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DD Book Club - Watch Out For Bullseye

 
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:48 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Watch Out For Bullseye Reply with quote

This was a request and it's certainly a good request. It's almost certainly involves the best new character introduced by Marv Wolfman.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #131 - Watch Out For Bullseye - He Never Misses!



Quote:
Bullseye’s first appearance! In the debut of Marvel’s most manic marksman, Daredevil learns that his adversary’s quite the showman- and DD’s been lured into a very public battle!


Due 3/3
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because this is Bullseye's very first appearance, I am rather familiar with this issue, however, I was unfamiliar with what came before until the recent publication of Daredevil: Marvel Masterworks Volume 12. So it's interesting that this issue follows up Foggy's recent failure to get re-elected as District Attorney. Daredevil has a pleasant conversation with the new D.A., Brock Tower, but is he too good to be true? The torment of the computer engineer suggests that something is amiss. On top of that there's the talk of Jack and Robert Kennedy being alive, and this issue begins the investigation into Maxwell Glenn's nefarious business practices.

If you don't know what came before in the series, you're not going to get a lot out of those scenes. Fortunately, they don't take up that much space. However, a faithful reader back in 1976 would appreciate these scenes for providing a narrative undercurrent tying each issue together.

But, as I mentioned, this is an historic issue for one reason only -- the debut of Bullseye. He is here in his embryonic form: With opaque white eyes and his target logo coming all the way down to his eyebrows. He has cartridges around his belt, and he is unusually well-spoken; he says things like, "Is it not?" and "Alas." Obviously in a few years Frank Miller would perfect Bullseye, but there were glimmers of greatness here.

Marv Wolfman obviously took great care figuring out who Bullseye was before writing this issue. While not letting us know his civilian identity, we are told he was signed to Major League Baseball before the Vietnam War broke out, and he enlisted. He hated the Viet Cong so much that he set about exterminating them like insects. He enjoyed it, and continued killing as a mercenary in Africa after the war. Because he was so extremely confident and cocky, he told a reporter at the Bugle all about it so the general public would fear him, motivating them to pay him what he wanted in exchange for sparing their lives.

Before getting a glimpse of Bullseye, we are treated to a paper plane shattering a window. A rich man unfolds the paper, and it's a death threat from Bullseye. Of course, Bullseye is in the apartment, and while the dialogue in the scene is somewhat clumsy, Bullseye actually murders the guy in front of our eyes with the toss of a pen to the throat. That's actually surprising to me now, because it seems to me that in the 70s Daredevil was kind of a goofy light-hearted series where villains didn't actually carry out their murderous threats, but Wolfman seems to be rather serious about Bullseye.

We meet two supporting characters in this issue. The first is Lieutenant Rose, who is a hard-boiled homicide detective who doesn't have much use for Daredevil. He reminds me a lot of Harvey Bullock from Batman: The Animated Series. (Bullock debuted in comics two years before Rose.) He seems like he would be a promising supporting character for Daredevil, but he clearly didn't stick around. In a few years Detective Manolis would play a similar role with greater impact.

The other character is the reporter from the Bugle, Jake Conover. This is the only issue in which I have seen him appear, but apparently he made subsequent appearances in the Spider-Man titles. My only problem with him in this issue is that I don't know why Daredevil had to go to his office in the Bugle to hear the story rather than a rooftop or a back alley. It wouldn't be long until Roger MacKenzie would introduce Ben Urich, and Conover would vanish from Daredevil's life. It's interesting that later writers wouldn't consider making use of Rose or Conover.

While Daredevil certainly takes out the generic Rocketeers in spectacular fashion in the opening scene (I really want to see Charlie Cox swing through a getaway car and knock the driver out the other end), he is surprisingly ineffectual against Bullseye. I guess Bullseye's abilities caught him by surprise, but he lets the villain lead him around by the nose, and I would expect Daredevil to put up more resistance.

My least favourite thing about this issue is Bullseye tossing the rope at Daredevil, exclaiming, "Observe how a rope, thrown ever-so-perfectly -- can kill!" And then it doesn't kill. I, of course, don't want to see Daredevil die, but if Bullseye's aim is so infallible, then you have to at least show me what Daredevil did in order to survive the attack. I think Wolfman could have done that.

You have to give this issue respect for giving us such a great villain, even if he still had to go through a lot of development. However, much groundwork was laid here. I think Bullseye's backstory is great, and I enjoy how cocky he is. Those things would remain. I would have prefered if Daredevil had been able to land at least one blow on Bullseye in this issue, but we were denied that. We would be forced to wait.

Some of Wolfman's dialogue is awkward, and Bob Brown's artwork can often look rough and rushed, although some panels are very good. But Bullseye poses a compelling threat, and elevates this issue. I give it a four out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue starts very oddly, in media res for a story that we never see more of. I get the idea that Daredevil has a life even when we don't see him, but the idea that he tracked down an entire organization to thwart that we never saw before it a bit of a cheat, particularly since it plays no role in this story and feels like filler to get some early action going.

After that, we cut to the Storefront. To me, this is quintessential Daredevil - Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson helping people in their community. Certainly, Foggy looks relieved to be back to doing this based on the way Bob Brown draws him. I forgot to give a shout out to Klaus Janson when we did the Copperhead issue since that was apparently his first time inking on Daredevil. He's back here. I usually only notice bad inks and, even then, only when people point it out, so I have no complaints. I've always thought of Janson as having lots of menacing shadows and you can definitely see that with Bullseye, particularly around the eyes. His costume could arguably look silly (particularly with that gigantic bullseye on his head, which is larger than I normally remember it), but the shadows help quite a bit.

The Storefront itself looks oddly small and different from what it'll look like in the future, unless there was a change in design I don't recall. A lot of this story is setting up the low-level plots in the background. There's reference to the campaign commercials that I believe were in the Copperhead story that cost Foggy the election and there's the ongoing stuff with Heather Glenn's dad (which is the reason for the Storefront story). A lot of what this story is doing feels like including the lawyer/crime story trappings Daredevil should be known for. There's the legal stuff with the tenant, but there's also a grumpy cop and a reporter from the Bugle. A lot of the same stuff Miller would play with in the future (Manolis and Urich come to mind), but I would definitely argue he does so in a less perfunctory manner. The reporter in this story seems to exist to force exposition.

You might notice that I've said a lot and almost none about Bullseye. That's honestly because I don't know what to say. I think, even here, the potential of the character is there. I like that his first death is actually violent. I like that he's a legitimate threat. I like that he's seeking publicity so he can extort people more easily. On the other hand, there's a chance at any moment to cross over to silly and it takes the right writer to right the ship, so to speak. I'm personally OK with the paper plane, but there were some other moments I had doubts with. I also thought the art with DD being tied by the rope was unconvincing.

I'm very much torn on my rating. There's a lot to enjoy, but it also felt like it was juggling too many things at once so it never really got to the point. Since I'm not doing quarter ratings, I'll round up to Four Stars.
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
I also thought the art with DD being tied by the rope was unconvincing.

What I took from it was that the rope was supposed to asphyxiate Daredevil. But he survived.

By the way, Marv Wolfman had a whole bunch to say about these two issues in his forward to Daredevil: Marvel Masterworks Volume 12.
Quote:
Issues #131 and #132 introduced what is arguably my biggest and most lasting addition to the world of Daredevil: the villain Bullseye. And true to his name, Bullseye never misses.

I was trying to come up with a villain that could actually cause trouble for Daredevil. Normally DD's radar senses warned him if someone was about to attack. He would "hear" a gun being cocked. He could "sense" assassins waiting for him in the dark. In a one-on-one fistfight, he could easily sense where the next attack was coming from. This worked great as comics were always about getting hero and villain as close to each other as possible so they could both be drawn in the same panel.

But what if there were a villain who was deadly at a distance? Who could launch an attack from somewhere beyond DD's radar senses? What if he could fold a paper plane in a way that the wing could cut across DD's throat? Or he could use anything that might be available as a weapon? A pencil. A deck of cards. A trash lid. Anything.

A writer tries to create characters who challenge the hero. Who push them to work harder and harder to solve the problem confronting them. Sometimes you know the ideas you come up with work. More often than not you also know when they don't come together the way you hoped.

From the day I came up with him, I knew Bullseye was good. That's why I brought him back for a second two-part story just a few months later. But as much as I loved the character and am thrilled that I created him, Bullseye's best days were still a few years away when writer/artist Frank Miller turned a really good character into a really great one.

Still, these two issues were his first appearance, and I'm very happy to have come up with someone who's been so important to Daredevil, and to Marvel.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I think that's absolutely right. Bullseye, to me, doesn't work in some broader ying/yang thematic way like Kingpin, but he's such a core Daredevil villain just because his abilities challenge and complement Daredevil so well.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to give a head's up, I'm going to be out of town this weekend. I don't think there should be any issues posting the next issue, but, if there's a delay, that's why.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Getting this in a touch early

Daredevil Vol. 1 #132 - Bullseye Rules Supreme!



Quote:
A big tent battle between Bullseye and Daredevil! DD’s locked in combat in the center ring of a circus…and hundreds of spectators are getting the smackdown of a show! But the Man Without Fear isn’t without a few tricks of his own.


Due 3/10
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue begins under the big top, where Bullseye has planned his battle against Daredevil with the aim of gaining publicity, "so tomorrow when I again demand money for a life -- no one will dare refuse me." It seems that Wolfman planned that to be Bullseye's modus operandi -- threatening rich people's lives but agreeing to spare them if they pay him. Money would continue to play a role in Bullseye's life. Soon he would simply sell his services to ganglords like Eric Slaughter and Wilson Fisk, and that honestly sounds like an easier life.

The cover is somewhat laughable, with Bullseye shooting himself out of a cannon at Daredevil. At least that doesn't happen in the issue itself, although a human cannonball does make an appearance.

One thing this issue does well is explain how Daredevil is able to dodge the attacks of someone with infallible aim. As our hero muses:
Quote:
Only my radar senses help me to dodge his missiles. A normal man could never hope to calculate their trajectory in time -- let alone move fast enough to avoid them. Though, how long I can keep it up is an entirely different matter.

It was also good to show Bullseye getting the better of Daredevil by snagging his foot with the whip. What was less exciting was the part with the elephant. If you have a villain like Bullseye who specializes in long-range attacks, how does steering an elephant to trample Daredevil fit in to that? It didn't seem to belong, and I didn't for one second think that an elephant was quick enough to trample Daredevil, even if he had an injured shoulder.

As for the human cannonball, did he just wake up from a coma? How was he not aware of what was going on around him? Why was he in the cannon if the net wasn't set up? Does he live in there? It just poses too many questions! The only thing that was good about it is that Daredevil had to sacrifice his well-being to save this idiot's life, and he was skilled enough to do so without hurting himself more than necessary

I had to look up "rosin" on Google. This is the definition:
Quote:
resin, especially the solid amber residue obtained after the distillation of crude turpentine oleoresin, or of naphtha extract from pine stumps. It is used in adhesives, varnishes, and inks and for treating the bows of stringed instruments.

I don't know much about Daredevil's gloves, but I imagine that stuff would be extremely difficult to wipe off. Perhaps he got enough of it off to keep pursuing Bullseye. It's just questionable.

Heather is a weak female character. She just is. She seems to exist as someone with whom Matt can engage in physical relations, and not much more. She shows no self-respect, referring to herself as "dippy" and "scatter-brained." She doesn't challenge Matt to grow as a person. Case in point, she knows he's not telling her the truth, but then backs off and pretty much says he doesn't have to tell her the truth because she was coming off as the "nagging wife."

Another thing: Matt failed to stop Bullseye at the circus, and he knows he's still on the loose. Why would he let Heather convince him to take her out to dinner? That was just weird. It didn't seem like Matt. I was reading this thinking to myself, "You're going out to dinner?!"

I also didn't like the way Wolfman and Brown staged the final battle. Bullseye fires his sonic gun, and instead of showing Matt recognize the noise at that same moment, we are shown Matt recognizing it THREE PAGES LATER! I think we could have cut between the two locations in a more effective way.

The final battle between Daredevil and Bullseye was fine, but it seemed like there weren't enough pages left, so it came off as rushed.

Obviously Bullseye has proven himself to be one of the all-time great villains, but I think this, the second half of his debut two-parter, should have been a much better issue. There are many contrivances, and too many obvious ways that things could have been better handled. This feels tossed off. Sadly, I can't give this a high mark. 2.5 out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for the big delay. Turns out busy vacations don't mix well with reading and reviewing comics. I'm sure people are playing the world's smallest violin just for me right now Wink

The story opens with the thesis of what's interesting about the Bullseye/Daredevil dynamic (at least at this early stage) - it's Bullseye's infallible aim versus Dardevil's uncanny acrobatics. Essentially, can Daredevil dodge the projectiles of the man who never misses? Also, the idea of Bullseye wanting to add to his reputation is very much here. He's winning fairly easily, but sabotaging his success by giving DD another chance. On the other hand, it comes off as plausible that he needs to make it look like a convincing fight. Of all the times bad guys do this, this one I buy a bit more.

Each hit DD takes hurts his left shoulder more and more (side note: props to stories that remember he's a southpaw). You can sort of see Wolfman having fun using the various things from a circus against DD, even if things like cannons and Elephants don't really fit the category of thrown household objects. Unfortunately, things sort of seem to fall apart as Wolfman needs to remove Bullseye from the scene and set up the B-plot. It just happens suddenly for no reason. Fortunately, the B-Plot was short-lived (and I don't mind it at all), so the awkwardness of the quick ending is forgiven when we have a good second battle. One of the interesting things Wolfman does with Bullseye is he has him fight the way superheroes do. He "rolls with the punches" to dodge injury and he moves quickly to do what he needs to do. By doing this, he forces Matt to mature as a hero and stop the witty banter in order to save the day. Even the sudden ending to the story without any wind down makes sense. There's no sense of achievement, just relief that it's over.

On the art department, I like image of the elephant charging at DD. Obviously, the pink-shaded Daredevil flipping away is something we'd see in later days. I don't know if that was suggested by Bob Brown or Marv Wolfman, but I feel fine giving credit to Marv's wife Michele, who was the colorist at the time. In fact, I feel Marv Wolfman undercuts the art with the dialogue. The figure is moving right to left, but the thought balloons are moving left to right, making it confusing for the eye to follow.

I think the first half was weak and the ending was a bit quick, but I liked Bullseye a lot here. It's easy to see why he was such a threat.

Dimetre wrote:

I had to look up "rosin" on Google. This is the definition:
Quote:
resin, especially the solid amber residue obtained after the distillation of crude turpentine oleoresin, or of naphtha extract from pine stumps. It is used in adhesives, varnishes, and inks and for treating the bows of stringed instruments.

I don't know much about Daredevil's gloves, but I imagine that stuff would be extremely difficult to wipe off. Perhaps he got enough of it off to keep pursuing Bullseye. It's just questionable.


It's the stuff that bowlers and baseball players use to help their grip. I've always thought of it almost as a chalk. I've never had it thrown in my face, but it doesn't seem like it would be overly difficult to get off to me.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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