Comic Review – Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Volume 1

The upcoming Daredevil movie is loosely based on some of Frank Miller’s work. I came across his first run of the title, so I picked it up to see what we can expect come February. Click through to read my thoughts or share your own.

General Information

Title: Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Volume 1
Author: Mostly Roger McKenzie, with assists from Frank Miller and Klaus
Jansen. The final issue was written by David Michelinie.
Illustrator(s): Frank Miller on pencils, and Klaus Jansen on inks.
Original Publication Date: 1979, 1980
ISBN: 0-7851-0757-6
Cover Price: $17.95US, $28.75Can
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This is a collection of the first nine issues of Daredevil
pencilled by Frank Miller.

The Issues

The issue numbers and storylines are:
Issue 158: The final issue in an arc about Death-Stalker.
Issues 159-161: Bullseye returns
Issue 163: The second part of the Hulk’s visit to New York. (The
first part had a fill-in artist, and was not included here.)
Issue 164: Ben Urich and Daredevil talk in a hospital room.
Issue 165: Doctor Octopus comes in.
Issue 166: The Gladiator returns.
Issue 167: The Mauler is introduced.

High Point

Frank Miller knows how to draw Daredevil in motion. He may swing
through the city, but he doesn’t look a thing like Spider-Man when he
does it. Miller really conveys a sleek, streamlined feel to the way
he moves, giving it a very fluid look.

Low Point

As with X-Men Visionaries:
Neal Adams
, there are gaps in the story because of the fill-in

The Scores

The Roger McKenzie/Frank Miller collaborations here were different
from other Marvel stuff I’ve read from this era, and certainly
different from most Marvel stuff in the past. It’s dark, moody, and
human, which gives it a very original feel. (I can really
see why Frank Miller was so well suited for Batman.) The last issue,
unfortunately, did not fit that mold. It’s light and campy, and felt
a lot like the Marvel stuff from ten years earlier. Still, despite
the original mood in the early issues, all of the villains were past
villains coming back for another stab at it, save the last one. I
give it 3 out of 6.

The artwork is certainly the high point of the collection.
It’s clear, detailed, well paced, and fluid. My only complaint was
that there are occasional panels where DD’s suit is black everywhere
but the belt, gloves, boots, and chest logo. That bothered me every
time, as there’s no way light and shading could do that, so it’s
obviously an artist’s trick rather than an image of that world. Those
few panels aren’t enough to fault the artwork in general, though. I
give it 6 out of 6.

The stories were well paced, and mostly well plotted. The
one-shot stories were, with the exception of issue 164, too rushed for
my tastes. There wasn’t really any time to develop anything. Issue
164 focussed on a single conversation, so it worked, but the issues
after it often had two story threads going on at a time and didn’t
have time to do either properly. I give the story 4 out of 6.

The characterization was uneven. The stars, namely
Daredevil, Foggy Nelson, Ben Urich, Black Widow, and Heather Glen,
were well defined and multi-dimensional. The villains, on the other
hand, were bland charicatures of people with little or no real depth
or motivation. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response produced by this collection was
unimpressive. The collection starts in a story arc with all of the
principals already in jeopardy. There’s no reason to care for them
yet. The “Foggy Nelson finally gets married!” banner would have
worked better if we even knew that Foggy was in a serious relationship
at that point. (There was one comment that he’s the man a woman
loves in the first issue here, but there’s no indication about how he
feels toward her before the wedding.) The “Daredevil and Punisher!”
promo for the last issue was a let-down, since the Punisher did not
actually appear in that issue. (My old Marvel trading cards say their
first encounter was in Daredevil 181, 14 issues after the last issue
here.) I got the impression that this set would have been very
rewarding for long-time readers, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark for
the newbies like myself. I give it 3 out of 6.

The flow felt like a Spider-Man comic. How much talking can
someone do in the time it takes a billy club to move ten feet through
the air? The writers here seem to think it’s quite a bit. The action
moves very smoothly from panel to panel. Without dialogue, I’d give
the flow a 6, but the dialogue is so crammed, I can only give it a 4
out of 6.

Overall, this is a great collection for Daredevil
fans, but may not be particularly impressive for those of us who are
new to the title, just because it’s really more of a culmination of
events than a complete story. I’m not sure that’d I’d recommend this
to someone who wants to learn about Daredevil before the movie comes
out. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Volume 1
receives 28 out of 42.