The Spirit Of Hell’s Kitchen
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its forty-ninth choice, Daredevil Visionaries Frank Miller Volume One, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Daredevil Visionaries Frank Miller Volume One
Writers: Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller and David Michelinie
Artists: Frank Miller & Klaus Janson
The year was 1979. Marvel’s Daredevil, which started as one of the stronger books back in 1964, had settled into a rather unmemorable blandness. Its writer Roger McKenzie, who was a solid superhero scripter, had teamed up with Gene Colan on a rather perfunctory run. Everything changed with Daredevil #158. Miller had drawn horn head in two issues of Spectacular Spider-man earlier that year but it was his run on Daredevil with writer Roger McKenzie and inker Klaus Janson which got him noticed. By #165 Miller was co-plotting the series and you can see a true evolution of the character. #164, Expose, contained in here, which tells the origin of Daredevil and his tragic father, Battlin Jack Murdock, continues to be one of the high points of early 1980s Marvel. Miller was still finding his artistic feet a little here but with the assistance of inker Klaus Janson, you can see a real upward curve to his work.
Miller has always had a kinetic energy to his drawing and his Daredevil moves with grace and ease. He has also always enjoyed pushing what can be achieved on a comic page and the large panel on the second page of issue 166 shows that Miller was more than just a jobbing superhero artist. You can see future ambition here that is foreshadowed.
In terms of the story and plot, there are parallels between this and Englehart and Rogers’ Batman run. Daredevil reveals his secret identity to on off lover Heather Glenn while encountering a range of different threats, from The Hulk to Bullseye, Doctor Octopus to petty criminals like Slaughter. It was McKenzie and Miller who took Bullseye, who was introduced as a slight circus turn a few years earlier, and made him a genuinely menacing threat in the same way that Englehart and Rogers reinvented Deadshot.
Daredevil really took off when Miller took over as writer but it is important to note that none of that including Elektra, The Kingpin and The Hand would have been possible without McKenzie and Miller laying the groundwork here. Frank Miller continues to be one of the most important superhero creators of the past forty years and it really began here.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far