There and Back Again selects a character to highlight, then showcases iconic stories and moments within that character’s history.
Written By: Frank Miller
Art By: Frank Miller
Published: February 1983, by Marvel Comics
What’s happening everyone, I hope things are going wonderfully, and your comic experiences have been great. For me, this week has been leading up to one monumental moment: Friday, March 18th. What’s so special about that date? A little something called, Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix. That’s right, tomorrow, my morning will consist of coffee with the wife, then, a Daredevil induced coma wherein I spend the next 12 hours screaming exclamations of joy at my computer. As a celebration of what tomorrow will be, today we’re discussing one of my favorite, possibly my all-time favorite issue of Daredevil, the famous #191 of 1983, often referred to as, “Roulette.”
What makes this particular issue of Daredevil a standout amongst the others? In this single issue, we see a side of Matt Murdock and Daredevil that no one had ever seen before. A man confronted with the realities of putting on a mask, and fighting back against the horrors of life. Matt’s forced to answer a question posed on the cover, “How does a man search for his own soul?”
In this issue our hero is having a moment, in the hospital, with the now paralyzed Bullseye. This “moment” is, in actuality, a game of Russian Roulette with the bed ridden villain. That’s right, our hero has a .38 caliber revolver in hand, and is squeezing the trigger while going back and forth between his own head, and Bullseye’s. Unable to move or speak, Bullseye can do nothing but lay, listen, and hope Daredevil isn’t as crazy as he appears to be at the moment.
This sets the scene for what’s to come, as Daredevil swings the gun around and points it at Bullseye’s face. With a finger on the trigger, DD starts a story, a monologue, broken only by the empty click made each time the trigger is squeezed. Our hero reveals to his enemy that, as a masked hero, events often play out in ways he wasn’t ready to face.
Click, two chambers down, four to go.
Daredevil continues by telling Bullseye about a case that lead him to a young boy named Chuckie, the son of a client. This young boy has developed a rather significant fascination with Daredevil, and as Matt witnesses this, he feels flattered. Sure the boy seems to be somewhat obsessed, but Matt passes this off as an over active imagination, and even finds it somewhat endearing. This moment of flattery, DD tells Bullseye, is mistake number one.
Click, chamber three empty. Three more to go.
Matt decides he wants to investigate Daredevil’s affects on young Chuckie, and decides to pay the boy a visit, in costume, at school. It’s at this point, back in the hospital with gun in hand, that Daredevil states, this visit with the boy was mistake number two. Flashing back to his interaction with Chuckie, we see the two flipping over rooftops through Hell’s Kitchen, having a very real bonding moment.
Click, no bullet in chamber four. Two more remain.
Lastly, mistake number three takes place when Daredevil confronts Chuckie’s dad who’s being blackmailed because it turns out he’s been embezzling money from his company. Daredevil intervenes, easily beating the crap out of Chuckie’s dad and the blackmailer. Unfortunately, because of Chuckie’s obsession with Daredevil, he snuck a ride on the back of his dad’s car, and was witness to the entire event. We learn, that although Chuckie has an obsession with Daredevil, deep down, more than he wants to be Daredevil, he wants to be like his dad…a criminal.
This one event, as Daredevil recounts it to Bullseye, causes our hero to ask himself, “Am I fighting violence – or teaching it?”
Matt puts the gun to his own head, pulls the trigger, and with an empty click, we’re brought to the final chamber of the gun. Very calmly Daredevil voices his feelings toward it all. His seething hatred of Bullseye. His desire to see this man, who took Elektra’s life some months ago, dead and gone. He points the gun at Bullseye, and in one of the tensest moments I’ve encountered in comics, we see Daredevil giving his final words to Bullseye.
“When, at last, at long last, I’ve got you set squarely in my sights…and I smell your fear…and it is sweet to smell…when it comes to that one final, fatal act of ending you…”
Without spoiling the end I’ll say that the final page of this book answers the initial question given. We learn how Matt Murdock, the Daredevil, protector of Hell’s Kitchen, responds to, “How does a man search for his own soul?”