- Series: Daredevil
- Hardcover: 840 pages
- Publisher: Marvel; Reprint edition (March 15, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780785195368
- ISBN-13: 978-0785195368
- ASIN: 078519536X
- Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.8 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 47 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Jason Omnibus (New Printing) Hardcover – March 15, 2016
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A long bit of history as an introduction, I know, but here's what you need to understand, and why it relates to this book: when Daredevil first came about, it was during an explosion of creativity at Marvel that saw all these heroes explode on the scene. But while many thrived in the decade to come, by the late 1970's, Daredevil was on the verge of cancellation. The books weren't selling, and no one really cared about the character. It seemed "Ole Horn Head" was nearing his demise. Enter Frank Miller. Miller began as a penciller on DD, and within 10 issues, began writing the character, with the amazing Klaus Janson inking. What they did next revived the character, and left an imprint on comics that would last for decades to come.
What Miller and Janson did that I feel was most important was that they transitioned DD away from being a superhero book, into more of a neo-noir crime drama. Whereas before DD had battled costumed villians like Stilt-Man and The Owl, Miller brought Wilson Fisk, the notorious Kingpin of Crime, into the spotlight, as well as reinvigorating staple villain Bullseye, and formed one of the greatest hero-villain struggles in all of comics. Miller located Matt and his supporting cast almost exclusively in Hell's Kitchen, eliminating the need for Matt to battle all over NYC. The Avengers, Spider-Man, and others already had that covered. Matt was going to take care of Hell's Kitchen, the placed that made him who he is. This is important, as it changed DD's dynamic from a traditional superhero, into a devoted, sometimes violent guardian of several blocks in a sprawling city, a "backyard hero." This made Matt a character that was far more relatable and empathetic to readers. Very few of us go to save the world, but everybody understands the impulse to defend their home turf.
Miller's writing is great here. His senior efforts that made him a household name were still a ways off, and this is the voice of a growing artist, not a seasoned professional. Despite this, the dialogue is sharp, the scenarios well written and engaging, and the human drama is center stage. Miller had a vision when he assumed duties on DD, and he communicates it beautifully. I don't want to spoil things, but the continuous struggle that Matt endures, not only while combating the likes of Kingpin and Bullseye, is equaled in every way by his personal struggles amidst his love for Miller-created Elektra, Matt's lover turned master assassin, his vigilantism versus his oath to uphold the law, and his deep seeded guilt for his actions spurred by his Catholic beliefs versus his determination to right the wrongs in his city. Simply put, this is a story to rival any told not only in the comics medium, but any piece of fiction.
The artwork is good, though definitely a product of the 1970's. As comics have developed, the art has (mostly) gotten better, with advances in technology and, more importantly, the willingness of people to acknowledge comics as a valid medium, which in turn attracted better, more developed artists to the field. That said, Miller's pencils are tight, concentrated efforts that tell an excellent story through their visual punch. Action scenes, moments of quiet drama, and emotional explosions are all prevalent and portrayed as only Miller can. Klaus Janson, providing inks throughout and taking over pencils when Miller relinquished them to write full time, is awe inspiring, with crisp, powerful brush and pen work that adds the shadowy depth that would come to signify and define DD's world. To summarize: Miller made it plausible, Janson made it real.
As for the book itself, this is one of Marvel's finest compendiums. The book is your standard hardcover fair: reinforced, high quality paper, and very durable. It's packed with pencil and ink sketches, unused covers, an extensive interview with Miller and Janson, as well as introductions by both. Simply put, you're getting an absolute deal with this book.
Miller and Janson's work not only redefined and established DD as a powerhouse in comics, but laid the groundwork for Miller's future masterpieces, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Sin City, Ronin, and of course, his return to the character that made his fame with the acclaimed DD storyline, "Born Again," as well as his excellent collaboration with John Romita Jr. on the character, "Daredevil: The Man Without Fear." While Miller's work has definitely deteriorated in recent years (All Star Batman anyone?...), this is Miller, not quite at the peak of his powers, but confident and aggressive in bringing a unique voice to a unique character. After finishing this, I would also recommend the aforementioned DD titles, "Born Again," and "The Man Without Fear." If you still can't get enough DD, check out Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleevs' run on the title (collected in three TPBs as The Ultimate Collection series) as well as Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark's run (also in the Ultimate Collection series). This is an amazing book, with an amazing story, with a hero who doesn't always win, but never gives up. I encourage you to dive right into Hell's Kitchen and follow Murdock and Co. through some of the best stories that comics, and fiction at large, have ever produced. Be sure you bring plenty of gauze and a steel baton. You'll need them.
The only sour note that for me requires appending is the bloody awful follow-up he did years later “expanding” on DD's origin story. I read that four (or was it five?) issue set with their beautiful foil-enhanced covers and high-quailty paper stock, stacked them together, and threw them in the garbage, never to taint the original, here on offer, ever again. This version, the first, is all you will ever need.
But of course the quality of the illustration (of fight scenes, etc) have become more meticulous since the this series first came out in the 1980's. The coloring and quality of printing today vs. 4 decades ago have also grown leaps and bounds.
So, buy it for the yarn, if you must.