Daredevil #158 Retro Review (1979) Frank Miller’s Daredevil debut!!

Writer: Roger McKenzie

Art: Frank Miller, Joe Rosen, Klaus Janson, George Roussos

Price: $.35

Release Date: May 1st, 1979

Have Marvel Unlimited? Red the Issue Here: Daredevil #158

Frank Miller makes his debut in his critically acclaimed Daredevil run. Let’s start at the beginning, and see where it leads us!

As the comic business and world has been thrown the nastiest curveball in history, I’ve found my so-called happy place in reading comics. I’m doing read-throughs of Daredevil as well as other Marvel and DC books. The Marvel Universe and DC Universe apps are getting some serious use by me!!

Daredevil is my favorite current book by either of the big two. If you aren’t reading it, I HIGHLY recommend it. Chip Zdarsky has crafted an intriguing story, with many threads. The art is also top-notch!! Liking the current run so much caused my interest in what has become one of the most respected and stable runs of any Marvel character. It wasn’t always that way though! I tried to read from issue one and just couldn’t do it. Daredevil was a globe-trotting swashbuckler basically. It was very much a villain of the month book. I read the first 25 issues than jumped to issue 138. Gene Colan, John Byrne, Marv Wolfman among others were on the book at this time, and I like all of them. A lot!

Issue 158 is where I happen to be now, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating this run so I figured it is a perfect issue for a retro review.

Being completely transparent, I’m not the biggest Frank Miller fan. Art is totally subjective obviously. When I think Frank Miller, I see this in my mind

I’m just not a fan of the wrinkles in the costume, and even less of a fan of a character such as Batman having fists that are literally bigger than his head. I know it’s comics, but come on. Have some proportional awareness!! And because of this, I’ve NEVER read any of Franks Miller’s Batman stuff! I will at some point I’m sure, but if I don’t like the art, I won’t read it.

By early 1979 Miller had been the guest penciller on Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man for a few issues. BTW I’m also reading that series! It’s good, check it out! And man I couldn’t have been more surprised! Miller’s style completely changes by the time he does the Batman stuff. It’ll be an extremely fun journey to watch his career and style progress. Perhaps it’ll end up growing on me?? We’ll see. Let’s dive into issue 158 and see what happens!

I’ll go out on a limb and presume that Jim Shooter wrote the little blurb about Miller on the above page. And man was he right!!! I hope he played the lottery that day!

Unfortunately, Miller makes his debut in the middle of an arc. The story is really not much to write home about honestly. It involves the Death Stalker who is an insane inhuman, and the Unholy Three, who have kidnapped Matt Murdock at the Death Stalker’s request. Only to be murdered by him once two of the three deliver Murdock to a cemetery. We all know, or now we know that the real story here is Frank Miller’s art. I’m a huge Gene Colan fan, as I mentioned earlier, and Miller’s early art reminds me of Colan’s very much. Facial expressions are used to great effect. Fear and despair are clearly shown here.

Miller also uses his backgrounds to create a cityscape that begins Daredevil’s transformation into a gritty street character battling it out in NYC/ Hell’s Kitchen. Darkness, smoke, shadows all are used in a way that adds to the overall ambiance of this book.

Miller obviously can draw a superhero while also making them look like they’re a human being with proper proportions, and the way he shows Daredevil in “motion” is pretty unique for this time period too.

Klaus Janson does a fabulous job with his inking by enhancing Miller’s pencils. That’s his job, I know, but it really stands out on the page below.

The dark silhouette of Daredevil with the red DD is excellent!

Final Thoughts:

I’m glad I kept an open mind on Frank Miller. While the story isn’t the best, to be able to go back and read/see what many consider the beginning of the modern age of Daredevil was a ton of fun! I can’t wait to continue reading to not only see how Miller’s art evolves, but also how he does as a writer too.


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