Wacky power #15 – Heat sensing and the groovy stuff you can do with it

Here’s an example from Daredevil #131, by Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown (with Klaus Janson on inks), of Daredevil doing something he’s presumably quite good at: detecting residual heat. We’ve read about it in the Marvel Universe Handbook or on DD’s page on Wikipedia, the part about how he can detect changes in heat and tell how long someone’s been dead or when an appliance was last used. Still, you rarely see any of this actually happen in the comic.

In all honesty, I don’t find an increased ability to gauge heat to be particularly wacky. Some people are very good at judging distances, or how much something weighs. Some people have perfect pitch. I think this might be intended to work along those lines. The part that gets a little wacky is when this ability is actually put to work. Below, we see DD determine that the murderer in question (who happens to be Bullseye in his very first appearance, by the way) was wearing gloves because there is no heat residue on the pen he used to write something on the wall next to the victim.

Okay, let’s back up a minute here… Just how long does someone’s heat residue stay on something they’ve touched? Not very long. Also, what kinds of gloves is Bullseye wearing? As long as they’re not mittens, wouldn’t the outside of the glove be almost the same temperature as Bulleye’s hand? The surface would most certainly be hotter than the surrounding air temperature. But, you say, it may not be as high as if he hadn’t been wearing gloves at all. Possibly. The only problem is that we don’t know what kinds of gloves he was wearing. Also, we don’t know where his hand had been just before he wrote that note. Wrapped around a cold beer? Could be.

Okay, I won’t nitpick too much, but being able to gauge temperature just doesn’t strike me as a very useful skill considering all the other factors involved. That didn’t keep this skill from being featured in the director’s cut of the Daredevil movie where Matt reaches up to touch a lamp, presumably to determine how long it’s been out. Again, this would depend on how quickly the surface of the lamp cools down and even the wattage of the light bulb. And, once it’s gone cold, that’s it. Yes, I know I’m a geek. It’s just that the things Daredevil can do with this dubious skill of his strike me as a little, well, wacky…

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.


  1. I would be much happier with “He must have been wearing gloves – I can’t smell the residue of oil from his fingers on the pen!” I think the ability to judge heat is quite plausible, but I agree with you – not very useful in this situation. (Then again, I have a perfect sense of direction, which weirds people out sometimes, but I never get lost!)

  2. I have a perfect sense of geekness.

    Well, I thought I did.

    After reading this post I see that you my friend, you are the geek of all geeks!

    Congrats….and nice post Christine. Being a DD fan I love reading your stuff.

  3. @lilacsigil: Yes, I thought about that too. That would have been a perfectly “real science” compliant way of doing it.

    @Jon: Yes, I’ve decided to embrace my geekiness. Most of the more interesting people I know are geeks so I’m in good company. 🙂 And, thanks for being a fan of the blog.

  4. Hi, Christine, just made a comment on your 3 July post about Matt’s heightened senses. 🙂

  5. And does DD know how long it’s been since the message was written? If not, how could he determine how much the amount of heat residue left on the pen correlates to whether or not the killer wore gloves?

    Even assuming the amount of heat coming through Bullseye’s gloves is enough to also elevate the temp of the pen, if it’s been more than a few minutes since the killing, much less the hours it’s probably been, who cares? The pen would be back to room temperature.

    Sloppy. I thought it was sloppy when I read this scene when the issue was new on the stands, and I think it’s sloppy today.

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