Daredevil: Marked for Death

By Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller & Klaus Janson (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-087135-351-1

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer whose remaining senses hyper-compensate, making him an astonishing acrobat, formidable fighter and living lie-detector. Very much a second-string hero for most of his early years, Daredevil was nonetheless a striking and popular one, due in large part to the captivatingly humanistic art of Gene Colan. He fought gangsters, a variety of super-villains and even the occasional monster or alien invasion. He quipped and wise-cracked his way through life and life-threatening combat, but under the auspices of Jim Shooter, Roger McKenzie and finally Frank Miller himself, the character transformed into a dark, moody avenger and grim, quasi-religious metaphor of justice and retribution…

Here’s another slim, sleek and sublimely enticing lost treasure from the early days of graphic novel compilations that will undoubtedly enthral fans of hard-bitten, high-calibre Masked Manhunter melees.

Released in 1990, this full-colour 96-page compendium first collected the landmark stories which so quickly confirmed the Man Without Fear as the new face of comics action.

Daredevil #159-161 and 163-164 from July 1979 – May 1980 completed the gradual transformation of DD – begun by Marv Wolfman and Jim Shooter – from bold, apparently carefree Scarlet Swashbuckler to driven, terrifying urban avenger: a Demon dipped in blood. What Roger McKenzie began here Miller would finish in an audacious groundbreaking run of shocking, compelling dark masterpieces… a momentous, unmissable, “must-read” series.

The groundbreaking adventure begins with ‘Marked for Murder!’ (McKenzie, Miller & Klaus Janson) as infallible assassin Mr. Slaughter is brought out of retirement for a very special hit on the Sightless Superhero. Meanwhile veteran Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich starts to slowly piece together snippets which indicate that blind attorney Matt Murdock might be far more than he seems…

The spectacular showdown between the Crimson Crimebuster and Slaughter’s army of killers compels the mysterious client to do his own dirty work and, after brutally abducting DD’s old girlfriend the Black Widow, the hero has no choice but to put himself ‘In the Hands of Bullseye!’, culminating in a devastating duel and ultimate defeat for the psychopathic villain in ‘To Dare the Devil!’

Issue #162 featured a fill-in tale by Michael Fleisher & Steve Ditko and is not included here – although Miller’s rejected cover for that issue is part of the gallery section – so after a one-page info-feature on ‘Daredevil’s Billy Club!’ the stunning David and Goliath action resumes as the merely mortal Man Without Fear battled the Incredible Hulk in ‘Blind Alley’ (inked by Josef Rubenstein & Janson) in a desperate and ultimately hopeless attempt to save his beloved city…

This superb compilation concludes with an evocative retelling of his origin in ‘Exposé’ as the meticulous and dogged Urich confronts the hospitalised hero with the inescapable conclusions of his research…

Tense, tough, dramatic, disturbing, clever, beautiful and astoundingly visceral, these stories turned a popular costumed hero into an icon of the modern comics industry and are still amongst the best tales in the character’s long history.

Available in a number of collections these epics should be compulsory reading for any action fan or comics aficionado.
© 1990 Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. All rights reserved.