Daredevil’s origin is easily the most repeated of any superhero, ever (even more than Green Lantern). Due to weird editorial mandates that have somehow managed to live on to today, nearly every issue of Daredevil covers his origin. Sadly, most people only know him from the poor Ben Affleck movie. Have no fear, the Credible Hulk is here to right the wrongs of comic book movie past. Who is the real Matt Murdock?
The perpetual B-list hero first saw publication in 1964 with his own book. His creator credits are a little murky, with Stan Lee and Bill Everett taking top billing. Comics legend Jack Kirby is credited with some input, designing his main staple billy club. Originally, Daredevil wore a yellow, black and red costume (his fathers colors). Artist Wally Wood changed that in issue #7, introducing his now classic red costume. Eventually, Gene Colan took over art duties with issue #20. Colan is largely responsible for many Daredevil character designs, as he drew the series for nearly 80 issues.
As a child, Matt Murdock lived with is father, boxer “Battling Jack” Murdock. The two lived in Hell’s Kitchen (otherwise known as Midtown) in Manhattan, New York. One day Matt saves a blind man from an oncoming truck. The truck, carrying radioactive waste, spilled some on Matt’s eyes. He was permanently blinded, but his other senses were superhumanly heightened. He also gained a bat like echo location sense of sight, allowing him to still somewhat see. Jack came out of retirement to earn money to take care of them. Refusing to throw a fight, he was murdered.
Aside from his senses, Daredevil is a superior martial artist, having trained in a variety of styles. This, combined with his acrobatics makes him a unique hero. His billy club, with a seemingly impossible amount of uses is ever by his side. Somehow during his life time of martial arts training, Matt managed to attend college for several years, becoming a lawyer. He only represents clients he knows to be innocent, and is often seen defending fellow heroes.
Matt has a plethora of supporting characters that often make appearances. While he has plenty of superhero friends, Black Widow, Echo, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, etc., it’s the other characters that frequent his title that have helped define him. There’s Stick, Matt’s sensei, Ben Ulrich, reporter for the Daily Bugle and one of his best allies, and of course, Foggy Nelson, Matt’s best friend and law partner. Then there are his love interests, which are many. Of them, two stand out above the rest, Karen Page and Elektra Natchios. The former, his true love who died at the hands of perpetual villain Bullseye, brings out another defining characteristic of Matt’s, catholic guilt.
When talking about Daredevil, there are two creative runs that are always mentioned. Frank Miller and Brian Michael Bendis. Miller added the martial arts aspect to Daredevil, creating Stick, and of course, Elektra. This run completely changed the character, as the ninja/assassin aspects have stuck with him since. He also brought then primary Spider-Man villain Kingpin to the forefront of Matt’s antagonists. The one thing his run is most remembered for was the doomed love with Elektra, who was also killed by Bullseye. Miller created this character to kill her. Marvel editorial brought her back to life some 10 years later, because comic book deaths don’t matter.
Bendis’ run however, is widely considered not only one of the best Daredevil stories, but one of the best in comics, period. Bendis, along with long time partner Alex Maleev, completely deconstructed the character, dragging him down further and further. His story ended with a major bombshell, his identity publicly revealed, with him caught and put in jail. At least they didn’t magic this away. Eventually Matt escaped (under writer Ed Brubakers guidance), as the Punisher allowed himself to be capatured, going into jail to free him. Matt left the country. During Civil War, there was a Daredevil running around, but no one knew his identity (it was Iron Fist!). Then Shadowland happened, but we shouldn’t speak of it. Seminal writer Mark Waid is currently helming the character, and is on his way to creating what is quickly becoming a third quintessential run with artist Chris Samnee.
Daredevil has made a few appearance outside of comics aside from the movie. A few animated appearances in the 90’s Spider-Man cartoon, and a playable character in Lego Marvel Heroes, Marvel vs Capcom 3, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. In a not intentionally funny appearance, he was also on the live action Hulk series in 1989. In 2015 he’ll star in a new Marvel show on Netflix, along with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones.
Daredevil has long been one of my favorite characters. While some of the best stories have come from writers putting him through the ringer, there’s still plenty of lighthearted Daredevil stories around (Mark Waid).
What’s your favorite Daredevil story? Excited for the new show? Comment below!
Bios = a lot of work.