It was back to my local 7-11 on Thursday for that week’s new comic book releases–I had worked out over the summer that new books came out on Thursdays, so I never missed a trip to the 7-11 after school on that day. And this week, a new issue of DAREDEVIL was waiting for me. It’s got a pretty nice cover on it by Gil Kane and Klaus Janson, channeling the spirit of Gene Colan just a bit in the manner that DD’s speed-trail is depicted here. Klaus in particular was really coming into his own as an inker who added materially to the feel of the final product, something that would serve in good stead in a few issues when Frank Miller joined the creative team.
Klaus is also present on the interiors, where he’s working over the pencils of industry legend Carmine Infantino. I feel that Klaus was probably just about the best inker over Infantino in his post-DC Publisher period (though Tom Palmer also did some very nice work over Carmine in this time.) Klaus maintained the particular stylization of Carmine’s work while making it seem better rounded off, fuller, and certainly more textured and more urban–qualities that were important on a series such as DAREDEVIL.
Unfortunately, this issue, the first written by Roger McKenzie, feels like a lot of running in place. I’m not sure that McKenzie knew when he wrote it that he would be taking over the title; it’s possible he thought he was just stopgapping for Jim Shooter and so decided to try to keep the ongoing plotlines pretty much where they were. Either way, this issue works really hard to appear as though there is forward movement without actually giving the reader any forward movement. We open on the funeral for Maxwell Glenn, Matt’s girlfriend’s father, who had been framed and incarcerated thanks to the machinations of the Purple Man and who had committed suicide.
Glenn’s death is weighing on both Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson, for different reasons. The crime Glenn was framed for was the abduction of Foggy’s girlfriend Debbie Harris–and since she was freed from captivity, she hasn’t wanted to see or speak with Foggy. This has Foggy on edge, drinking too much, and is also giving Matt ulcers because, as Daredevil, he wasn’t able to locate Debbie for some time. DD’s so off his game that he almost slips and falls off a roof, but he manages to save himself–largely to give a very talky sequence some action to look at. Ultimately, after listening in on Foggy’s latest attempt to call Debbie, Daredevil decides to venture out to her place and find out just what her problem is.
Debbie Harris has been badly traumatized by her captivity, so much so that she’s gone into seclusion. Daredevil’s answer to this is to beat the heck out of the security guard employed to insure Debbie’s safety, then to pick Debbie up bodily and carry her away to Central Park, where he calls Foggy to meet him. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but kidnapping a woman who was traumatized by being kidnapped doesn’t seem like the wisest course of action. But everything works out for hornhead, so the Gods of fiction are with him–Foggy shows up and he and Debbie are reunited.
On his way out of the Park, feeling pretty good about himself and his haphazard solution to Foggy’s problem, Daredevil spots a guy being chased by a gunman, and moves to intercept the pursuer. Once again, DD’s judgment is a bit sloppy here, because the man giving chase is Paladin, the swashbuckler-for-hire that the Man Without Fear met two issues ago. What’s more, the guy Paladin is chasing is a henchman for the Purple Man, whom both of them have been trying to find. But Paladin is pissed at DD’s interference and a short fight breaks out between the two costumed cut-ups, allowing the thug to make his escape. Paladin ultimately incapacitates Daredevil and tells the sightless crusader that he already knows the Purple Man’s location, but now he’s going to have to race to get there before the henchman can warn his boss. And off he goes, leaving Daredevil lying in the dirt.
So for those keeping score, Daredevil has so far de-traumatized a woman by re-traumatizing her, and prevented himself from getting a lead on the whereabouts of the enemy he’s been struggling to locate for issues. What more could be left? Well, when DD gets back to Matt Murdock’s apartment, he gets a frantic call from Heather Glenn pleading for his help. Daredevil swings off towards Heather’s place–but we see in the final panel that there are at least two shadowed gunmen waiting to plug Daredevil (or really Matt Murdock, presumably) as soon as he crashes through the window. And on that note we are To Be Continued–and given Daredevil’s batting average this month, that cliffhanger feels a lot more dire than it might otherwise have been.
And, hey, the letters page this month included that year’s Statement of Ownership, a legal document that companies were required to run in order to maintain their second class subscription mailing status, and which gives us a glimpse into just how well DAREDEVIL was performing in 1978 (or, really, the end of 1977.) From it, we can see that DAREDEVIL was selling 119, 632 copies on a print run of 324, 092, giving it an efficiency of just under 37%. Not a good number, but certainly in line with most of what we’ve seen so far.