Daredevil just passed the 600 issues mark. Meanwhile, this site (very quitely) celebrated its 10th anniversary a little while back. The very first posts, three of them, went up in December of 2007. In March of 2008, I posted the next batch of posts and this site slowly started taking off. Well, in terms of readers anyway. I’ve never made any money off of this site, nor did I ever intend to. Anyway, I’m glad that I was able to get enough content up in the first eight years of blogging that there’s still been a lot for new visitors to discover during the last couple of years when I’ve been largely inactive.
This doesn’t mean that my life has been lacking in Daredevil. Just last week, I was invited back on the Fantasticast – for the sixth time! – to discuss an isssue of Marvel Two-in-One featuring Matt Murdock. As always, I had a great time recording with Steve and Andrew (listen to the end result here). If you have even the slightest interest in the Fantastic Four, I think you’ll find their podcast difficult to beat. It covers every FF appearance, in chronological order! I also co-authored a chapter for an upcoming Daredevil anthology, edited by Travis Langley. Daredevil Psychology: The Devil You Know will be released in June.
As many of you know, I’m also working on my own book, a little bit at a time. Things have been getting much more manageable since I finally spent the money on the Scrivener software, on the recommendation of the always helpful Antony Johnston. When you have a lot of sources to keep track of, with notes attached, it really helps. I’m also finding myself working on several chapters in parallel, which works fine when each chapter is really its own independent essay, and Scrivener also allows you to do just that quite easily.
Some time very soon, I’ll post a little bit about my work on this book. I’d be very interested to hear what people might best respond to in terms of content. Thus far, I’ve tried writing about the things I want to write about, based on the things I find interesting. That means that there’s quite a bit of science in there. And, time spent on explaining scientific concepts is obviously time not spent listing tidbits from the comics. These chapters become more and more focused on Daredevil as we move along from the core concepts to the specific concepts that are most relevant to Matt’s world, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover that I find difficult to skip because I really want people to understand why I arrive at my own particular interpretation of what makes sense for this character. What I’ve tried to do is use other Marvel characters as examples when Daredevil hasn’t been a good fit, and I hope that keeps people interested. Anyway, I’ll get back to that in my next post.
If you’ve read this far and are starting to wonder when I’m going to get to Daredevil #600, here’s a big plot twist for you: I haven’t read it yet. Nor have I read the ten or so issues leading up to it, though I have the whole pile of issues waiting for me in the next room. I felt kind of bad having to confess to this when I went on the Fantasticast podcast, and I feel even worse confessing to it here. Especially after that rather suggestive post title. But, the fact of the matter is that Daredevil has six hundred issues to his name, and I’m still a fan. And I guess that’s what I wanted to talk about.
A couple of years ago, just after season two of the Netflix show came out, I remember mentioning on Twitter that, one of these days, I should write a post about the emotional ups and downs I’ve felt experienced as a Daredevil fan. Because it’s been really rough emotionally at times. Probably ridiculously so, considering that we’re talking about a comic book superhero, and not anything that really matters that much in the real world. But what makes Daredevil so unusual in my own life is that I’m not naturally a “fannish” person. Don’t get me wrong. I have passions and interests, but they hardly ever revolve around famous people or properties. There are actors and musicians I appreciate more than others, but I never had a single poster of any of them growing up. Nor have I ever collected anything, or followed a particular sports team (and I actually quite like sports). There have been TV shows and movies that I’ve loved, of course, but never to the point I’ve seen in people who identify strongly with a particular fandom. When I fell head over heals for Daredevil, more than a decade ago, it was quite unexpected. And I’ve never felt that way for anything else since.
The problem with being attached to anything the way I’ve been attached to Daredevil, is that you tend to become a bit possessive of “your” character, and your own interpretation of him. The farther back in time I’ve followed Daredevil, the less important it’s been for me that the character on the page adhere to my own standards of what is both “reasonable” and more or less in character. That’s why Daredevil landing a spaceship in the middle of Central Park – guided by the absence of heartbeats! – is just funny to me, while seeing him read a computer screen by touch thirty years later is not. Not only is it not funny; when I first read that issue, I was devastated. The same goes for certain other events in the history of the comic that are not at all restricted to Matt’s senses, but have to do with his portrayal in general. There have been those runs when I’ve just not been able to relate to Matt at all, and there have been others where he’s come very close to the Matt Murdock that’s in my head, one that I’ve come to form a close relationship with despite the fact that I’m certainly not delusional and well aware that he’s a fictional being.
The problem with being too invested in a character is that, like with any relationship, you risk being hurt. And, when you have a property like Daredevil that is continually being recreated and reimagined, not only by creators, but by fans as well, yours is not the only version of the character. The “risk” of others having a different idea about this character than you do is very real. Which is fine, really. But if your devotion to a character (and for me, this blog is obviously a manifestation of my personal devotion) is the same thing that causes you to actually, you know, feel things that might put you off, you have a bit of a problem.
What I’ve been struggling with over the last couple of years has been that balance between caring enough and caring too much. And, in many ways, my “crisis of faith” has been brought about by the Netflix show, which debuted exactly three years ago today. Which is ironic considering that 1) I think it’s extremely well-made, not to mention well-acted, and 2) it actually generally does a very good job of hitting many of the notes I care most about. Yes, the tail end of season two was painful as hell to watch if you’re someone who cares about Matt’s relationships with people other than Elektra, but overall, I think it’s a good take on the character. Considering all the ways a live action show about Daredevil could have played out, the Netflix version really does a good job overall.
However, when you take a property like Daredevil from the comicverse, where he is being read by roughly 30,000 people in the U.S., and probably twice that worldwide (though I must admit that I don’t have the most recent numbers), to a platform where he is being watched by millions, that sense of the here and now being more important than that which is obscure and in the past is magnified. For most people, the Netflix show inevitably represents the dominant take on the character, the one that people will be most familiar with. This has had the effect that anything short of perfection, as measured by my own and very personal standard, has had a completely blown-out-of-proportion effect on me.
With season one, in particular, I got over whatever these minor transgressions were. And, I got over them pretty quickly. With season two it was tougher, even though I think that season two was actually better in many ways. When it comes to The Defenders, I prefer not to think about it, though the things I didn’t like about the show generally had little to do with the portrayal of Matt/Daredevil specifically. Either way, it’s been hard for me to look at Netflix Daredevil as just another iteration of the character, the way I’ve been able to do with runs of the comic.
So, even when the Netflix take on the character actually gets most things right in my book, I’ve sort of let that get in the way of my “inner” Matt and allowed minor details to dictate how I should feel. Add to this the disappointing last few issues of the Waid/Samnee run (I still rank the first 80 percent of it among my favorite runs), and the complete lack of emotional connection I’ve felt with the Soule run, and it’s been pretty much inevitable that, as soon as I allowed myself to back away and take a break, other things would come along in my life and fill the void to the extent that it takes a conscious effort to carve out the time it takes to blog on a somewhat regular basis. And, in order to do that, a certain amount – the right amount – of passion is required.
I don’t know if it’s because spring is in the air (really, Swedish winters are no joke), but something has changed over the last few weeks that really makes me long for a return. One way I can tell is that I even feel like writing fan fiction again, something I haven’t really done in the last six years or so. Yes, at one point in time, when I had a substantially lighter work load, I actually wrote tons of it. I’ve never advertised it much here because it felt like I’d be exposing more of myself than I felt comfortable with at the time. This is something different than being able to work on my (science) book, which doesn’t require as much of an emotional investment as an intellectual one.
By this time next week, I may very well have caught up on my reading of the Soule run, which I hope I’ll be able to approach a little differently than I have thus far. I’m also looking forward to writing a follow-up post to last year’s “hit” post “The 50+ ways in which Marvel’s Daredevil reminds you that Matt is blind (for real)” which only listed examples from season one. I’ve had several people ask me to cover season two and Defenders as well. Another thing on my to do list is writing about season two of Jessica Jones, as underwhelming as it was. Because I’ve missed this. I’ve missed writing. I’ve even missed writing in English specifically (not something I do on a daily basis, outside of Twitter). And, as much as this post may seem like a meandering mess, just stringing this many words together feels like real progress.
Thanks for reading and an even bigger thank you to all of you who have reached out with words of encouragement. Let’s get this show back on the road.