I’ll admit, I was skeptical about picking this one up yesterday. Villain spinoff comics are often nothing more than cheap cash grabs, and I didn’t expect that Marvel’s Bullseye #1 would be any different from the likes of DC’s villains month from a few years ago that no one talked about. Yes, Bullseye is one of Daredevil’s most iconic foes and he’s been absent for a while; but could this top-notch assassin really carry his own series?
Fortunately though, this book proved me wrong in more ways than one. Combining top-tier talent and a solid premise, this oversized first issue has me stoked for the rest of this series and everything within the Running with the Devil crossover event.
As mentioned above, Bullseye has been absent for a while after a major fight with Daredevil a few years ago. Assumed dead, he made appearances in Mark Waid’s run as a mummified paralytic, barely hanging on to his life. It wasn’t until recently that The Hand restored him to his original state. Now that he’s back on the streets, Bullseye is thirsty for blood.
After a few easy jobs that leave him unsatisfied, he takes one from an old mob associate, who hires him to rescue his son from a rival gangster and take out said gangster. Yet while he’s supposed to do the job quietly, Bullseye is more unhinged and unpredictable than ever before. Meanwhile, an FBI agent seeks vengeance upon the notorious assassin for the murder of her husband. All of this happens with not even an appearance by Daredevil.
The most noticeable part of this comic is how stylish the art is. Penciller Guillermo Sanna and colorist Miroslav Mrva definitely pay homage to veteran Daredevil artist Bill Sienkiewicz (who coincidentally did one of this book’s variant covers), utilizing a dense color palette and tight frames. Whereas much of the Mark Waid/Chris Samnee run exhibits a more swashbuckler and fun aesthetic, this comic is filled with the spirit of Sienkiewicz, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. The panels swift and swerve like an old-school film noir. Next to the gruesome splash page at the end of the main issue, my favorite scene comes early on when Bullseye wreaks havoc upon a crowded street of pedestrians, simply by flicking paperclips at them from the top of a building. With his aim and precision, he reminds readers how he can turn almost any object into a weapon. It’s moments like these where you know you shouldn’t root for this guy, but you can’t help but keep turning the page.
In addition to the purely cinematic flare of the issue, writer Ed Brisson delivers an engaging story. It’s simple and straightforward, but the pacing and dialogue are each expertly handled. One would think that after enduring the hell that Bullseye went through and being given a second chance, he might give up the assassin life; but alas, he’s the same sadistic killer he’s always been. As such, Brisson simply has fun writing him and letting him run wild. Likewise, it’s easy for readers to get sucked in, despite the character’s blatant lack of morality.
The back of the book also contains an additional story by Marv Wolfman and Alec Morgan titled “If I Tell You.” While less interesting than the main story, it’s nonetheless a nice bonus which further showcases Bullseye’s appeal as an inexplicably loose cannon. The Running with the Devil event continues this month with Elektra #1, Kingpin #1 and the latest issue in Charles Soule’s Daredevil run. If they’re as good as this one, then you can count me in.