Before he became FRANK MILLER - which could easily be from his first full issue where Elektra was created retroactively in DAREDEVIL #168, Frank Miller drew some stories in partnership principally with Roger McKenzie. This is the best of them. This is DAREDEVIL #163. It holds up a mirror to the early showdown between Prince Namor and Daredevil. That was an early classic. And it was drawn by the character's first important innovator, Wally Wood. Read All About It!, Read All About It! in DAREDEVIL #7.
In DAREDEVIL #163, Daredevil has to throw himself at the Hulk! It's called "Blind Alley"
and has the distinction of being almost completely inked by Josef Rubenstein. The first three pages are inked by Miller's usual partner in crime, Klaus Janson.
The opening shot shows the Hulk's unsmiling face filling up the front page of a newspaper. He's been sighted in Manhattan. Tony Stark, J. Jonah Jameson (holding the Daily Bugle), the DA Tower and Matt Murdock are gathered together under ritz and chandeliers. Judge Coffin is annoyed as Murdock's attention is stolen away completely. Matt Murdock defended the Hulk once. He was about to be pestered about that. Matt's also there at the same time as one of his most ultimately luckless girlfriends, the sassy Heather. They're on the outs at this point and she's there with some dude with a showpiece mustache.
His attention wanders again when he hears the unmistakable heartbeat of the concealed Green Goliath. He must exit, at what ever cost. This time he blanks Heather and cons poor Foggy Nelson into getting him a drink. Standing out on the balcony, he's away, billyclub handle wrapped around a flagpole. Two slim bird's eye view panels show Matt covering the alleys between him - and the Heartbeat!
Then there's the green hand - and Matt standing in the Hulk-sized hole in the wall!
Matt lets the Hulk lumber up to him. His outline is coloured in hot pink on Murdock's radar. Then the panel that takes up two-thirds of the page with the title and credits creeping out from under their feet towards the bottom of the page. The Hulk seems to be a Kirby-flavoured Frankenstein's Monster. It looks great. "What do you want, Little Man? "To help you."
Matt pleads with the Hulk, hoping to calm him down enough to have him transform back into his human half. Or just to calm down. Though the Hulk isn't throwing cities at anyone, he's surly and untrusting. He pushes Matt aside. "Hulk doesn't need anyone's help!"
Trying to keep the Hulk from wandering away, Matthew dares to come out with: "Not even Banner's?"
The last panel on the page shows almost a profile of the Hulk's reaction. Daredevil has definitely said either the right thing or the wrong!
Hulk lunges at him and tears the wall behind him into chunks. Matt stands his ground and looks unthreatening - like anyone standing next to the Hulk. The Hulk reluctantly listens. Slowly, he acquieces, and Banner reemerges from his bannershment. He collapses. When he awakes, he is sitting bolt-upright in a nice clean single bed screaming. Matt enters like Florence Nightingale with coffee.
In the next two pages, the two Marvel alter-egos plan Bruce Banner's next movements. The idea of handing himself over to the authorities throws Banner into a fit. Matt gives him clothes and money so that he can clandestinely depart New York. Banner takes the subway. That's right, I said subway!!
A nine-panel grid details the situation falling apart, the jostling and the claustrophobia. The Hulk is present! "Where is Hulk now? What is this place?"
The Hulk jumps straight up, through two ceilings, the second one a great thickness of New York concrete and street. It's one of "those" Frank Miller pages, with the left-hand side forming one intriguing vertical panel. In a taxi, Murdock hears this hell breaking loose. "All he wanted was a chance to get safely out of New York. But he obviously didn't make it."
Obviously. He hops to it...
In the next two pages, Matt confronts the Hulk for the second time. The Hulk is looking for Banner! He only has finding Banner on the mind! Daredevil is asking him to calm down once more, but a cop with a shot he can take shoots the Hulk in the back of the head. Daredevil is cavalierly shunted aside as the man walks up, ricocheting bullets off the Green Guy's epidermal barrier of impregnable skin. Daredevil wades in buzzing around the Hulk like an athletic fly. He's got the Hulk's attention off the policeman, but the Hulk throws him away...
Daredevil drags himself to his feet. Cinematic cuts tell the story, looking not unlike five panels of rib balanced on the top half of the page. We have here: Matt lands on the top of a building, a closer-up look from a birds eye of him sprawled, then two panels from slightly different great distances above, looking down at him struggling to get up - and in the fifth panel, he's clenching his fist, a Miller allowance of blood running down from his nose. There's a watertower in the background of that panel! The Hulk rampages in the bottom half of the page - and then we are looking down on this long, sleek bus driving straight for him...
The impact throws Daredevil clear through the front window. The Hulk shreds the bus like a disappointing steel-ribboned Christmas present.
Here's history: In the gathered crowd, Ben Urich hears Heather Glenn gasp "Matt!"
(The next issue is Urich's expose.)
Miller, delineated beautifully by the enormously versatile Rubenstein, demonstrates Daredevil's insane acrobatic skill, though he's batted away again, this time through a fence. He lies in rubble and toppled trash. The Hulk again holds up a piece of huge debris, ready to crush him. Again, Murdock is appealing to the Hulk... The Hulk looks at him and with close to a comprehension and jumps away, roaring like a wild thing at what he almost did!
Daredevil is taken to hospital where he will receive Ben Urich's oral account of his findings next issue.
Nice to have an issue of Rubenstein's considerate inks. I can only wrack my brain trying to figure who else could possibly have inked the screeds of different artists so unifyingly on the MARVEL HANDBOOKS. The most faithful inkers I can think of generally are Dan Adkins and Mike Royer, and I can't see them, as much as I admire their work, being quite as effective.
Reading: I polished off the monster-sized SPIDERMAN ESSENTIALS vol. 9 and I'm about halfway through the first DOOM PATROL SHOWCASE to date. It looks like I'm on a reading streak of SGT ROCK though I don't have nearly enough of them - principally some 15c and 20c issues. I did read (from the ARCHIE AMERICANA SERIES) BEST OF THE FIFTIES Booth 2 which was great, though it's a thin volume for a hardback.
Listening: DAYDREAM NATION by Sonic Youth. They toured here not so long ago and performed their old album live, buttttt I missed it.
Watching: One doco after another.
RIP: David Carradine