. And I think he definitely built on a lot of elements later. It doesn't get the acclaim that Frank Miller gets later, but I don't think it should be dismissed entirely.

This story is the introduction of Eric Slaughter, who is putting a hit out on Daredevil. It's not quite the Kingpin, but there's a start of serious mob villains as Daredevil's foes.

The narration is good. I always like when they play up Daredevil's senses and I think the story uses a third person omniscient narrator well when it's describing the sounds and smells. It's not a cop out using his "radar sense," but showing how a blind man with super senses could gain an advantage over regular people. What follows is a pretty dark and intense fight. In fact, I think it's probably Daredevil at his best.

Obviously, Frank Miller's art is worth commenting on. I think he certainly freshened up the book and gave it a different feel. I think the biggest thing that stands out here is the use of light and shadow. Definitely a highlight.

The best part about the story, imo, is the fight. At parts before that, it seemed a little weak (I'm not sure what was up with that court scene out of context). But that fight is something I had genuinely forgotten about. I could easily see myself referring to it in the future. I'll give the issue Four Stars.
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Darkdevil
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Joined: 04 Apr 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given the iconic status of his original run, it's easy to forget or overlook that Miller originally began on the title as the artist. He and McKenzie seemed to gel right from the start though as this issue clearly shows.

First though, the cover. Miller and Janson produce a dynamic cover, featuring a scenario found within the actual issue for a change. While it may rank high on the list of Miller's best DD covers, it shows his early grasp on action and angle of shot. If I had seen this cover on the racks back when I was a kid, it definitely would've caught my eye and interest.

As for the story inside, McKenzie is one of the unsung giants of Marvel's then stable of writers. It was fun reading his old-school style of writing, with third person narration boxes full of wonderful descriptions, from the range of DD's senses to the drama unfolding alongside the hectic action seen here.

The extended fight scene was great from Matt sowing confusion among the thugs to his usage of his billy club. Although was this Turk's first appearance? Playing up on his hearing sensitivity via the close gunfire then willing himself to deflect the bullet, an excellent end to this encounter.

A nice build-up to a mystery, Miller's growing sense of noir style and pacing, this was a terrific issue and collaboration. Four stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an update, I had been under the mistaken impression that the Daredevil Annual was co-written by McKenzie and Soule. Instead, it seems McKenzie will have a backup story. Not a big deal, just thought I'd clarify that. Now for part two:

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 160 - In the Hands of Bullseye



Quote:
Bullseye captures Black Widow in order to flush Daredevil out.


Due 8/6
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, I love the title of the issue. On the one hand, it's saying that Black Widow is in the hands of Bullseye. On the other hand, it's a play on his mantra that everything is a deadly weapon in the hands of Bullseye. The issue starts off with the probably misnamed "epilogue." It's a brutal fight. By later Frank Miller standards, it's probably pretty tame, but for Marvel at the time, it comes off as pretty violent - particularly with violence towards women.

We cut to the funeral of Maxwell Glenn. Sadly, the issues involving his death are not widely available. I'm still hoping to track them down. However, this is the funeral and Heather wants Matt to quit being Daredevil. It's the usual superhero drama. I noticed he started with "I can't change who I am" and then explained his responsibilities. There's always been a theme that Daredevil is an escape and Matt would probably do it even if he didn't feel obligated. There is also a lovely reference where Matt looks jealously at Peter Parker and Mary Jane and wishes he could be as happy as them. I seem to remember the reverse back in the day with Spider-Man looking jealously at Daredevil.

Daredevil turns to Ben Urich for help. It's pretty standard stuff. Imagine Batman and Commissioner Gordon and you get the same. The only difference is a bit of a prelude to Ben Urich's investigation into Daredevil being Matt Murdock. Once again, it's easy to forget that it's not a Frank Miller story, but a Roger McKenzie story where that occurred. Is this the first time Daredevil trashed Josie's bar? It's another fun scene that frankly fits in as well written by Miller with a good mix of humor and action and even a nice parallel to the boxer on television.

I do want to cycle back to Black Widow, although I may have to comment more next issue. Tasha is a particularly odd choice to be a damsel in distress. After all, she's in the same league as Matt. It's a shame to have her reduced merely to a plot device. On the other hand, for story reasons, she is far and away the most logical choice.

I know Frank Miller said he and McKenzie were on the same page for their early issues. I really think they click here. Regardless of who came up with an idea, the plot beats, the art, and the dialogue all intersect wonderfully. It's just a fun issue. I'm going Four and a Half Stars.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll start with the cover, which is brutally savage. I believe this is the first time Miller drew Bullseye with that crazed expression on his face (unless you count the final panel in the previous issue, which is different.) The cover is a direct reference to the opening fight between him and Black Widow. The idea of him strangling Natasha with the blow dryer cord is pretty horrific. At least she puts up a fight, and frees herself from that. I think she should have been able to dodge the falling chandelier, but this fight couldn't have gone on forever. Also, I didn't know Bullseye had explosive cartridges on his arms. I doubt that's true anymore.

The scene at the cemetery seems to be repeating Matt/Karen scenes from a decade earlier. It's pretty standard "Hero can't make romance work" drama. I did like the sudden transition to Matt's apartment where he thinks, "I hate being alone." I found the line about him envying Peter and Mary Jane quite awkward. Even though we're not told it's Peter and Mary Jane, it's obvious it's them. He knows Peter is Spider-Man. I don't know if Daredevil ever met Mary Jane by this point. But if Matt knows Peter, he knows Peter's struggles. Maybe Peter and Mary Jane were in a good place in September 1979, so maybe the envy makes sense.

Some of Miller's artwork in this issue is gorgeous. I love Daredevil's red eyes when he holds the note and concludes Natasha has been taken.

Bullseye's escape from Bellevue is a little weird in retrospect. I think he used the laces from the pair of boots to kill the therapist, but I'm not sure. He seems to kill the cop, but the Bullseye we know today would have left no one standing, unlike this one who leaves many survivors and witnesses. It was more innocent time in 1979, I guess.

I wonder if this was the first appearance of Josie's. Matt walked into the bar with a very confrontational attitude. It makes me wonder why he didn't just walk in wearing his Daredevil costume. He even addresses Turk by name! It's clear that McKenzie was just biding his time until Matt dramatically reappeared as Daredevil, which he does.

Normally, I have problems when people catch Daredevil by surprise from behind, but I can see how Daredevil would have difficulty dodging that chair being smashed across his back. There wasn't a lot of room to move, after all. Maybe he probably could have reached up and stopped the chair with his hand. Still, it doesn't stop him, and he's going to confront Bullseye in the next issue.

This is a pretty conventional story for a Daredevil issue, although Miller does great work on art here. I don't think it's as good as the previous issue. Apart from the horrific battle between Bullseye and Black Widow, I feel McKenzie didn't try too hard to create something unique this month. I give this a three out of five.
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Darkdevil
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Overall, I would with agree, McKenzie & Miller have a great rhythm here in this issue, from the plot & dialogue to the art & action. The tension of Natasha's abduction is strong, Matt's resolution to rescue her is equally so.

My main nitpick however is Natasha. As Mike mentioned, she's reduced to a plot device here. I think she's a better combatant than shown here but obviously she has to lose for the plot (and Bullseye's plan) to progress. Their fight was brutal, especially with the chandelier and hair dryer. As with last issue, it's great to see the cover shot depicted within the issue itself in all of it's horror.

But Matt's discovery of her abduction seems haphazard to me. Heather's rebuke of his heroic activities (fairly typical hero drama) has Matt feeling lonely. Thus he decides to call on Natasha which, according his dialogue, he hasn't seen in 'several years'. So it's complete happenstance that he chooses to check on Natasha soon after she is kidnapped by Bullseye? I know this is comic book logic and plot but still, you'd think a maniac like Bullseye who's obsessed with DD would find another surefire way to let his foe know that he's kidnapped someone near & dear to him other than a simple picture of her adorned with his symbol (although to Miller's credit, that scene was very good).

Matt's brazenness at Josie's was fun and a little shocking. If he intended to cause a stir to uncover either Bullseye or Slaughter, what better way than to use the phrase 'stoolie' when asking questions. The fight scene was good, especially the tie-in to the boxing match on TV (fitting, no?) Turk provides good comic relief with how his injuries from last issue affect his speech.

The plot fallacy stands out to me but overall, another strong issue from this duo. Three-and-half stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 161 - To Dare the Devil



Quote:
Ben continues to dig into Matt's past. Daredevil takes on Bullseye and Slaughter's gang in order to rescue the Black Widow.


So I picked this one because of the Daredevil Annual, which I couldn't end up reading anyway because it was sold out. But oh well, hopefully this one is better.

Due 8/13
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems that this story was the first appearance of Bullseye since the one written by Jim Shooter and drawn by Gil Kane, which featured that fight in the TV studio. This issue heavily references that fight, and Bullseye's loss to Daredevil back then is his sole motivation for his quest for revenge this time around. That's fine. Bullseye is enough of a creep here to make that believable.

Miller's drawing of Bullseye on the cover isn't his best. This cover is very similar to #159, in that Daredevil is fighting with someone while falling downward.

This entire issue takes place at Coney Island, where I have never been, so I can't speak to the setting's accuracy. However, it's always a great idea to have set a climactic fight scene where there are familiar dangers and thrills to be had.

The plummeting of the Astrotower was kind of awkward, since it took up two whole pages. It would have definitely read better had it been on one page, which seems like an easy enough task to manage.

The highlight of the issue for me, and perhaps the entire three-issue story, is Daredevil cutting and running from the roller coaster when he realizes the Widow wasn't tied to the tracks. There were three pages dedicated to this, and the layout of the first two was innovative and incredibly effective. Gorgeous work from Miller here. The man was a master at drawing action flowing fluidly from panel to panel.

The Black Widow has really grown as a character in the past decade or so, which makes her role as the damsel in distress here seem awkward. Still, she proves her worth when she frees herself, and holds Bullseye's henchmen at bay so Daredevil can deal with him without distraction. Still, you have to wonder why this "Cutter" character is here to do a knife-thrower act when Bullseye is the best in the world at throwing things.

I didn't think Daredevil would have needed Turk's help to find Bullseye's location. However, the moment allows us to see Daredevil perched on the pitchfork of a devil statue. Did that actually exist on Coney Island?

The Daredevil/Bullseye fight is great, because DD seems truly furious. It seems Daredevil is able to contort his body enough so as to prevent Bullseye's blows from being fatal, but he always comes back with a salvo of his own.

Bullseye's meltdown at the issue's end seems like a bit of a cop-out, and it probably did back then too. Bullseye has a gun, and Matt is separated from his billy club. But he is so scared of Daredevil by this point that he just collapses into a cowering mess. Miller himself explained this eight issues later with a diagnosis of a brain tumour. In that issue Miller would portray the definitive Bullseye, with much less-refined speech and a more homicidal maniac vibe.

There is one page dedicated to Ben Urich's progressing investigation of Matt's link to Daredevil. I like this K.O. character. I would have liked to see him stick around at Fogwell's.

This was a good end to this three-parter. I can see why the fans were taken with Miller's style, and it seemed like he and McKenzie were meshing well. Sure, it wasn't a good use of the Widow, and the ending seemed like a cop-out at the time, but there was more good about this story than bad. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a race against the clock with Daredevil trying to rescue Black Widow. First it's a street brawl-like fight with Slaughter's men. Then it's acrobatics of Coney Island's amusement park. Frankly, it's very action-heavy, so the art shines more than the story. However, I love the moment where Daredevil seems to go to the rescue and then turns tail and runs. We're left to wonder why until we see that it's a dummy. Obviously, it's not something that would fool Matt.

The side plot is Ben Urich investigating. I'm reading an early Luke Cage story right about now with a Bugle reporter named Phil Fox. Fox ends up trying to blackmail Luke Cage (and then dies). One could easily imagine a similar fate happening to this Ben Urich character.

I said I'd comment more on the Black Widow damsel stuff this issue. While the way it was handled is still problematic, I think McKenzie redeems himself quite a bit. She's a superhero in her own right and not at all helpless. The way she responds is quite cool, even if she ultimately clears the scene for a solo fight between Bullseye and Daredevil. The actual fight is cool. There are good blows on each side. I like the psychological aspect of Daredevil, although I do wonder if it's a bit anticlimactic.

On the more technical side, we might have the first use of Miller's signature silhouette action scene where the character is drawn many times in the same panel (with lighter colors for most) to show movement. Early on, in the fight with Slaughter, it's an attempt to draw the reader with the dialogue down to the bottom before moving to the right by following the action. It sadly didn't work for me, but from a technical perspective, it's a good, creative use of art to control how the reader follows the story.

Overall, it's a good action issue. It's very much superhero stuff with a bit of a street edge. I'll go Four Stars. A step down from last week, but still fun.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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