Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller A Marvel Comic Book Review of the Complete Elektra Saga!
Frank Miller: Elevating Daredevil to Greatness!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 collects issues 168-182 of the original Daredevil series. Issue 168 was the first comic of the series that Miller both wrote and drew. More importantly the issue introduced Elektra, the ninja assassin who had once been Daredevil's girlfriend. The 15 issues in this volume contain her first full saga, making it a very satisfying collection.
Miller Tells the Story of Elektra, the Ninja Assassin!
Introducing Gritty Storytelling to Daredevil
Daredevil was a second-tier character being published bimonthly when Frank Miller began to attract attention to the comic after becoming the artist on issue No. 158. When he took as writer as well with No. 168 the series just exploded.
Right off the bat he introduced Elektra, the ninja assassin who had once been Daredevil's lover. The first issue of this collection sets the tone and pace for the entire volume. There's gritty street violence, gangsters, ninjas, acrobatic fighting, death and a sense that not all is good with this world.
Elektra would become increasing important over the next 14 issues and beyond, but the highlight of her original saga is issue No. 181, which contains one of the most gripping fight scenes I've ever read. This volume collects the story that changed Daredevil to one of Marvel Comics' most popular superheroes.
The illustration to the right is from issue 176, included in this volume.
Buy Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 on Amazon
Elektra, The World's Most Lethal Woman
Frank MIller's Greatest Creation
Elektra is introduced in issue No. 168 when she breaks up a fight Daredevil is having with some low-level criminals, knocking him out with a well-placed sai. But he hears her voice and is taken back to his college days when alter ego Matt Murdock meets her and falls in love. Her father is killed, and she runs away, resurfacing all these years later as a mercenary and assassin.
It's a great introduction, and from the start Elektra is captivating.
Over the next 13 issues she'll resurface, helping Daredevil on occasion and replacing Bullseye as the Kingpin's main hitman. That provokes Bullseye to break out of prison, and the confrontation between Bullseye and Elektra in issue No. 181 is just plain stunning. It's as powerful today as it was 30 years ago when I first read it.
The final issue in this collection has Daredevil trying to cope with the events of issue No. 181, and has more depth than almost any comic book that came out at the time. It ratcheted up the emotional impact of everything that happened to Daredevil since Miller took over, and set the stage for following storylines dealing with his emotional psyche. This is storytelling at its finest.
The illustration is from this collection, showing the cover of Daredevil 168 complete with the misspelling of Elektra's name!
Should Elektra Have Been Revived? - Did That Ruin The Drama of Issue 181?
The fifteen issues from the debut of Elektra to the effect her death has on Daredevil in the days following her murder was one of the most powerful sagas I can remember reading in comics at that time. It was more powerful than the death of the Phoenix in the X-Men, because Jean Grey committed suicide while Elektra was murdered! Though Elektra's death originally was supposed to be final, she underwent a resurrection like many other supposedly ''dead'' comic characters do (including Jean Grey!). Do you think Elektra should have been revived?
Do you think Elektra should have been revived?
Bullseye and the Kingpin
Reinventing Two Mediocre Bad Guys
Both Bullseye and the Kingpin existed in the Marvel Universe before Frank Miller reinvented the characters in his run on Daredevil. I remember when Bullseye first appeared in Daredevil No. 131 and thought he could be kind of cool, but his first few appearances really weren't anything special.
When Roger McKenzie reintroduced him in issue No. 159 (with art by Miller) the character became more complicated but still very much a secondary one. Only with issue No. 169 did Bullseye really start to become the deadly villain he always had the potential to be. Miller made him dangerous but also very psychotic and obsessive, willing to kill just about anyone. Miller also used Bullseye to force Daredevil to re-evaluate his views on right and wrong and his view on the comic-book tradition that heroes never kill.
The comic-book panel to the right is from issue No. 181, as reproduced in this volume.
Kingpin had debuted many years earlier in Amazing Spider-man issue No. 50. He had never been a top-level villain in that series, mainly because Spider-Man had so many great foes that the Kingpin kind of got lost in the shuffle. Because he lacked any superpowers he also just didn't seem to fit in well.
Then Miller brought him into the street-level violence of Daredevil, and everything clicked. Now the Kingpin is seen as one of Marvel Comics' top villains, and deservedly so.
Frank Miller's Debut as Daredevil's Artist
Daredevil Visionaries: Volume 1
The first volume of the Daredevil Visionaries series contains Miller's debut as Daredevil's artist in issue No. 158. For more on this volume, please see our review here:
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Brings Greatness to the Marvel Comics' Superhero!
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Frank Miller, Batman and Sin City
Writer and Film Director
Frank Miller, born in 1957, went on to many successes after Daredevil, including his own graphic novels Ronin, Sin City and 300. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns from 1986 moved the comic industry toward darker characters and themes, and is widely considered one of the greatest superhero graphic novels. Several of his works have been made into movies, with 300 very successful and Sin City pretty good. He also directed a film version of The Spirit which was pretty much panned. For more on the artist see: Frank Miller.
Frank Miller Talking About Daredevil - From the documentary The Men Without Fear
Here is a clip of Frank Miller talking about his views on Daredevil, from the documentary ''The Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil. In this clip, Miller explains what first attracted him to the character and, among other things, why Daredevil is a Catholic.
Before Miller, There Was Gene Colan
Daredevil's First Great Artist!
Before Frank Miller reinvigorated Daredevil, the comic had a run of great artwork by Gene Colan. Colan drew Daredevil from issue No. 20 to issue No. 100, rarely missing an issue. He was cinematic artist, known for scenes that created moods like none other. Sadly, he died on June 23, 2011. I wrote an appreciation of Gene Colan as a separate lens, so please visit it if you are interested in learning more about an artist that also helped define Daredevil's look.
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