Daredevil #219. It’s pretty much a simple one-off, and Daredevil never makes an on-panel appearance. Even the unnamed main character, who is almost definitely supposed to be Matt Murdock, has little to no bearing on the events pictured. In simplest terms, it’s not a Daredevil story at all. It’s the story of a set of dominoes disguised as a town, and the stranger is just what tips it over. He comes in, hears a few stories while the plot happens around him, and leaves.
And that’s why I love it, that sense of inevitability. The plot is pretty much set on track when the Stranger walks into town. He is the reason Costello and Ma Stillwell have Cosie killed, and distracts Costello enough for The Biker to survive, but that’s really it. The Biker would have done what he did whether or not Daredevil had been there to talk to, the fact Costello left him alive being the only important part.
With a story like this, it’s the art that does a lot of the work. And John Buscema does that work well. I’d like to spotlight one sequence here.
I love the way that basically the same pose says so much about these 2 characters. The first in panel 2, the dead cop whose murder started this whole mess, he’s standing tall, well-postured, smiling warmly, holding the doorknob so as not to hit the lamp. He’s honorable, considerate. Contrast that with the Stillwell boy there in panel 4, slouched, smirking, pushing the door out of his way. He’s neither. He’s downright sinister, and on closer inspection, at least a little snakelike.
And this. This really shouldn’t work, due to, well, the sizes of the vehicles involved, but Buscema sells it as only a man who made his name drawing Conan comics could.
One of the reasons I love this issue is it was pretty much my first Daredevil issue. I read it first in a Frank Miller’s Daredevil Miscellanea omnibus from my library, which had Daredevil 226 and Born Again and Love And War and Man Without Fear after it. This and 226 are the only ones of those mentioned I have since bought as single issues. 226 is also a great overlooked story as well, and Love and War doesn’t get its due nearly often enough, but this one will always stand as the best among those 3 for me.