1976: Bullseye (Daredevil #131-132)

bullseyeIf you’re looking to read about the horse from Toy Story 2, you’ve come to the wrong place. This is the story of Bullseye, the worlds greatest marksmen and assassin. In my humble opinion, he is Daredevil’s greatest adversary. Not the Kingpin, not Owlman, and not colour-by-numbers. His case is not made here. While this isn’t too bad of an issue, it is Marv Wolfman, a writer about to become great creating a villain who will become great around the same time. Bob Brown and Klaus Jansen provide the art (although it is John Romita Sr who is credited with co-creation), which is also nothing to write home about.

Bullseye is a player in town demanding money from the rich, but killing one guy before he can pay to set an example, and killing another not long after, because the second victim went to the cops. This, naturally, alerts the likes of Matt Murdock, our blind hero who goes out at night searching for justice in what he thinks is his Sunday best, but is actually a red leather devil costume.

3491924-3404742679-18863Before searching Bullseye out directly, Daredevil speaks with a member of the press about who he is. The reporter tells him the story of a professional pitcher turned Viet Nam soldier, who, as the Viet Cong body count rose, grew to love killing. And as ammunition ran out, got better and better at throwing weapons of his own making. Not much of an origin, but all you need for a character such as he. He is not driven by political agenda, or by hard upbringings, or revenge, he simply enjoys killing, so he makes a career of it. As the Joker says in The Dark Knight, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”. In fact I have always compared the 2 villains as being most similar, both are driven simply by pure evil. They don’t really care for the money, or the power. They just want to see the world burn, and see their nemesis fall.

Anyways, after the meeting with the reporter, DD heads out, but is pulled into battle with Bullseye, who had been waiting for him. As they fight Bullseye leads them to a circus for a public show of his power and execution for Daredevil. End of #131. #132 continues the festivities, with more showing of both Daredevil’s and Bullseye’s skills. This is a classic silver age comic move, many issues including the first issue of Avengers include a fight scene that takes place in a circus. This is a great arena for battle, plenty of space, plenty of obstacles, plenty of makeshift weapons, plenty of ropes, animals and platforms to perform special moves with, and a crowd that can only wait in anticipation.

Bullseye_Greatest_Hits_Vol_1_1_TextlessThe fight ends with Daredevil still alive and Bullseye escaping. But that’s fine, because coincidence brings them together again. The subplot, one of Matt Murdock’s legal cases, brings Matt close enough to hear Bullseye working on another victim, and Daredevil surprises him, and takes him down, sending him to jail once and for all (until next time)

Nothing about these issues screamed arch nemesis to me. The two do seem to be equally matched, neither has a physical advantage over the other, and while Daredevil can match dodge his accuracy, Bullseye still keeps DD moving the whole time and gives him a hard time getting in for the punches and kicks that he’s used to delivering and almost needs for the victory.

Cheesiest Moment: Bullseye throwing a paper airplane through a window. The paper is a ransom note, and is sent between sky rises. Between the wind and it being paper, you would never be able to throw it hard enough that it doesn’t get caught by the air and fast enough that it can go through a window.

Cleverest Moment: Bullseye throwing a grenade at Daredevil. He missed, but has the timing just right so that it still blows up close enough to knock DD into the streets.

marvel_comics_hawkeye_bullseye_desktop_1680x1050_hd-wallpaper-974752It isn’t until later, probably the Frank Miller run (along with Klaus Jansen), that Bullseye really steps it up and solidifies himself as Daredevil’s greatest physical challenge. This is the storyline where he kills Elektra. It is one of my favourite runs in all of comics. He is also used brilliantly used in Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato Jr’s Thunderbolts. From Thunderbolts he graduates into Brian Bendis’ and Deodato’s Dark Avengers impersonating Hawkeye. This was a clever move, I’m actually surprised they never made him a more serious Hawkeye villain. It’s not as solid of a story, but during that era as Hawkeye there are some clever scenes and interactions with other characters throughout the Marvel line that make him a threat for all.

Despite the magnificence of those runs, I have a tie for the best Bullseye pieces. The best series I have ever seen him written in has been in Daniel Way and Steve Dillon’s miniseries Bullseye: Greatest Hits, and Bullseye vs Punisher. They capture the threat that is Bullseye as well as the abandonment of anything human or moral in his fibres. They also make his history similar to Jokers, you have an idea of what it might be, but it is also just as likely that is anything else. And that, in itself, makes his origin meaningless. All that he is is danger and wanton chaos. Picture-7Also tied for best is his best single issue appearance, which is Miller’s Daredevil #191 entitled “Roulette”. In it, Daredevil visits a paralyzed Bullseye in the hospital and tells him the story of a young boy. As he does so, he plays Russian Roulette with Bullseye who is unable to do anything but watch and hope he doesn’t die.

Bullseye, played by Colin Farrell, appeared as one of the main villains in the notorious Daredevil movie. I will be honest, while I hate it now, it is only because I watched it a thousand times when it came out, and I have since matured in my tastes that I know longer appreciate it. The same goes for Spider-Man. But when I was younger I remember I would watch the trailer every morning as I ate my breakfast in anticipation of its release, and I loved it then. One of the reasons I think I like Elektra’s death so much is that (other than it being fantastically written) I find nostalgia in replaying the scenes from the movie as I read (the death scene is almost identical to the comic). Colin Farrell did not play him the way I would have written him, they made him super Irish, but at the time, I did think he was cool. Although I find the comic version much cooler, in both appearance and characterization.

I know that Marvel will not be using him in the Daredevil series premiering on Netflix April 10th, but if all goes well I hope they use him for season 2 or as part of the threat the heroes will face when the four Netflix series team up in The Defenders.

I think Daredevil is a much better hero for his work against Bullseye.

Thanks for reading!

Images from http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_large/8/84205/3996686-dd131nm9m073.jpg, http://hdwallpapersfactory.com/wallpaper/marvel_comics_hawkeye_bullseye_desktop_1680x1050_hd-wallpaper-974752.jpg, http://www.theothermurdockpapers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Picture-7.png, http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11113/111130700/3491924-3404742679-18863.GIF, http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20070407152558/marveldatabase/images/f/f3/Bullseye_Greatest_Hits_Vol_1_1_Textless.jpg

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