Sunday, February 8, 2015

Comics Rant: Daredevil #169


Writing and Art by: Frank Miller
Inks by: Klaus Janson


     This issue opens up with a night time talk show episode with an interview featuring none other than our favorite blind lawyer, Matt Murdock! But this wouldn't be a good comic book if it weren't interrupted by something and mid way through the intro to the interview, the broadcast cuts off to show a breaking news story. The dreaded assassin Bullseye has broken out of a hospital as he was about to receive surgery and by the time the show comes back on the air, Matt has already slipped into the shadows and gone to the location of the break out. He finds the lieutenant of police there who fills Daredevil in. Apparently, Bullseye held with breath during the laughing gas that was supposed to put him to sleep and grabbed a knife and the rest is typical Bullseye. As we know, anything in his hands is considered a weapon. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city we catch up with an escaped Bullseye and we learn that he truly has gone completely and totally insane. He's trying not to scream in the streets of New York as every single person in the city, to him, is dressed as Daredevil. Daredevil street vendors. Daredevil shopping families. Daredevil homeless people. In about 5 seconds Bullseye snaps and starts attacking the "Daredevil's", even killing one man. He needs to keep on the move now, and with that, needs to come new threads. He goes into a local tailor's shop and gets his classic suit remade, probably made of velvet if the tailor had any say in it, and more than likely killing the man after his services. Bullseye is now prepared to kill every single last Daredevil in the city until they're all gone.

     We eventually learn that the reason Bullseye is so crazy is because he has a brain tumor. Its causing massive headaches and hallucinations. He even had an emotional breakdown the last time we saw him in Daredevil #161, which is now clear to Matt. Whenever he gets the massive headaches is when he begins to see multiple Daredevil's and if he isn't brought in and helped as soon as possible, he will die. According to Daredevil, every death is a loss, good or bad and it isn't up to any of them who lives and dies. They need to help this man. It isn't long before a hiding Bullseye starts having another episode. He tries to hide in a movie theater but starts having a panic attack in the theater. That's when some chump tries to pipe him down and Bullseye reacts like it was Daredevil, starting a huge fight. Meanwhile, the actual Daredevil follows the chaos and is able to get to the theater just in time to see Bullseye beat the crap out of the last civilian. He thinks Matt is just another Daredevil, now knowing that he's THE Daredevil! This whole time in the theater there's a couple sitting in front row who have no knowledge of the fight and are constantly talking throughout the movie. It provides comedic relief while describing the tone of Miller's entire book. A dark, violent detective book. Catching that bit makes me more excited to finish his work on this book. But, I digress. Bullseye is able to get his hands on the man in the front row and threatens Daredevil to stand down and let Bullseye kill him or he'll take the man's life. Naturally, Matt drops the bully club and Bullseye launches a knife into his shoulder. The devil falls and all goes black.

     While all this is going on, another dark figure makes their way across the city to Matt Murdock's apartment. His former lover, Elektra. She's not even sure why she came. Maybe because the devil stole her bounty last issue. Maybe it was for love. For whatever reason it was, she escapes as soon as she hears Matt's current girlfriend, Heather wake up and come into the living room. The police arrive at the movie theater to find Daredevil still alive, he apparently blocked most of the knife with his hand, but is still cut open a bit. Bullseye made his escape, hiding out at the apartment of the chatty couple from the theater. This next part is where Daredevil truly shows off his cunning detective skills and super senses. The kidnapped man dropped his prescription lozenges and Matt can read the label by simply touching it. He sees that the man needs to take 12 daily, meaning he must have a very serious throat condition. Not only that, but he knows Bullseye is a regular smoker of cigarettes. Matt's going to have to be able to sort through all the noise in the city to find one single reoccurring cough and follow it to where Bullseye is hiding. Now if that ain't some impressive shit, I don't know what is! The city is loud tonight, but the devil can shut it all out with extreme concentration. Car tires, horns, radios all shut off. Followed by more household noises like tv's, tea pots and even alarm clocks. The sounds getting smaller and smaller and Daredevil can now hear water dripping, curtains flapping and finally...a cough. Back at the apartment, the man's coughing gets on Bullseye's nerves and he begins to have another attack. He thinks the two have become Daredevil and is about to strike when just at the last second, the REAL Daredevil comes breaking in to save them!

     The fight is intense to say the least. Bullseye escapes the apartment and runs into the subway, a place Matt would be crazy to follow him. But Matt is just that tonight, crazy. He continues the chase underground and that's where things go south for him. The smells, the sounds especially, mess everything up for Daredevil. He starts swinging wildly hoping to catch Bullseye by luck, but fails. Bullseye beats the unholy crap out of the devil and finally pins him down and gets a good grasp on his neck. Matt can feel the bones at the base of his neck grinding, he knows he's close to the end. But with one small boost of willpower, Daredevil manages to thrust upward, slamming himself and more importantly Bullseye into a pole. As long as Matt can touch Bullsye and hold onto him, he can find him and hit him. Again. And again. Eventually, he knocks Bullseye out cold. The fight is won but not over. His hands begin shaking, but its not his hands, its the tracks they're standing on. Daredevil makes his way to the side out of harms way and leaves Bullseye on the tracks. There's nothing he can do, his radar isn't working and can't tell how far away the train is. He knows Bullseye will just kill again, but today that is not his call. Not knowing where the train is, Daredevil still steps back onto the tracks and pulls Bullseye away at the last possible second.

    Back at the hospital, Daredevil tries to explain his actions to the lieutenant, saying that its up to society to punish criminals, because that is the system that was put into place. He could not make that call tonight because he is neither God, nor the law. Bullseye won't go to jail most likely, because he'll hire a lawyer and plead that the tumor was what caused him to go crazy and kill. But with this surgery he's finally getting, he'll be cured and go free. The Lieutenant lets Daredevil know that if Bullseye goes free and kills again, which he believes will happen, it'll be on Daredevil's conscience. Without answering, he turns and walks away, praying that he made the right call, unlike Russel Wilson. In the background, the devil can hear the surgeon say the surgery was a success and the patient will live.


    Wow, talk about an intense issue. I should've seen this coming, its what Frank Miller is all about. Dark, deep, engaging story telling. I can barely put this book down, and that's saying a lot from someone like me who normally doesn't enjoy reading older books. Fear not, however, there's still a lot of Miller goodness left in the Visionaries Trade Back collection. Just in time for that new Daredevil tv show coming to Netflix! Be sure to go check out the trailer for it which hit recently. (And no, don't worry, I didn't get paid to plug that, I'm just genuinely excited!) Until next time!


-Matt Milanes

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