Classic Comic Fridays: Daredevil #181


Happy two-month anniversary to my blog! It’s been fun so far. I’ve had over 1,100 views – all showing me that people actually want to read about comics. Who knew?

As for today, every Friday, I will yank out an old comic from my personal collection and review the crap out of it. So why not do something epic?

This week, I am going to review one of the greatest Marvel stories, Daredevil #181, from April of 1982. Also, I will be bringing up the Marvel’s current Shadowland story arc. If you do not want to read spoilers, stop reading here.

Daredevil181

The story was done by legendary writer and artist Frank Miller – guilty of making Daredevil ridiculously popular, while also teaming up with Chris Claremont to create the awfully popular Wolverine limited series. One day I’ll review that here, too.

Colours, inks and some finishing art was done by Klaus Janson, arguably a great artist with little credit given to him – especially noted with his run on Daredevil here.

This double-sized issue of Daredevil features a showdown by two of Marvel’s greats – Elektra and Bullseye, with the subtitle, “One wins. One dies.” Needless to say, this story would easily draw any reader in even if it was to just look at the conclusion.

In case you haven’t heard, Elektra is the one who dies (sorry, folks). But that’s not nearly the part of the story that gets me excited. It is entirely on the build-up.

The story begins with Bullseye in jail – Daredevil having him put there. He’s suffering from headaches, requiring the guards to give him pills to stop the pain. While in jail, he pushes himself to workout and plot his revenge, and while in a courtyard, he runs into Frank Castle, the Punisher who also is in jail, and says that the Kingpin has replaced Bullseye for another assassin. Soon after, Bullseye is put on television for an interview about his murders. While having another headache, the guard gives him another pill which Bullseye promptly spits in the guards eye, allowing Bullseye to jump free, hold hostages, and eventually escape through a helicopter. Brilliant.

While off to find the hired assassin, he runs into some thugs, telling him that the assassin Elektra is hired to kill Daredevil’s lawyer partner, Foggy Nelson. Recognizing that Dardevil could possibly be Matt Murdock, he follows Elektra as she hunts for Foggy.

Elektra runs into Foggy, and shortly after, Foggy recognizes Elektra as Matt Murdock’s old girlfriend. Sensing Bullseye nearby however, she allows him to escape and waits for Bullseye to show himself.

DeathofElektra

The two begin a monumental battle with cuts and bruises on both sides. Miller’s beautiful artwork shows both combatants nearly at an equal match – each using the environment to pull of fighting moves. The colours of red and blue splash on the page with the two fighting to their death. Trapping Elektra in a corner, Bullseye pulls an ace of spades and whips it at Elektra’s neck. She fumbles, loses her sai, and is prompted by Bullseye to be stabbed in the chest. Crawling back to Murdock’s house, Elektra dies on his footsteps.

Back at the Kingpin’s, Bullseye tells the Kingpin that he has found out Matt Murdock’s secret identity. After some convincing, Bullseye is sent off to murder Murdock.

Planning the second assassination, Daredevil places a dummy Matt in the house, forcing Bullseye to be fooled about Murdock’s real identity. Daredevil appears behind Bullseye, and the two battle it out for the exciting showdown. Falling off a building, Daredevil catches Bullseye and listens to him plead for his life. Daredevil thinks otherwise and refuses to let Bullseye kill again – dropping him to his death.

Murdock goes to Elektra’s grave site to mourn, while the final page shows Bullseye in the hospital with broken bones – plotting his revenge.

When I first picked up this book, I had no idea what would actually happen. I mean, I knew that Elektra would die, but I never would have figured Daredevil for a murderer at the time. It was out of character for Daredevil – but that is what’s best about the comic. It is not a traditional story for Daredevil.

Miller’s change of attitude for Daredevil opened up doors for the character which were never explored before. The rage and revenge Daredevil had towards Bullseye overshadowed his own morals and beliefs. It truly changed the character all together.

The dark tones with sinister themes and little dialogue with the characters really pushed the story to become an iconic issue for both Daredevil and Marvel. I have to say both story and art are not separated as two individual items for they are one in the same with Miller’s work.

Oops

For me, this also is one of my first comics I’ve read where the villain was the primary character. Most of the focus was on Bullseye and part of me always wanted to see more of his sadistic self run rampant. Fortunately, I did get that much later on, thanks to the Dark Avengers. But none of that would have started had Miller not written such a brilliant story.

Grade: 10/10

Of course, the idea of Daredevil being a true hero remained the same. That is, until the Dark Reign. Norman Osborn tried to have Bullseye finally kill Daredevil once and for all, but it ended with Bullseye leveling a apartment, killing hundreds of innocent people. Snapping from allowing Bullseye to get away with so many deaths for so many years, Murdock became tied up with The Hand and in Shadowland #1, his dark side appeared. As you can see, Bullseye had what was coming to him.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

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