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On being a Daredevil fan, 600 issues later

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.

Matt explains his radar sense, from Daredevil #1

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.

Daredevil's costume. Image from the trailer for The Defender.

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.

Daredevil jumps over a statue in Daredevil #26, by Stan Lee with art by Gene Colan

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.

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.

9 comments

  1. Hi Christine,

    Great post, as always. Your comment about the Soule run is exactly how I’ve felt from his very first issue. There’s something missing — an element of humanity is how I see it — that Waid knew how to write beautifully, while not sacrificing the action. Nor have I enjoyed the dull palette that has defined Garney’s art in this run. Everything seems dull, even with DD back in red.

    I’m so glad you mentioned the end of the Waid/Samnee run, because it felt to me like it all wrapped too quickly. When Mark was at the Baltimore Comic-Con just after leaving DD, I asked him at a panel whether there was more he wanted to say in the comic because of that somewhat abrupt ending. He said yes, kind of laughed, and left it at that. I got the feeling he didn’t want to go into more detail, so I didn’t ask a follow-up.

    But 52 years after buying my first issue (#16, Enter Spider-Man!), I’m not about to stop collecting. And I’ve probably got more Daredevil artwork and paraphernalia on the walls and shelves than ever before, so why stop now???!!!

    You should come over for another Con visit!!!

    Steve

  2. Fandom is a funny beast – look at the reaction to The Last Jedi – but sometimes you need to walk away to come back. That’s healthy I think. I hope you enjoy the Soule run (I LOVE it!) and I hope that this is a fresh new beginning for your love of Matt Murdock.

  3. Hi Christie,
    Seeing a post from you after a long silence brought a smile to my face.
    I agree with all you wrote, except for the fact I like Soule’s run and I relate to it more than the end of Waid’s run (which I loved during the first 15 issues after shadowland that I hated). It might not be strong on the emotional aspect but the action and suspense is great!
    I also am happy to read you might be returning to publish your fan fiction. I’ve followed it when it came out – and just a few months ago I enjoyed rereading Lost and Found.
    However, no pressure and thank you for your great work from a silent follower.
    Ziva

  4. In today’s world of comic books, I have found it is difficult to read a comic book each time it comes out. The stories are so decompressed I end up saving a pile of them and reading them as a whole. I know this is not a new concept in comic books but it really changed my approach to reading them as I did when I was younger. For me the jury is still out on the current Charles Soule run. But I endure. Daredevil has always been one of my favorites and at this stage my favorite. Glad to see your post. Thanks I did read issue 600 and that is all I will say about it was that I read it in respect to comic book fans.

  5. Not much to say, Its nice to see you back, I thought Tomp was a closed chapter on your life. Take care Christine.

  6. Hi Christine,

    Not only is it great to see you post again, what a wonderful post at that.

    I totally understand where you are coming from. For me, I had a very similar experience with perhaps the only character in fiction that rivals Matt for my admiration, Luke Skywalker. Since I was 10 (I’m 31 now) he has been, in my eyes, the ideal hero who embodies the ideals of hope , love and optimism. When I was younger I had read much of the EU novels that took place after Return of the Jedi and while they had flaws, and sometimes many of them, that was the Luke I imagined in my mind. Long story short The Last Jedi was the first time I honestly thought about walking out of a movie. That wasn’t “my” Luke on screen and it was crushing. I don’t want realism in Star Wars, its a fairy tale. Matt’s where I go for realism. I now have little interest in the franchise. I’m hoping like you I can come back to it in time.

    As for Soule’s run, while I have enjoyed parts, in my opinion there is something missing and that something is Matt’s meaningful relationships with others. He has little interaction with Foggy and Matt is perhaps spent the longest time without being in a romantic relationship. I’m over Blindspot as well. Lastly the art has not won me over especially compared to the amazing artists that have worked on DD.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  7. It really is a pleasure to read a new post from you Christine! All of us here are connected by our love of the character of Matt Murdock, and sometimes it is fun just to hear a fellow fan express their thoughts and feelings on the current state of that character. I really want to say thanks for creating this blog to give us fans of old horn head a place to come and read and express our own thoughts and opinions! I think it is a testament to the character that even after over 50 years and 600 issues we can still debate, discuss and explore different aspects and interpretations. I think we have all suffered similar issues after spending so much time with a particular character or mythos that we come to get comfortable with our own interpretation or voice of the character, and can be put off when it is not followed, or if the character is taken down a difficult road. But it is great that Daredevil is getting higher profile attention from a mostly very well done TV show. And one of the best aspects about comics, and the different properties that are based off them, is that they are continuous collaborative creations. We can enjoy the things we agree with and debate the things we don’t, and there is always the next creative team waiting around the next corner. Look at how much of an upswing we got from the 2003 movie to the Netflix show. In the meantime we get to enjoy each others insights and opinions on a very interesting mythos. Welcome back Christine, I look forward to your continued thoughts and future discussions.

  8. Thank you, love this site!

  9. The Soule run has definitely gotten better – or else I just started enjoying it more when he got back in the red suit. “Razzle dazzle.”

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