Looking to pick a cover this week, I sat here in my room for over an hour going through my endless mental rolodex of favorite covers as John Coltrane played in the background. Now that I’ve set the extremely pretentious scene, let me explain how and why I came to choose Daredevil 181. I found myself going back and forth between a big two book, or an older indie books just to get some globalization in this series. It got to a point, however, that I kept coming back to daredevil; specifically, Frank Miller’s Daredevil. After taking far too long to come to the realization that it has to be Daredevil, the choice was obvious.
There isn’t an issue of Daredevil more important than 181. I’m going to say spoilers, but it’s been over 30 years, so if you’re upset about it… wow. This is the issue that gives us maybe the most iconic scene in Daredevil, certain the most that doesn’t include Matt Murdock himself, in the death of Elektra at the hands of Bullseye. It also happens to be, in my opinion, the greatest single issue of a Marvel comic ever. It’s one of the closest stories we get to a Marvel evergreen, with Born Again and Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run. Enough rambling about this stories greatness, let’s take a look at the cover itself.
Let’s look beyond the iconic Elektra vs Bullseye battle. In the background, Daredevil stands posed for a fight, looking just as shocked as you’d expect from the fight in the foreground. That said, the lighting here is superb. Even though the highlight and shadow don’t make logistical sense, it heightens the drama. The shock of Murdock bleeds through the cover. When you look at Elektra and Bullseye, however, there’s an overwhelming sense of calm. It’s as if the two combatants know exactly what they’re getting into, and only one will leave the fight. It’s just excellent rendering and storytelling from Miller and Janson. This is something we don’t see a lot of in modern covers.
Say what you will about my reasoning for picking this cover, but it’s clearly one of Marvel’s best. Yes, the new season of the titular character’s show just came out on Netflix. And yes, I may have just finished my reread of Ed Brubaker’s criminally underrated run on the character; but you could ask me any time, and I would pick this cover from all other Marvel books. When recommending comics to those who’ve never approached the medium, I would always recommend Frank Miller’s Daredevil; and, point to this cover as an example.