"Ralph Macchio offered me Daredevil and said 'You can do whatever you want and do your own finished pencils.' At this point I was so tired of doing breakdowns and not feeling a apart of it, I wanted to do finished pencils. That might be a turning point I can't compare to at any other time in my career, because I was able to suddenly draw again, putting in shadows and shading."
|The shading and light lines, as finished beautifully by Al Williamson (inks) and Max Scheele (colors), are a visual hallmark of JRJR's run on Daredevil.|
"Ann Nocenti even asked me what I thought about some plots...'Wow! Someone asked me about a plot!'
There are some nice overviews of Nocenti's DD run out there (here's one.) I didn't like it at the time and had given up the book before JRJR came onboard. But looking at it now there's a lot to admire.
|There's a lot of inaction, but when the action arrives, it's very cinematic.|
As Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs wrote in The Comic Book Heroes: "Ann Nocenti wrote a strange and astonishing run on Daredevil, including a story in which the blind crimefighter journeys to a heavenly realm of 'billboard beauties,' a consumer-culture version of Plato's world of ideals, where women lose their souls to gain plastic perfection."
|It comes off a lot looser in the reading than that description.|
|This evocation of Plato and existentialism might seem obtrusive to audiences today, I don't know. I can remember when stuff like this was always cause for a "in a comic book?" comment from some quarter.|
|Perhaps things get a little too meta with the all-nude swords-crossing of the Inhumans Gorgon and Karnak.|
|"Woomb!" Judd Apatow said somewhere that he'd worked out the exact amount of screentime dudity can capture before invoking total discomfort in an audience. Ann and JRJR might have contributed to the research here.|
|Of course, the point (or part of it) would be that similar amounts of nudity for females not only is taken for granted but is encouraged and internalized, etc. But this is a Scenic Route, not a Thematic Route.)|
Back to TCBH: "John Romita, Jr., who left behind the pyrotechnics - and the big money - of X-Men assignments to turn in the most sensitive art of his career."
|Some pyrotechnics, to be sure.|
As before I'll skip any covers, but JRJR really outdid himself on so many of these. Chapeau! Here are some title pages I enjoyed from this run:
INFERNO AND HELL
I've never read each and every Inferno cross-over to know if this is absolutely true, but it seems from my limited overview of the storyline that it's explored most compellingly in Daredevil. Daredevil works himself to exhaustion fighting back against the demon tide, then recuperates in a bar, where he's almost picked up by Mephisto in disguise.
|More on Mephisto in a moment, though.|
UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE OF TOS-ERA SHATNER
AS THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR.
Many hate JRJR's redesign of Mephisto, but it fit the mood and characterization given for Nocenti's plots. It only lasted for this run of issues, I think, so what's the big deal anyway?
Either the Mephisto stuff (which is much more involved than just a visual redesign) or Typhoid Mary is probably the most memorable feature of this run.
|Of the two, I prefer the former, but the schizophrenic Elektra-foil of Mary has more ups than downs.|
|Pretty Blue Velvet in some spots, too.|
HOW SOON IS NOW
|Oh Daredevil. You madman.|
SERIOUSLY, WHO DID THE BLOB BLACKMAIL
IN THE MARVEL BULLPEN?
|This guy is in everything every other month throughout the 80s. How and why did this happen?|
I'm skipping over the whole DD-on-the-road-finding-himself stretch, and I shouldn't but can't cover everything. It's a very interesting run on the book. I only kept up with Daredevil for the Miller/ Jansen era, the subsequent Mazzuccheli era, and the very beginning of Nocenti's run. This might have been the last DD I bought off the stand. By this point the title had gone through so many radical changes over the years that it just confused my adolescent mind. I wish I'd appreciated it more at the time.
MAN WITHOUT FEAR
"I'll never be able to thank Ralph Macchio enough for getting me on Daredevil. That led to working Frank Miller on Man Without Fear."
Man Without Fear began life as a treatment for a Daredevil TV series that never materialized. In those days, the best DD anyone could envision for television looked like this. It's interesting to compare that clip to this Man Without Fear series, which was later used as a template for the ongoing Netflix show; we all could have gotten something like the Netflix show (which pleases new, old, and even indifferent Hornhead fans) twenty-five years before we did had studio execs not been so narrow-minded on the genre's potential.
Although it didn't see publication until 1993, Miller and JRJR began working on Man Without Fear several years before that. What started as a treatment kept growing until they had a full-fledged limited series on their hands.
|Production value. Prestige series.|
|The action storyboarding is great. Some of the most kinetic comics ever made up to this point in time.|
|This sequence in particular is great.|
|Almost put this pic up as my 9/11 tribute today, but the towers aren't quite the focus of the shot. And the text might have confused the message.|
"Man Without Fear really cemented people's opinions of me, and after I was through with it, I still continued to do Iron Man for a couple of years, then got a chance to get back on the X-Men again, for another three years. I think. Then I had a couple of personality problems with some guys. I got the worst treatment, the worst I've ever been treated was this period of time. After this one editor got fired and I heard what he had done to me behind my back, it really ruined a lot for me. It took the fun out of it, and I was tempted not to go back to Marvel but to go to DC, as my contract was coming up. * But when artists went over to start Image and left Marvel with few big names, Marvel felt they had to ensure the remaining talent would stay, so they overpaid me. The Kuberts, Bagley, Ron Garney - the company felt they had to cement us guys as Marvel artists, and they gave us great contracts."
|* We'll look at all this other 90s stuff in the next post.|
GREATER MARVEL UNIVERSE
|Some familiar faces drop in.|
|We've seen JRJR draw all these guys before, of course, but always nice to see more.|
|And an appropriate segue to:|
|So, so much hair!|
All quotes from Comic Book Artist #20 and the 30th Anniversary tribute except where noted.
X-MEN! THOR! PUNISHER! SPIDER-MAN!
|See you then.|