No Drugs Allowed: Daredevil #167 Comics Code Truth Uncovered

Was the original story for Daredevil #167 (Nov 1980) pulled by Marvel due to the Comics Code? According to Brian Cronin of Comic Book Resources, this comics industry legend is true!

As part of their “Comic Book Legends Revealed” series, CBR has investigated some of the most popular myths and urban legends surrounding the comic book industry. Speaking with fans and creators to uncover the truth, this week they take on the myth that Frank Miller’s first solo issue as both writer and artist of Daredevil (what would become issue #168) was moved up due to the Comics Code.

According to Cronin, “What happened was that the story that was scheduled to run in that issue was censored by the Comics Code. Miller’s final story with the previous writer on the book, Roger McKenzie, was going to be a two-parter in #167-168 dealing with drugs in schools.”

As we know, the topic of drugs was a particularly sensitive topic for the CMAA and the Comics Code; publishers like Marvel and DC famously petitioning on several occasions to have their issues involving drugs not pulled from the stands. Although drugs were not explicitly included in the list of prohibited subjects in the original code, general consensus placed the discussion of drugs under General Standards — Part C, “All elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the code, and are considered violations of good taste or decency, shall be prohibited.”

This being said, in light of sensitive nature of the subject matter, Marvel pulled the original Roger McKenzie story and used filler for #167. Interestingly, the original story would see the light of day roughly one year later in Daredevil #183-184 (albeit slightly altered). In a case of serendipity, though, what was in effect a sign of the times, this simple act of censorship ended up opening the door to one of the most vocal supporters of free speech: Frank Miller began his iconic debut run of Daredevil with issue #168, eventually becoming a renown comics creator — and staunch supporter of CBLDF!

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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!