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‘Daredevil Vol. 1’: a comics review

Daredevil vol. 1 collects the beginning of Frank Miller’s run as artist and later on as writer for Daredevil. Miller’s time working on Daredevil would transform the character from a supporting Marvel character to one of its more important. This is a fairly large collection of material so I want to add Miller’s first contributions without the introduction. With that, let’s look at Miller’s beginnings with the Man Without Fear!

Writing:

Initially Miller served as only artist for the series, not starting his writing role until Issue #168 (the collection finishes with Issue #172), with Roger McKenzie serving as writer before then. The first several stories have the strong influence of the Silver Age of comics. Dialogue, and the vast amounts of thought bubbles, can be overwhelming, even when Miller starts writing, but that’s to be expected given that was the standard for comic writing at the time. While McKenzie isn’t the best story teller he helped some of the plots that Miller uses when he begins his term as writer.

With the introduction of Miller as writer he immediately begins to add important elements into Daredevil’s world. In his first issue as writer he introduces Elektra as an antagonist to Daredevil, who he would later use to redefine the character. Towards the end of the collection he brings in the Kingpin, who had previously been a Spider-Man villain (speaking of which, Dr. Octopus is villain in one issue), but begins to become a central antagonist for Daredevil. One of the best elements that spans both McKenzie and Miller’s time as writer is the villain Bullseye, who is always interesting. The highlight of his characterization being an issue where he believes everyone is dressed as Daredevil (P.S. he’s mentally unstable).

Art:

The art is progressively stable through the whole collection. While the earlier issues feel very stuck in the standard of late ’70s Marvel comic art, the later issues are ahead of their time. The standard art of the earlier issues is most likely a result that Miller who was co-penciling with other artists before given free reign. Miller’s art is excellent for the time it was being drawn, and for the most part, holds up well to this day, especially when compared to other artists at the time. It’d be nice to see some panels without dialogue, thought bubbles, or narration, but that’s more a fault of the style of writing at the time than the design of the issues.

Final Opinion:

The beginnings of Miller’s run at Daredevil are quite good for the time, same for today. It’s especially strong also given that there wasn’t anything as good at the time, sans Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men, but even that took quite some time before it got really good. Miller’s art is also a benefit towards its success. Issues collected at the front of the collection were published less frequently than the average comic, since Daredevil was a supporting character, but by Issue #171 it had been published monthly. An obvious testament to the already profound impact Miller had on the series. I recommend this to fans of the more ‘vigilante-ish heroes’ or those who like more crime based superhero stories. Daredevil is nowhere near as bad as the film makes us believe. I liked this more than I thought I would, and I hear it’s the worst of the three collections. In the future those later collections will also be reviewed.

Daredevil is owned by Marvel Comics. Robert McKenzie serves as writer from Issue #158-167 with Frank Miller writing Issues #168-172. Frank Miller serves as penciler through the entire collection

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