Sunday, April 10, 2011
Paying An Assassin Not to Kill...
Daredevil #132 (April 1976)
"Bullseye Rules Supreme!"
Marv Wolfman-Bob Brown/Klaus Janson
Doug: Today we'll conclude our look at the intro. and origin of one of Daredevil's most notorious rogues. Bullseye burst on the scene in this two-issue tale from the early months of 1976. It's funny to think that this all occurred over two years before Frank Miller would take Bullseye to the status he'd eventually achieve as DD's most dangerous foe -- after the Kingpin, that is. So buckle in, kiddies --
Doug: When we left off last week, Daredevil had followed Bullseye to a circus at Madison Square Garden. DD had learned in a conversation with the Daily Bugle's Jake Conover that Bullseye was a Vietnam vet with an uncanny ability to make anything a deadly-aimed projectile. Conover also revealed that Bullseye wanted to get his name out there, and use fear as a means to make a lot of cash. An assassin who would be paid not to kill, that's what Bullseye fancied himself. So it was to MSG that Bullseye brought Daredevil, that he might kill this champion in front of thousands of people in an effort to solidify his name and his menace to society. The battle at the beginning of the story is everything you'd expect from these two adversaries in a circus setting -- juggling pins, high wires, whips, animal cages, stampeding elephants, a human cannonball -- you name it, it was part of the story. And throughout this scene the art was spectacular. I said last issue that Bob Brown under the influence of Klaus Janson was magical. I'll stand by that today.
Doug: In the course of the battle DD injured his left shoulder in a fall. Not wanting to let on, he toughed his way through it, but was always a step slow. Consequently, Bullseye wreaked havoc again and again. The key to the fight was DD being hit in the face with a rosin bag, which took his breath away. Bullseye also used a gun in this story, something I don't think we ever saw from him again (please correct me if I'm wrong -- I've long ago sold almost all of my Daredevils!). It was not, however, a normal gun but one that instead used sonic waves to generate different types of force. To end the battle at the circus, Bullseye used the gun to generate steam from the vat the divers used in their high wire act.
Doug: Back at The Storefront, Foggy and Heather continue to worry about Matt. Foggy relates some history about Matt in a nice bit of characterization of both men. I criticized scribe Wolfman last issue for telling a good but pretty straightforward story. This time around he gives us a little more depth. At the circus, DD is licking his wounds when Lt. Bert Rose (we met him last issue) shows up for the investigation. And he just rips Daredevil. DD gives it right back, and tells Rose that guys like himself are infinitely more qualified to deal with guys like Bullseye. DD gives some big ups to the NYPD, but in the realm of super-baddies, Hornhead says he has special abilities that make him more qualified. DD eventually gets away and heads home, to find Heather beside herself awaiting him. They do dinner, and Matt of course has to cut out early upon hearing the sonic build-up of Bullseye's gun nearby.
Doug: An attention-hound, Bullseye was after another rich dude with the same offer he'd made the previous issue -- to a fellow he killed: Pay $100,000 in cash or die. This time Bullseye ordered a Mr. Henry Foster to pay up. But, when Foster asked for 24 hours to raise the funds, Bullseye agreed. He offered one condition, though -- call the police and die. As Bullseye took his leave, Foster of course dialed the NYPD and Bullseye returned to attack. But it's at this point that Daredevil arrived. A fighting mad Daredevil. Basically the Fosters' apartment got trashed, as swords, glass coffee tables, umbrellas, fountain pens, and plain old fists were all the weapons of choice. But in close confines and with the ferocity of DD's assault after the circus embarrassment, Bullseye never had a chance. As a parting shot, DD told the Fosters to request that Lt. Rose come up for a special gift.
Doug: As a two-issue story, this was basically a fun little Bronze Age yarn. Not great, but probably pretty typical of what was going on in Daredevil over the space of a couple of years. Never one of Marvel's top-tier titles, DD sort of meandered along in the middle of the pack. And I think this story is indicative of that -- not surprising, but just sort of comfortable. I got what I thought I'd get; nothing wrong with that.