Sunday, March 4, 2012

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2

Written by Frank Miller
Art by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

Was Daredevil ever better than it was when Frank Miller was involved with it?  It had been years since I had read the Daredevil/Elektra story, so when a local retailer I pop into from time to time was giving away books with a purchase, I thought this would be a nice selection.

This is the second volume of the Daredevil Visionaries series, featuring Frank Miller's seminal work with this character. It includes issues 168-182.  To give some perspective, that runs from Elektra's first appearance to the issue immediately after her death.  During that time, Daredevil has numerous run-ins with his ex-girlfriend turned ninja assassin, as well as the person who eventually kills her, Bullseye.  As well, the Kingpin comes out of retirement, his wife Vanessa becomes a crazy bag lady, and Ben Urich becomes a decent character.

So much was done in these fifteen issues that is still being echoed in contemporary comics today.  I thought I had a complete run of these issues, and was surprised to learn that there were some stories included here that I'd never read before.  I was six when the first of these comics came out, and so had gathered them up rather randomly, after Miller returned to the comic for the Born Again story, blew my mind, and caused me to go on a bit of a Daredevil buying spree.

Looking at these stories again after such a long time, there are a few things that really jumped out at me.  The first is Miller's unorthodox approach to layout.  Most of these comics consist of long thin panels that stretch all the way across the page, making it a forerunner to the 'widescreen' look of the early 00's, or which, at other times, extend vertically, helping bring home a strong sense of New York City's landscape.

Reading through these comics was a great thrill.  I think issue 172 may have been the first Daredevil comic I ever read.  That's the one where Bullseye kills a fly with a rubber band and a paper clip, a moment which forever cemented itself as one of the coolest things I'd ever seen in a comic.  It's nice to see Bullseye as he was, before the strange logic of movie tie-ins caused him to have a target carved into his head.

Another thing which struck me was how little was done to establish the relationship between Daredevil and Elektra.  When I first read this book, her death was shocking, but now, after having seen so many similar scenes played out, I found that I didn't really feel the depth of these characters' feelings for one another.

Still, these are classic comics, and reading this reminds me that I don't dig back into the piles of boxes I've amassed often enough to visit old friends.

No comments: