Friday, September 29, 2006

Bullseye Rules Supreme! (Marvel comics)
Daredevil #132 When: April 1976
Why: Marv Wolfman How: Bob Brown & Klaus Janson

The story so far...
There's a deadly new mercenary in town, and he calls himself Bullseye.
His guarantee is that he never misses, and thus far he's lived up to the name.

Looking for publicity and money, Bullseye indulges Daredevil in combat, to enhance his already growing reputation. Thanks to newspapers like the Daily Bugle, Bullseye's reputation is going national.

Having lured Daredevil to the circus, Bullseye plans to make further headlines at the expensive of a certain blind vigilante.

Previous Form:
Daredevil (#4): Daredevil has victories over Wolverine and Bullseye, and has tustled with the Hulk.
Bullseye (#163): Bullseye has suffered defeat at the hands of Daredevil and Elektra, as well as Batman and Robin.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Daredevil 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: Bullseye 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Daredevil 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Daredevil 5 (Marathon Runner)
Agility: Daredevil 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Daredevil 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Bullseye 4 (Arsenal)

I think it's always interesting when we feature classic rivalries, particularly the encounters that perhaps are not the best known.
Obviously something like Daredevil #181 is a high profile encounter for these two, known as the issue that killed Elektra.

This meeting is much earlier in the careers of both characters, but lays some of the groundwork for what would eventually become one of the most intereting feuds in comic book history.

Like a lot of rivalries, these two are incredibly well matched.

What Daredevil has in physical ability and enhanced senses, Bullseye makes up for in cunning and skill. They are as different as they are similar, each deadly in their own ways.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about these two is that Bullseye has had the better of DD plenty of times. Bullseye slips through Daredevil's fingers, and even manages to take a couple of his girls, and dish out some punishment to hornhead himself.

We could look at the traits of each character more specifically.
Examine Bullseye's marksmanship, which, in a perfect world makes him unbeatable in the same way DD's ninja stealth might make him the ultimate killer.

Neither scenario is realistic.
Overall, odds favour the hero, and Daredevil is certainly the more apt fighter of the two. Bullseye is a wildcard, but you can only play that so often.

Overall: Daredevil (+1)
The Pick: Daredevil

What went down...
We jump straight into the action -- Bullseye juggling three bowling pins. Daredevil verbalising his situation. Why the hell not?

Bullseye whips pin after pin, DD narrowly avoid each as he nimbly leaps his way to the top of a circus cage. [If you somehow missed it, they're fighting at the circuis. - Ringmaster Mike]

The villain snatches a whip away from one of the nearby animal trainers who is doing jackshit to stop this maniac, whose back is turned -- and uses it to snare DD's leg as he tries to leap to the highwire.

Daredevil tries to maneuver acrobatically to lessen the impact, but he still winds up taking a bellyflop into the dirt below. A fall that wrenches his arm, and generally roughs him up pretty bad.

Bullseye feels somewhat disatisfied with the outcome, as Daredevil lies winded on the dirty circus floor.
Rather than go in for the rather simple kill, he accosts a woman riding an elephant, and rides it in the direction of Daredevil. An attack that is apparently designed to give DD a sporting chance.

Daredevil performs a rather spectacular handspring that propels him out of the path of the rampaging elephant, atop which his nemesis is perched.

Bullseye leaps from the behemoth and heads for the canon, where the human cannonball has apparently been asleep at the post, because he has no idea what's going on; "Hey! Whattaya think you're doin'?"
Clearly didn't notice the RAMPAGING ELEPHANT!

The master marksman takes control of the cannon, and does not disappoint, sending the human ammunition hurtling directly into Daredevil.

This apparently seems like an opportune moment for Bullseye to scale a ladder that leads to the one hundred and twenty foot diving platform.
Daredevil, though injured, follows in hot pirsuit, conscious of the fact that he must hide his injuries from his ruthless enemy.

His injuries prove to be the last of his worries, as Bullseye uses a conveniently unattended bag of rosin as a projectile weapon that promises to suffocate Daredevil as the bag explodes, and the contents within cling to his face.

Bullseye Tarzans it out of there, and DD manages to clear the deadly powder in time to narrowly avoid suffocation, before again taking pirsuit.

Taking one of the cartridges from his hip, Bullseye reveals that they power a special sonic powered gun he uses to fire deadly blasts. A blast he uses to create super heated steam from the 120ft dive pool.

The steam provides sufficient distraction for Bullseye to make an exit, and promise encounters yet to come to Daredevil. The pawn of his enemy, who sought only to put on sufficient enough a spectacle to garner impressive publicity.
Truly a modern villain!

The hammer...
Well, that was a pretty comprehensive win for Bullseye!
Helluva way to start a rivalry.

It's somewhat amusing to look at the stark contrast between this early encounter between the two characters, and more recent versions under the diligent pen of Frank Miller or Brian Michael Bendis.
The arc of the two characters is truly startling.

What reads like an episode of the nineteen sixties Batman series, completely with rampaging elephant and circus bigtop, evolves into the gritty urban drama that we more instantly recognise.

It's interesting to note the vulnerability of the Daredevil charcater, even here. By issue's end he does find retribution by defeating the foe, which is fairly traditional story writing -- but the degree to which he is defeated earlier is a sign of things to eventually come.

Part of what's delayed updates has been progress on my own career as a comics writer, and my own projects.
Something that's been of particular interest to myself and pencilling dynamo Pedro Cruz, is the potential of human frailties and vulnerabilities.

The character I'm writing, the White Ghost, is not unlike a Daredevil.
A relatively normal human being in a costume that fights in urban settings against a psuedo-realistic backdrop. Something I've found, and this was Pedro's observation, is that what we're doing is exploring some of the more base qualities, and doing so with a bit of a sense of humor.

This is perhaps in contrast to Daredevil, which under Miller and Smith and Bendis have really been about pushing a character to the very extremes of angst, and loss, and failure.

To get back to the point, it's just very interesting to even look back at this 1976 issue of Daredevil -- which reeks of a lot of what wasn't spectacular about DD, but still recognise some of these traits that have stamped the character into the minds of comic fans everywhere.

Also interesting to note inks/finishes by Klaus Janson.
Every now and then I forget just how many places he pops up away from Miller.

The Fight: 2.5 The Issue: 3

NEXT: The monthly punch-up, and more on my fledgling comics career! Plus regular features - Quick Fix! Top 5 and more!

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