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Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Grant Morrison’s New X-Men are Great Comics in Different Ways

Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Grant Morrison’s New X-Men are Great Comics in Different Ways

My Favourite Marvel Runs: Frank Miller’s Daredevil & Grant Morrison’s New X-Men


Grant-Morrison-by-Frank-quitelyThere’s something going on at the House of Ideas that has me a little…perplexed. Let’s just say, for a guy who has a quarter of his body covered in Marvel comic tattoos it saddens me to have to dropped every Marvel comic from my grabs– except Marvel: Knights Spider-Man because Matt Kindt. Why you ask? Well that is a story for another time, let’s just say that as a storyteller myself, I enjoy letting my events unfold naturally, without crossover after crossover after god awful crossover. Seriously Marvel, enough.

Yet, this industry is always progressing and the era of the event will soon die out and lead us into another age of something or other most likely digital. Looking back, however, I became overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas of story lines and runs that are responsible for creating the comic fan you see before you. After skimming the pool of memories, two runs bubbled to the surface. One was already a classic by the time I picked up my first comic,and one is now considered a misunderstood modern masterpiece. I am referring to Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil and Grant Morrison’s polarizing franchise reboot New X-Men. Both couldn’t be more different in tone and style yet both are great examples of what drives me to comics. One, a heroes descent into a darkness that will surround him for years to come, and the other a celebration and a deconstruction of golden era joys.


Back in the early 80’s Daredevil was near cancellation. Frank Miller, who had been working as a penciller at the time, was growing frustrated with the direction the book had taken under Roger MacKenzie’s tenure. Jim Shooter, the editor and chief quickly appeased Frank and before anyone knew it, Frank was now headlining one of Marvel’s top tier books. By ignoring continuity and branching out on his own, Frank turned Daredevil into an anti-hero, a man burdened by the sins of his father, suffering from regret, loss and severe catholic guilt. He introduced Elektra, ninjas and a style that remains seminal to this very day.

More than anything however, Frank Miller’s run is timeless. His artistic style, while something of a parody now, is packed with a confidence that makes each panel as iconic as the character. The image of Bullseye impaling Elektra with her own sai in issue #181 is as haunting as it is beautiful. While many writers would successfully carry Matt Murdoch’s descent even further, none have come as close as Miller to defining what it is to be Daredevil. By ignoring continuity Frank Miller was able to bring Daredevil into a new generation,  and by embracing continuity Grant Morrison was able to this to New X-Men.

In just 42 issues, Grant Morrison was able to take X-Men, now redubbed as New X-Men, to new heights, by embracing the past and fearing for the future. When Morrison came onto X-Men, the series was tanking, on the brink of cancellation. With a major movie on the horizon, Marvel needed their mutants back on top. Morrsion, who had successfully transitioned JLA over at DC through the 90’s fallout was brought on to spice things up. Goodbye spandex, hello biker leather.


Despite your feelings about the leather, Morrison brought more than ‘tude. He introduced a new underlying mythos that honours Chris Claremont’s run, yet embraces the crumbling world around it. There are sentinels, the Phoenix and the Shi’ar, but there is also much more. There are new students, whose fear and paranoia of the outside world mirrors the paranoia of post 9-11 America. Magneto is no longer a sympathetic crony, but a megalomaniac whose archaic ideas of terrorism will bring about his own downfall. Morrsion took everything we loved about X-Men, cut the fat and marinated the rest in paranoia and LSD.

Yet at the time, Morrison’s run eventually fizzled out, at least in the eyes of the editors over at Marvel. Since hindsight is 20/20, we can give the benefit of the doubt to Marvel, who are notoriously protective of their characters. They cut Morrison’s run short, ended it with threads that still dangle to this day, and worse of all, retconned Magento back into a hero. While this is a shame, what we are left with is a run that is still loved/hated to this day. A polarizing piece of work created by a genius is the guise of a rock star and one of the finest X-stories of all time.

Thanks to Miller, Daredevil took heroes into the darkness of their hearts and souls. Thanks to Morrison, the public realized that despite the harsh realities of terrorism, there will always be a place for heroes. Two opposite works, yet two that have and will within stand the test of time.