Sunday, April 3, 2011

Enter... Bullseye!

Daredevil #131 (March 1976)
"Watch Out for Bullseye, He Never Misses!"
Marv Wolfman-Bob Brown/Klaus Janson

Doug: I figure since we spotlighted Frank Miller a few days ago, we might as well make an effort to get a little more Daredevil here on the BAB! Who could have known back at the beginning of the bicentennial that Bullseye would go on to become one of Daredevil's most important foes? Coming to this story for the first time as a 9 1/2 year old, I was just wide-eyed with the thought that a guy could throw anything -- anything -- and be so accurate with it. So when I read Daredevil #131, I was pretty tuned in to this new bad guy.

Doug: The story opens up innocuous enough. DD has rounded up the Rocketeers, a gang of bank robbers in matching suits and with a suped-up getaway car. Why New York's Finest couldn't have taken these bozos down is a mystery to me, because they didn't seem particularly menacing. Shoot, DD took them down in only 2 1/2 pages by himself. And that easy victory earned him an audience with another guy who'd just tasted victory -- the new district attorney, Blake Tower. Tower, who had defeated the incumbent, Foggy Nelson, tells DD how grateful that he is to have heroes like DD helping out. This is quite a departure from what we'd see in a Spidey mag around the same time. We then cut to The Storefront Legal Services, where Nelson and Matt Murdock have set up shop in an altruistic venture to help the down-trodden.
In fact, Matt's about to take on a case against a slum lord. As he leaves to meet other tenants, we get our next scene change.

Doug: There's a brief interlude of a scientist-type chained to some sort of control panel. We learn that Foggy's campaign was apparently derailed by some commercials that swung the election to Tower. After the guy complains, he gets a very large fist upside the noggin. Could it be the Kingpin? We'll have to wait. We then see an executive in his highrise office, and a paper airplane floating on the winds. Suddenly the plane penetrates one of the windows (say what?) and lands on a plant beside the man's desk. Unfolding the plane, he is alarmed at a note demanding $100,000, or his life! Man, how times have changed! One hundred grand on a ransom note? Shoot, that would be $10 million today! Before the guy can do much more than complain, he is joined in the room by Bullseye, who draws a pen from the desk caddy. Asking only if the money is in the office, at the denial he whips the pen straight at our doomed executive's throat. End of scene.

Doug: While at the tenement, Matt is listening to the testimonies of some of the residents when he catches a radio broadcast about some strange goings-on in a murder investigation. Leaving quickly, he dons the devil-suit and heads to the address they'd mentioned.
Alighting on the window ledge outside the office, he picks up on the police conversation. I know it became cliche', but I always liked those panels that show us what things would look like to DD -- heat patterns, pulse rates, outlines, etc. That helped me to become a part of his situation, to a degree. DD decides to enter the office and is confronted by the very gruff Lt. Bert Rose (interestingly, if you go all the way back to DD #1, it's been said that Rose made his 1st appearance investigating the death of Battlin' Murdock - this is his 2nd appearance). DD states what is basically the obvious, and I'll be honest -- he is really condescending toward the cops. Rose lets him know how he feels about the longjohn crowd. Before leaving, DD is stopped by the Bugle's Jacob Conover, who asks DD to stop by his desk at the paper.

Doug: Once at the Daily Bugle, DD hears Conover relate an origin for the murderer -- the man called Bullseye. While we never learn his name, we do find out that he was a soldier in Vietnam, and a master of aiming and throwing.
In fact, Conover knows that the guy had a major league baseball contract prior to his service. Conover continued to stress that "war changes people", and it changed this guy. Daredevil thanks him for the information, and leaves. It's only a short time later, however, when a hand grenade is thrown right in front of DD's momentum, and explodes!

Doug: Finding his wits, DD is able to launch his billy club's line in order to break his fall. Landing, he comes face-to-face with Bullseye, who issues a challenge. DD lunges forward, only to be met with a face full of garbage from some cans Bullseye kicks at him. Now with the upper hand, Bullseye announces that he is going to leave, but at a pace where he can be easily followed. DD is encouraged to take the bait. We get one more scene change back to The Storefront, where of course Foggy and Heather Glenn are fretting about Matt's absence. Foggy tells Heather that he wants information on Glenn Industries, when Heather tells him that the company is owned by her father! More to follow.

Doug: DD follows Bullseye to some sort of arena, where he is informed that despite a large police presence, Bullseye has agents with machine guns scattered throughout the crowd with orders to kill civilians. DD basically stands by, bewildered, as his senses become overwhelmed by all of the heartbeats, breathing, and other background noise.
Figuring he'd better strike preemptively, Daredevil moves on Bullseye, only to be horse-collared by a heavy rope. AS DD is stopped cold, Bullseye orders the house lights be brought up and Daredevil and the reader find out that Bullseye is going to kill DD under the Big Top -- they are at a circus in Madison Square Garden!

Doug: This is one I bought off the shelf back when, and I have to say it reads pretty much as it did then. Marv Wolfman spins a decent story -- I'm not sure we get the amount of characterization you'd find in a Gerry Conway Spider-Man yarn, but it's decent enough. This story wouldn't be the best jumping-on point for new readers, but it's fine as DD stories go. The art by Bob Brown and Klaus Janson is really good -- there are some great faces in this story. Some of the issues that we've seen from Brown in the Avengers reviews we've done simply aren't here. I'd add that Bullseye looked better once Frank Miller got ahold of him, but for the first time out it's OK. Be back next Sunday for the conclusion! Oh, hey -- one more thing: I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the book when I took it out of the bag. The interior pages were really white, and although the back cover was a little dirty from the years before I had bags/boards, this was a darn good-looking key issue! I got to the letters page and the Marvel Value Stamp (series 2) was still there... Yes! All was swell in collectorland until I got to the checklist and darned if little Doug hadn't taken a black marker and made note of the December comics he already owned. Doh!!


Fred W. Hill said...

Funny that it took about 10 years for anyone to come up with Daredevil's own great villain, although it would take Miller's handling to really make Bullseye a significant foe. Even the Owl and the Gladiator seemed like B-listers rather than serious contenders for a Super Villains Hall of Fame. Of course, it was also Miller who transformed the Kingpin from a great Spider-Man baddie into Daredevil's number one nemesis. Wolfman, Brown & Janson did some very good work in this ish. When I first read it, right off as a 13 year old all those years ago, I thought it was a bit silly having a paper plane go through a window pane (actually, I still don't think that's plausible, but, heck, this is comics, after all). However, this was a decent enough debut for the murderous Bullseye, and there were plenty of intriguing subplots and personal elements going on to keep me interested.

dbutler16 said...

As far as the panel showing things from DD's perspective, it may have become cliche, but for someone new to comics, or to DD, it would be very helpful. Plus, it's cool!

david_b said...

I really liked Bob Brown taking over for Heck around this era.. Heck was passable for DD&BW, but Brown really introduced a more brooding DD, making the transition to Miller a more streamlined development.

(Funny how Brown took over for Heck as well on the Avengers around the same period..)

I found this a great turn for DD, because a lot of readers were starting to complain that the Marvel heroes were becoming to 'white-bread' in nature, much in accord with the complaints about Doctor Strange becoming 'too much' of a generic superhero while he was leading the Defenders, a bland change from his early Ditko days.

I'll have to pick these issues up. My interest faded when Natasha left, but I'll have to pick some of these up, just for the nice Brown art if nothing else.

Doug said...

I no longer have very many of my Daredevils, but had a pretty nice run in this era (speaking mainly of the issues that came about a year or so before the Bullseye 2-parter) and recall them fondly. I would like to go back and get the Essentials when the Widow was in the book, but I'll be honest -- the Heck art is really off-putting, and to look at some of the covers from that period with the lame-baddie-of-the-month, I almost dread reading them!


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