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on 31 May 2007
First off to get the nit picking out of the way six months is way to long to wait for a book. Especially as some people waited far less time than I did for this volume. Just what is happening to Amazon these days? As to the book itself, what can I say other than buy it now. Even though Frank really does not get fully to grips with DD until half way through this book it is still a must buy. If you get this book you will truly understand what all the fuss about both Frank Miller and Daredevil himself is all about. The stories have depth and the art has soul. This book is a true introduction to the two legends that are FM and DD.
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on 3 January 2014
Frank Miller's influence on the character of Daredevil cannot be overstated. At the time he began working on the book, it was in a bad shape, almost epitomizing the issues most comics faced at the tail end of the Silver Age. Garish colours, stilted exposition and the active encouragement of wackiness were abound at the time, and Daredevil seemed to push this awkwardness even more than it's contemporaries. To get a real understanding of the intelligence, talent and skill Miller brings to the Man Without Fear over the course of these collected issues, one only has to contrast the first issue collected in this omnibus, which has Matt Murdock kidnapped by a conglomerate of what seem like talking animals, with the final issue, which consists of a quiet conversation between Murdock and a paralyzed Bullseye over a game of Russian Roulette. While I don't at all hold these stories as Miller's best work, or even his best take on the character of Daredevil, this collection is a veritable treasure trove of comics history, illustrating both the redefining of a marvel comics mainstay and the development of one of the medium's most influential writers.

The book begins with a series of issues scripted by Roger McKenzie, with Miller serving as artist only. The opening stories here are mediocre at best and espouse very well the myriad reasons the book was on the verge of cancellation. The stories lack much in the way of continuity between one another and instead offer concise one shots or two parters. These are usually self contained, often goofy stories that seem to hinge mostly on gimmicks, namely the inclusion of a Spider Man villain or other, more interesting guest stars from other slices of the Marvel Universe (like The Hulk) in a desperate grope for attention. Worse than that however, is that Miller's vision for the character doesn't really congeal with that of his writer's, which is pretty efficiently demonstrated just by taking a look at the cover of issue 163, which has a battered and bruised Daredevil making a final stand in a darkened alleyway, bringing Miller's noir sensibilities to the forefront, but having him fight The Hulk, a big green man child that embodies the pulpy, science fiction trappings of Silver Age comics.

However, upon Miller taking up the reins of the book, he immediately sets about making his mark. Daredevil's rogue's gallery was fairly horrendous at the time, including figures such as a talking ape and the book nabbing whatever Spiderman villain they could get their hands on. Miller reduces this to a core trinity, Bullseye, Elektra and The Kingpin. Elektra herself has since become synonymous with the character, as has Bullseye, but it was the stories here that really defined them. Positing Elektra as Daredevil's former lover for instance gave their confrontations a real sense of pathos and drama that was lacking in pretty much any other hero/ villain dynamic at the time. Bullseye, the most conventional of the three villains (with a costume and gimmick to call his own) stood out in the crowd with his characterisation as a complete and unflinching sociopath, the type of freak that could very conceivably dress up in a garish outfit, despite the more grounded take on Daredevil and his world. The Kingpin was, before his importing over to Daredevil, a novelty Spider-Man villain, that Miller himself concedes could easily have been renamed 'Fat Man'. Miller's take on the character as a duplicitous business man however set Daredevil apart as a hero that focused on fighting non costumed villains, in a universe swarming with garishly outfitted maniacs. This approach has really been vindicated in the following years by the fact Daredevil's villain selection never really expanded beyond the ones given focus here. Other minor villains like The Owl and even to an extent Stilt Man have been given either a gritty sensibility or had their silliness mocked to make them stand beside the Kingpin.

Miller isn't afraid to depict his protagonist as an immensely flawed individual either. While I wouldn't go as far as to call his portrayal of Murdock an 'Anti Hero', Matt is given a lot of very human flaws, making him immediately more human than the majority of heroes surrounding him at the time. He treats his girlfriend with cold disdain, ruining her business to ensure she marries him at one point. He attempts to murder one of his adversaries, albeit after saving his life earlier, only for that to cause innumerable other deaths later on in the collection. Miller has various characters make reference to Daredevil as flawed to drive the idea home. This was a layer of depth a superhero had never really received before. Other darker shades were incorporated into the world around Daredevil, most notably in The Hand, an army of ruthless ninja assassins that are shown to commit suicide upon defeat, really pushing the limits of what he could get away with in a superhero comic at the time.

Miller also established some continuity between issues, with stories bleeding into one another and creating long form events, like the Gang War Saga early in his run. There's also the development of ongoing themes, the most notable of which being Daredevil's controversial decision to save Bullseye's life early on in the book, which has a major effect on him and his supporting cast afterwards. Miller's stories read more like a layered, intricate crime epic than a bunch of loosely connected, twenty page fight scenes with some comedic relief surrounding them. There are also some one shot stories that really stand out though. The final issue collected here, 'Roulette' is perhaps one of the finest single issues of any comic book ever written, as well as serving as something of a precursor to Alan Moore's 'The Killing Joke'. Other highlights include a story where a hallucinating Bullseye starts seeing Daredevil everywhere he goes, and another that has Murdock going through a trippy journey of self discovery, which culminates in him fighting the physical manifestation of his own neurosis and hatred.

So Miller's run is fairly revolutionary and genre defining, but to review it on it's relevance and your ability to enjoy it today is another matter. As I said before, there are numerous stories here that are still very entertaining to read today, but Miller, despite his talent, can't immediately turn the book to gold in its first issue. There are a lot of growing pains throughout the stories collected here that make it much tougher to enjoy with a modern perspective. The biggest problem I faced with this collection was the over reliance on comic relief. Comedy is important as levity, especially in stories with characters and events as dark as these, however Miller's emphasis on comic relief actually undermines the drama a lot of the time. The most egregious tool employed is the character of Turk. Turk shows up in almost every issue with no reason but to fail at his goal in the most spectacular and farcical manner possible. Whether he's trying to hitch a ride on the Punisher's helicopter escape from jail, only to 'hilariously' tumble into the water, or riding into a noir story about gangsters and corrupt politicians with a robotic mech suit, it's amazing just how quickly my enjoyment of the tales here was sapped by this loathsome tool's presence, and it's no coincidence that the stories I enjoyed the most were by far those where he was either absent or only given a cursory cameo. Foggy Nelson is also rarely developed beyond his presence as a bumbling idiot, and the less said about one story where he infiltrates the Kingpin's empire through a series of whacky misadventures and coincidences, the better.

There are other flaws also. Despite what I remembered, Miller doesn't eschew the clunky exposition so common in silver age comics until much later into his run. There are entire pages dedicated to explaining the events of the previous issue in the most transparent manner possible. The most cringe inducing example being Daredevil interrogating one thug about the events of a few issues previous, to 'remind' him. Having Bullseye spout to the audience he can turn anything into a deadly weapon every single time he appears starts to grate pretty fast too. Also, as much as Miller added to Daredevil's rogues gallery, Murdock's supporting cast mostly falls flat. The stories here wisely introduced Stick, Murdock's childhood mentor, but that's about the most interesting addition made. As aforementioned, Foggy is reduced to little beyond comic relief. Murdock's love interest also was completely uninteresting, and also felt out of place against the angst Daredevil faced when dealing with Elektra. We see the pair kiss, fight for one another's lives despite their differences and have Murdock breaking down upon her murder, but also have a bland, one note love interest wedged in somewhere. Now to be fair, Miller does hint that this isn't the healthiest or most solid relationship, with Foggy commenting at one point how cold Matt seems towards her, but this idea seems extremely underdeveloped and I could have lived with having the entire subplots associated with this relationship completely removed. Miller would later do well in Born Again to instead focus on a love interest with genuine character and a relationship with Matt.

That's not to say however that the omnibus is crucially flawed. As I said, it's fascinating to observe how Miller managed to redefine a character that at one point was a struggling, low rent Spiderman rip off with a unique gimmick, into one of the most interesting figures in the Marvel Universe, as well as being able to see Miller's own unique style of writing develop, despite the problems he faces branching out from the character's corny and unfortunate past. It's just worthy of note that readers new to the character and Miller's take on him would be better served by starting with a more immediately polished and refined tale, namely 'Born Again' or ' The Man Without Fear'. This initial run features that type of brilliance, but more sporadically.

What is perhaps a more major flaw is the quality of the book itself. This is the first of Marvel's omnibus editions I've read that makes use of the thinner style of paper, which I'm not a big fan of. However, I'll admit this is largely a case of different strokes for different folks, and that the majority of readers won't have too much of a problem with it, if any. The issue is compounded by a few other niggling problems however. This edition makes use a computerized re coloring which is noticeable right off the bat if you take a look at some of the original artwork at the back of the book, or are familiar with older editions of these issues. The colour gradients used don't at all benefit or fit Miller's otherwise wonderful artwork, which made it, at least for me, a very disappointing alteration. There are also teeny niggling errors, like a typo in the introduction of the book, which I'll admit is a minute issue and one not really worth considering individually, but it paints an overall sloppy picture of the craftsmanship of the book. Omnibus editions are very pricey and generally from Marvel you can expect a good return, but this book felt like a bit of an exception.

Still, if you can look past those issues, you'll find a fascinating series of stories with a good deal of extra content to boot, including a lengthy and very insightful interview with Miller and Janson, as well as extra artwork, design concepts and covers. Overall, I'd recommend the book as a worthwhile purchase, and hope to see a reprint of the companion omnibus soon.
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on 24 June 2014
This book is amazing! As a massive Frank Miller fan I was eager to get this as I'd only read about his and Klaus Janson's time on the title and small details about the plots etc. I was never a huge fan of Daredevil but since I've started collecting the recent stuff by Mark Waid (which is excellent by the way) I felt I finally needed to get this omnibus and explore what I was told was some of the best stories and art in comics history. After completing it I was completely blown away! It has depth, emotion, a more adult feel and is really engaging. For me this is up there with Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing! Both writers redifined the characters they worked on!

Something that did surprise me was that some elements from the Frank Miller/Klaus Janson run were used in the Daredevil movie from 2003. Those elements though could not save it though because the film sucked. Heavily.

Oh well. I recommend this book to anyone who likes their comic books with more rounded characters and clever, engaging plots!
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on 6 October 2007
An expensive yet (if you know anything about the original Miller/Janson run) wonderful comic book purchase.

Here we get to watch (for the first time in comics), a character move from a typical spandex-clad, fighting hero with a secret identity to a thoughtful and troubled person who contemplates murder and love. But, and it's a big but, unlike many of these omnibus journeys, this one is pretty much fascinating and entertaining from the word go. Issue 163 was always superb (with the Hulk) and Miller's pencils here still make me sigh, yearn to be 12 again and try those acrobatic moves!

I could go on for ages, but the whole fantastic run is here; to sit with a beer and re-read the whole Elektra/Stick/Claw/Stone/Hand/Kingpin saga again and again is simply a joy. The run finishes with the 11 issue arc following the lost DD coping with Elektra's death and wanting revenge on her killer, the Zenith is reached in 191 (in my opinion the best comic book ever printed) where DD plays Russian roulette with a quadriplegic Bullseye.

Overall it's a big book (the spine is over 2" across and it's way over 2Kg -so no bedtime reading!) and it disappoints that the 'Devil's Advocate' letters pages are missing but the oversize, bright white pages, production values and extras (a good 60 odd pages) make up for this.

Yeah, I'm a DD, Miller and Janson fanboy - but many many people agree with me: DareDevil 158-191 and The Dark Knight 1-4 (Miller/Janson's next project) are amongst the best comics ever written -'nuff said!
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on 15 April 2016
Daredevil is amazing, he's like the marvel version of batman. The stories and illustration are incredible. I always lol when DD is leaning back, in the bar, sipping on juice, sneaking on his target- those priceless facial expressions.
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on 3 February 2014
I have been waiting for this book to be published most of my adult life. The complete Frank Miller / Klaus Jansson run on Daredevil collected in one Hardcover omnibus. At long last. Superb reading. Get it while you can!
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on 6 March 2015
Classic Miller - Nuff Said
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on 16 September 2014
I'm a massive daredevil fan. I was introduced to daredevil via Bendis phenomenal run followed by said. I'm now redoing the whole run from miller through Bendis, brubaker and Waid. Miller did a great job with daredevil and created him into what he is today. The only thing is that Bendis' run is just so much better but this is a must read and gave the stepping stone for Bendis to work on. Great book, we'll binded but not as good as Bendis.
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on 13 April 2015
kids love it
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on 4 May 2015
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