The deadliest of killers, the most commonplace item is a weapon in Bullseye’s hands. One of the most respected supervillains of comicbooks, Bullseye is mainly known as a Daredevil foe. While he appeared in earlier issues of the series, Bullseye mainly becomes a force to be reckoned with after Frank Miller took over the title and turned Bullseye into a twisted psychopath obsessed with Daredevil to the point of mania.
Little is known about Bullseye as a person that he has not contradicted at some point or other. Raised in poverty, he escaped his abusive father and was nearly a major league baseball pitcher before he murdered a batter on the opposing team out of sheer boredom. Having watched his father burn to death from a house fire unhinged his already twisted mind and created a preoccupation with death that has stuck with him ever since… or he killed his father himself… or he just ran away from home. In any case, his skill at killing got him noticed by the NSA who recruited Bullseye as a special ops agent in Nicaragua, training the Contras. Bored again, he instead decided to set up his own operation by seizing control of the local cocaine smuggling ring. This only attracted attention of the Punisher and brought the two men face to face for the first time. During their battle, Bullseye dared Frank Castle to shoot him by drawing a bullseye on his forehead.
Arrested by the DEA, Bullseye was again recognized as an asset rather than a risk and given the mission of infiltrating the operations of the Kingpin of NYC. Given a costume decked out with bullseye symbols, he crossed paths with the biggest annoyance to the Kingpin, Daredevil.
After facing off against Daredevil on live TV and failing to kill the red-suited hero, Bullseye became driven toward defeating his target. Even after he was hospitalized and no longer employed by Kingpin (and presumably no longer part of a government-sanctioned sting operation), he tried to kill Daredevil over and over with no success. Part of the problem seems to be that while Bullseye is incredibly well-skilled as a fighter, Daredevil is an cauldron of emotional angst, an energy that he utilizes as fuel for his battles. In any case, Bullseye only received more grief for his efforts and additional hospitalizations. Each time he resurfaced, his incredible skill at using any item around him as a killing tool was shown to be nearly miraculous. Anything from a pencil to an orange seed was deadly in his possession.
Finding himself replaced by Elektra did not sit well with Bullseye and during their rooftop battle he killed the beautiful assassin with her own weapon. His spine was later broken by Daredevil for this offense and each battle between the two thereafter has been more violent than the last, with one occasion involving Daredevil literally branding Bullseye with his trademark symbol using a nearby rock.
Like many criminals, Bullseye’s luck turned around after the Superhero Registration Act was put into place. The business of hunting down rogue heroes who refused to registered fell to incarcerated villains as even heroes who agreed to register were reluctant to turn on their friends (at first). Bullseye’s skill was again recognized as a unique asset and he was assigned to the Thunderbolts as their ‘secret weapon.’ He was never officially part of the team, presumably because his former exploits were so public that he was readily known as a murderer.
When Norman Osborn killed the Skrull Queen on live television as the world’s heroes stood by powerless, Bullseye’s luck changed again for the better. Resenting the superhero world in general and drunk with power, Osborn created his own Avengers team, dressing up villains as respected members of the superhero group. Bullseye became the archer Hawkeye and was seen in public acting the part of the loudmouthed wise-cracking bowman who never missed. The cover was shaky at best and Bullseye has had trouble keeping his homicidal tendencies in check. During the battle of San Francisco between the Avengers and X-Men, he turned to a member of the police assigned to quell the riots with a gleam in his eye, looking for sense of camaraderie as an official sanctioned to fire on civilians. The moment was awkward to say the least.
Since both Osborn and Bullseye have a history of working for the shadowy side of the US government, I suppose it was only a matter of time before the two of them ended up on the same team.
Bullseye’s role as an Avengers has been a key component to the success of the Dark Reign storyline for me. Dark Reign has shown how much control and power heroes have simply by being trusted by the people that they watch over. During his time as Hawkeye, Bullseye has murdered several civilians, gotten caught on film and still has not been charged for his actions. This is in part due to his boss Osborne pulling strings behind the scenes but it is also in large part simply due to the fact that he has been sold to the public as an Avenger.
As the New Heroic Age approaches, it is clear that Bullseye’s time on top is nearly over. What is next is unclear. Despite his portrayal in the Daredevil film from 2003, there is a possibility that a sequel may be produced… making it very possible that he would return. Each of the amazing writers to work on the Daredevil comic book from Frank Miller to Brian Michael Bendis to Ed Brubaker and now Andy Diggle have seen the potential of this character and used him to great affect. I can’t see that being missed by whoever mounts a second Daredevil film.
The deadliest killer in the Marvel Universe, Bullseye is in the end just a man with a million ideas on how to kill people and a powerful urge to do so. In a medium crowded with super-powered folk, aliens and mystics, it’s chilling that such a character exists.
That’s funny books for you.