Finding “forever” Daredevil

PSA: I know many of you might see a fight to get Daredevil back (in some form, under some kind of deal with some network) to be a lost cause. However, those of us who started the #RenewDaredevil effort are still at it. This week is cast appreciation week, and you can read about it (and other things going on) on the website.

Regardless of how you feel about the cancellation and any campaign efforts tied to it, I do want to tell you about the fundraising effort to benefit the Foundation Fighting Blindness that was set up to celebrate Charlie Cox’s birthday on Saturday. He even donated to it himself!

Dealing with the damn cancellation

When the news first came that Netflix (pretty much single-handedly, it appears) had canceled Daredevil after three seasons, I took the news relatively well. I remember thinking that “at least we had a good ending that left everyone we care about alive and back together in the end.” Still, having been relatively optimistic about the prospects for at least a fourth season, I had an “aw, damn” moment, before going about my day.

After that though, during the second day post-cancellation, a big void gradually started up inside. Two weeks on, I’m still grappling with it even though life obviously moves on, and there are obviously real-life issues that do overshadow the Daredevil cancellation.

Still, it’s rough. I think it started with just the thought that we would never see Matt moving back into his apartment. It sounds like a silly little thing, but from that grew a sense of grief over the lost opportunities of having Matt, Foggy, and Karen get at least one season of actually working together.

I don’t think any of us are deluded enough to think that Daredevil would be devoid of conflict (something needed for any compelling story), but Matt would at least be operating from a new sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I would have loved to see that.

As some of you know, I’ve been struggling with my commitment to both the show and the comics before, which lead to a long hiatus. The end of season two left me pretty broken, to be honest, but the miracle that was season three seemed to not only deliver the redemption story I had been longing for, but in so doing, actually shed much needed light on Matt’s previous willingness to walk away from his civilian life and the friends in it. Everything was put right, and elevated the entire show, from beginning to its apparent end. And, showrunner Erik Oleson became someone I fully trusted to do this cast of characters right.

Allowing myself to get excited about season three, ahead of its release, got me back into blogging again. Now, though, I’m unsure of where to go next. You see, there’s a reason that this site has come to be solely focused on the Netflix show(s), to the extent that I’ve been posting much at all since Daredevil season two. I simply haven’t enjoyed the most recent run of the comics.

Why I can’t get with the comics right now…

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the current mindwipe status quo that, for much of the first couple of years of the Soule run, left Matt Murdock taking a back seat to the Daredevil identity, which is never something I’ve enjoyed. Sure, Matt was there, but surrounded by people we’ve never seen before and seemingly without a personal life.

That turned around over the last year or so when Foggy came back into Matt’s life and Matt entered into a semi-interesting career of his own, as deputy mayor under Wilson Fisk. But it’s constantly been grating me to see heroes he’s known for years not know that Matt and Daredevil are one of the same. A big part of who someone is, even a fictional character, boils down to his or her relationships. For me, it was not something I could get over.

Besides, while it seemed plausible forty years ago that Daredevil could hide his blindness consistently, even around people who were more than casual acquaintances, I simply don’t buy that for a modern take on the character. Look to episodes three and four of the third season of the Netflix show for an indication of the stakes involved. (No, he didn’t blow his cover, but he might have over something banal.) So, seeing Matt train Blindspot (for presumably many days and hours) without admitting to his blindness, or having it be discovered, fails to work for me for reasons of both logic and narrative “authenticity.”

And don’t even get me started on the senses writing over the last three years. Having the radar drawn as an Instagram filter on acid, and Matt (easily) “seeing” through walls (into a building across the street), just doesn’t work for me. At all. The latter is something I associate with Silver and Bronze age comics. Even though there may be some logic to this (you’ll have to read my science book eventually), this is a skill that I believe should be used very sparingly with at least some awareness its inherent limitations. They are considerable. Listening for a silent spot in the city to find Muse? Does that remind anyone else of the universally laughed-at scene of Daredevil landing a rocket in the second issue from 1964? If I actually sound a little pissed about this, it’s because I am.

I don’t mind high-powered heroes as such. I’ve seen every movie coming out of the MCU, many of them more than once. I’ve enjoyed comics about Matt’s fellow heroes with much more spectacular powers. I have a suprising level of attachment to  much of Peter David’s work on Jamie Madrox (the “Multiple Man,” whose powers are as weird as they come). I grew up on Superman comics. I just think Daredevil is a hero who is at his best and most relatable when his powers are more modest and he’s treated as less of an omniscient demi-god.

This is especially true because of his blindness which is something writers need to show at least a modest interest in engaging with. It’s there. It’s real. It’s as real as his heightened senses are. Not doing this aspect of the character justice in 1964, or 1974, was fine. We can laugh at that now. Forty of fifty years later, it’s not funny to me. The Netflix show did it right. Is it too much to hope that writers can take inspiration from this? The fact that Matt’s powers don’t actually fully compensate for his blindness (even when his powers are depicted as more extreme than I might prefer) should, in my opinion, be treated more as a feature of the character than as an unfortunate design bug to be spoken of as rarely as possible. 

Still, though, this is actually a minor quibble compared to the fact that Daredevil hasn’t felt like himself (to me) since around the time Mark Waid and Chris Samnee had him show up to court in a red Daredevil business suit. Which is a real shame since their entire run (initially with Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martín as pencillers) up until that point still ranks among my favorite runs ever. (And yes, their respect for Matt’s blindness was better than I’ve ever seen before or since, and for that they will have my eternal gratitude.)

As you might imagine, hearing new writer Chip Zdarsky say this, is sweet music to my ears:

“I’ve always loved the various tonal takes on DAREDEVIL, but for this run I’ve decided to really go deep on the realities of being a vigilante in this world. Out of all the main Super Heroes, Daredevil has felt like the one you could do that with. I don’t care to see a “reality-based” Fantastic Four (though as I type that I remember how much I loved UNSTABLE MOLECULES. The exception to prove the rule!), but I love the idea of a reality-based DAREDEVIL.”

Interview with Zdarsky and new (returning) artist Marco Checchetto at Marvel.com

Of course, I have no idea whether the (relative) realism he speaks of will apply to Matt’s senses, but it wouldn’t surprise me, and I’m hopeful that it might. 

Our inner Daredevils

As for Checchetto coming back to draw Daredevil, I couldn’t be happier. His take on Matt is probably the one that comes closest to my own idea of what this character actually looks like. Because I, like probably most long-time readers of the comics, already had an idea in our heads of what Matt “should” look like, long before the Netflix show happened.

Elden Henson’s Foggy, especially with his haircut from season three, and Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen have supplanted whatever picture was in my head. But “my” Matt does not look like Charlie Cox. This isn’t actually a problem for me, in terms of enjoying the show, any more than seeing an actor portraying a real life person is a problem. For the purposes of enjoying the show, it doesn’t really matter that Charlie doesn’t look like “my” Matt.

But who is this “my Matt” person? I talked a bit about this in my post about “Being a Daredevil fan, 600 issues later” (also linked to above), and it’s what the title of this post is really in reference to. (I know, I sure took a while getting to the point.)

Forever Matt Murdock is the idea I have in my head of who Daredevil is, and he transcends each individual interpretation of the character. I assume everyone has this kind of timeless “forever” idea of who their favorite characters are. After all, what allows us to determine that someone is acting “out of character,” is some kind of idea of what the character in our heads would have done or said instead.

We all have slightly different takes on these characters, and that’s fine and perfectly normal, but I’m finding that my future dedication to Daredevil and this site, hinges on my ability to rediscover and reconnect with my inner Matt Murdock. I need to care about comic book Matt again, whether through his old stories or the new ones. This is the downside to getting a bit too invested in the television version of Matt that, in his third season especially, almost grew to supplant the one that was in my head to begin with.

So, this was a long, rambling text that I wrote in part do deal with my own frustrations about the current state of “Daredevil-dom.” So, I hope you’ll forgive some of the snark. And the complete lack of structure.

What are your own thoughts on all of this? Feel free to rant, rave, or otherwise voice your opinions in the comments!

The other “mask”

One of these days, I’m going to try to catch up on reviews of the current ongoing Daredevil book (it’ll probably be as a video). And, when I get some time this weekend, I want to do a post detailing Daredevil’s many encounters with Bullseye. However, in search of a topic for a slightly less ambitious post to start the week, I turned to Facebook to ask TOMP’s followers for ideas. One idea was put forth about a science post on Matt’s kinesthetic abilities. Of course, this is a great idea, but one I’ll be covering in the book. When I get to that chapter (I’m currently busy writing about the “radar”), I’d be happy to put together a digest for the site.

The other suggestion, endorsed by two people, was to write a little something about Matt’s (pretty obvious) insecurities about showing his eyes to people. I actually touched on this subject when I did a post about the various looks of Matt’s sunglasses over the years, But 1) that was six years ago (pre-Netflix), and 2) psychoanalyzing the shit out of Matt Murdock can usually be done on short notice and with a minimum of preparation. So, perfect for a slightly shorter post.

Matt and Dakota North having a heart to heart while working out, as seen in Daredevil #111 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker and Clay Mann

Perhaps the handful of panels you see above, from Daredevil #111 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker and Clay Mann, is really all that needs to be said on the topic. Aside from the rather odd segue between what Matt says in panels three and four (which I think has to do with Matt’s recent loss of his wife Milla to villain-induced insanity and relating this to his own father’s inability to protect him), much of what I think this boils down to is: “So much of my life… It’s been about how people see me. Not wanting to let them see too much.”

What I like about this line is that there are so many facets to it. There are at least three ways to read it that all say something about Matt. We have the literal interpretation that reminds us that Matt has to pay very close attention to his outward behavior so that he doesn’t rouse suspicion. In his civilian life, no one except a select few can know he has heightened senses, and as Daredevil, no one can know he’s blind. This, in and of itself, would inspire a certain amount of paranoia and hyper-vigilance about how he’s perceived.

The second way to read this reminds me of what Elektra said to Matt at the end of the second season of Daredevil, when she suggests to him that he hides from the world, and refuses to let people in. In so doing she calls out a character trait shaped by a lonely childhood and some pretty major abandonment issues. Of course, the Netflix show takes this to extremes, in that Matt is actually raised in an orphanage. Add to that the thoughts that Stick put in his head, and you can begin to make sense of other reasons Matt may not want people to “see too much” of his inner thoughts and wants.

More to the point here is the third way to look at this: Heightened senses or not, Matt obviously knows he is perceived differently than the average person, and that he risks standing out. I also think it’s very much in line with his basic personality to try to manage people’s perceptions as much as he can. I think it boils down to a control thing with him, and in this context the shades make sense and become a different kind of mask. If he can’t look people in the eye, making sure that no one can look him in the eye either evens out the playing field.

Matt and Foggy working in the office while Karen is out, as seen in Marvel's Daredevil, episode three of season one

Because Matt’s behavior in the comics surrounding when and to whom he will reveal this side of himself (see that post from six years ago) has been carried over more or less intact to the Netflix show, you would have to assume that the writers and directors of the show have done so very deliberately. As in the comic, it kind of becomes a proxy for trust and intimacy, and perhaps says even more about Matt’s level of trust in Foggy than anything he says or does.

In that first episode scene with Karen, he makes what we can assume is a big exception for her. But he does so in a situation where she’s feeling exceptionally vulnerable and he’s willing to go to great lengths to put her at ease. In the third episode, Matt and Foggy are working in the office (see above). When Karen comes back from lunch, Matt is very quick to put his glasses back on (see the featured image). He continues to do this more often than not throughout the show. It is hard to interpret it as anything other than a physical manifestation of him raising his guard.

Of course, there’s a slight difference between “managing others’ perceptions” and a genuine insecurity about one’s appearance. In Matt’s case, and this goes for the comic as well as the show, you definitely get the sense that the latter cannot be completely disregarded. I actually find this incredibly humanizing. Even people who seem to have everything in life sorted out probably have a complex about something. Things we experience in childhood seems to have a particular power over us, and a stupid comment by the school bully can linger for years. For all we know, hearing something insensitive said about him at just the right (wrong) age might have planted an idea in Matt’s head that he can’t quite shake, despite knowing better on a rational level.

Considering Daredevil’s near-complete mastery of his body and remaining senses, his eyes become that one part of his anatomy that will never behave as expected, and can never be fully reigned in. Effectively covering his eyes is the only way Matt has of addressing this, and I suppose his need to do this is yet another one of those quirks that makes him interesting.

The 50+ ways in which Marvel’s Daredevil reminds you that Matt is blind (for real)

Matt talking to Foggy and Karen, as seen in episode eight of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Since this post was originally published, I have also written a follow-up piece featuring details from season two and The Defenders

I did not set out to write a manifesto, but I don’t really know what else to call this post. A plea perhaps? I suppose what makes it a “manifesto” is the amount of heartfelt emotion that I’ve put into this post. For as long as I’ve been a Daredevil fan, I’ve always been very protective of his “blind side.” Regular readers of this blog (which passed 800 posts just last week) know this. I know quite a few of you agree with me. Others are probably tired of my occasional rants on the subject, but thanks for sticking around anyway.

This is me pouring my heart out. Again. And my end goal is this: I want to elevate the way “we” (fans, creators, and critics) speak about this character so that it truly reflects his full complexity. Most people have no trouble doing this when it comes to his “lawyer who breaks the law” state of moral shadiness. But when it comes to his physiology, far too many people accept the creed of “my other senses more than compensate” (see, for instance, Daredevil #168, by Frank Miller, below) without a second thought. The problem is that this has always been, and always will be, a logical fallacy. It’s a tagline, a shorthand for describing the character’s powers in one brief statement. And, it’s inaccurate. We can do better.

Scene from Daredevil #168, by Frank Miller. Matt meets Elektra for the first time and comes clean about his powers, saying. "I'm blind, but I have other abilities that more than compensate."

This post is the result of the copious amounts of notes I took on various trends and patterns during season one, which is why I’ve been able to throw something this lengthy together in one evening. Most of what you’ll read below has been living in an Excel sheet that I put together two years ago. This is the reason it only covers season one, though much of this obviously holds true for season two as well. The reason I’m getting this out now has to do with some of the ways Daredevil actor Charlie Cox has been talking about the character he plays so well in several recent interviews, where Matt Murdock is described as a lie, Daredevil is the true identity, and Matt is only pretending to be blind (in some cases, “blind” is even exchanged for the much broader term “visually impaired” which makes the statement even more questionable).

But there’s also a reason I’ve been hesitant to put this down in writing as boldly as I’m doing here, and that boils down to the fact that I don’t wish to “shame” anyone, least of all someone who seems as genuinely nice and caring as Charlie Cox. Who, I should add, does a fantastic job in the role, and who I know has shown an incredible amount of dedication to making all aspects of Matt Murdock’s life as real as anyone could hope for (and he’s also said plenty of things that actually run completely counter to the bits I’m giving him a hard time about here). I’m actually quite dismayed by the current “outrage culture” that sees people being shamed for using slightly outdated terms, not expressing themselves “just right,” or for not being “woke” enough. I think it’s sad when we expect the worst of each other, scrutinize every word someone says and don’t give people the benefit of the doubt. I am not going to be a part of that. In fact, I even suspect that some of the wording that I’m reacting to may actually have come about as a result of not wanting to offend.

Stan Lee has talked about how worried he was, back when Daredevil made his debut, that blind people would find him offensive, that they would say “We can’t do that!” And I’m sure there are droves of blind and visually impaired people who do find the mere concept of Daredevil offensive, just as there are many that feel just the opposite. (What people actually find offensive obviously varies greatly from person to person.) Still, I would imagine that people associated with this show may actually feel that underscoring that Matt only “pretends” to be blind is the best way to shield Daredevil from criticism. Add to this that Cox’s description of Matt hasn’t surfaced in a vacuum but actually reflects how many of Daredevil’s fans and past creators would talk about him as well. I happen to disagree with this decision, and feel that a chance is being missed to highlight the fact that, for many people, vision impairment is more complicated than the simple blind-sighted dichotomy suggests, and that Daredevil is actually an interesting example of this.

So, what gives? What is this “more elevated” way of talking about Daredevil that I’m suggesting gives a better and more complete understanding of the character? Certainly, I can’t be suggesting that Matt doesn’t live a life where there isn’t a lot of pretense? And no, I’m not suggesting that. I quite agree with Cox and many others who would point to the many ways in which Matt Murdock’s civilian life is a façade. It very obviously is, and I agree that Matt likely feels very conflicted about this. But I wouldn’t call “Matt Murdock” a lie. I would call him a necessary half-truth. Matt’s heightened senses allow him to be Daredevil, and to do a number of other things that you would not expect of someone who is totally blind, but they don’t – and here’s the kicker – actually make him sighted. Part of the irony of Matt’s peculiar condition is that if his senses actually did compensate for his blindness in any and all situations, he wouldn’t have to “pretend to be blind” in the first place. The reason I’m saying that “my other senses more than compensate” is a logical fallacy is that it is true in some situations, not quite true in others, and not even a little bit true in others still.

There is a reason that Matt Murdock the college student, if he wishes to keep his heightened senses hidden, has no choice but to go “full blind guy.” His advantages over any other blind student in a setting like a college classroom is pretty much nil. He can’t see the blackboard (whiteboard these days), the slides, or whatever movie is being shown. He may know what the professor ate last night, but that’s probably not particularly relevant to next week’s homework. If he wants to type up a paper, he needs to use a computer with a screenreader. (This bit, almost all fans seem to get intuitively, just going by the number of rather inane “how are you tweeting this?!” comments directed at the official Daredevil Twitter account. Sadly, these people seem to have missed the part where Matt owns and operates a computer on the actual show…).

Even Matt Murdock, the lawyer, would find himself in a situation where he, if he were to unwisely try to use his heightened senses to pass for sighted, would find himself severely limited. Many pieces of evidence are highly visual in nature. If he didn’t exercise his right to have photographic or video evidence described and transcribed to him, he would be less effective at his job.

The civilian identity places physical and behavioral restrictions on Matt, there’s no doubt about that. It makes sense that Matt would, at times, find these restrictions limiting and tiresome. And yes, they would often make him feel like a phony. I would point out though, that the Daredevil identity also comes with restrictions. I understand and empathize with Matt’s need to be Daredevil, I understand the immense freedom it gives him. But the thing is, Daredevil can only exist in Daredevil’s world, where the need to be able to see and interpret strictly visual information is minimal, and most situations can be solved by doing exactly those things Daredevil does best.

The mundane truth, however, is that “Daredevil” has to eat, make a living, find a place to live, go to the store, and transport himself over greater distances than his billy club can take him. He has to interact with regular people he is not beating up for information, and generally exist in a society where there is a truckload of incidental visual information that he is not able to see and that his other senses really don’t make up for. The reason people rarely think of these situations is because they are generally not something you would see featured in the comic. You see more of them in the show, but even then we have to live with the fact that following Matt to Barney’s so he can shop for a new suit does not make for riveting entertainment. This means that there is a natural bias in most Daredevil stories against featuring the more mundane situations where his blindness might be an issue.

Panel from Daredevil #301, by D.G. Chichester and M.C. Wyman. Daredevil, in battle, thinks to himself: "My head swivels up at the voice, partly for appearances, partly reflex from when I could still see."

So far in the Netflix show, Daredevil has rarely found himself in situations where he awkwardly has to pretend to be able to see in the traditional fashion – his meetings with Melvin Potter are an interesting exception – but these situations do exist in the comic (see a couple of my favorites here, and here). Where Matt can really be his true self is around people who know about his senses, but these situations too do not suggest that he can see in the traditional sense. He does have his own unique way of interacting with the world that is unlike that of a (totally) blind person, but also unlike that of a sighted person. Even something as simple as communicating with the eyes, through eye contact and almost imperceptible glances, is a big part of how (sighted) people communicate. Matt conducts himself differently. Having to pretend to be more functionally blind than he is, is not Matt’s natural state of being, but neither is having to pretend to see things he cannot or conduct himself in ways identical to someone who can see. Perhaps Frank Miller put it best: “The hidden identity can be a relief, Bullseye. When I’m Murdock, I don’t have to use my amplified senses to pretend I’m not blind.” (From Daredevil #191, Roulette)

Matt goes to visit Chuckie, in Daredevil #191 by Frank Miller, quoted above

In many ways, Matt is more typical of a visually impaired person – in the broader sense of the world – than most people realize. Of all the people who find themselves in this category, the totally blind (or nearly so) are the minority. Most exist in a gray area and are perhaps best described as partially sighted. Someone with retinitis pigmentosa, who has lost most of his peripheral vision, might need a cane but can read a regular book with his sharp central vision. Someone with macular degeneration might have a fuzzy central blindspot and need screenreader software, but be able to get around quite easily without a cane, reach for objects with no trouble and not be pegged as blind by the casual observer, even when classified as legally blind. They can see some things, but not others. Kind of like a certain someone we know. To deny this is to sell him short.

With this longish preamble out of the way, let’s get to the many ways that the Netflix show actually proves my point. Overall, the show really does an excellent job of handling Matt Murdock’s strange blend of blindness and heightened senses. In fact, all things taken together, I can’t think of a single run of the comic – with the possible exception of the recent Waid/Samnee/Rivera/Martín run – that has been more successful in this regard. Which is why it’s ironic that these things aren’t talked about more accurately by the people who do everything right to make this work on screen.

“The List”

  1. Episode 1 (at 08:45) – The phone swipe

    Matt’s phone announces that he’s receiving an incoming call from Foggy. He responds by using gestures on his smart phone. Pretty much exactly as any other totally blind person would, and in this particular situation, his heightened senses completely fail to compensate in any way.

  2. Episode 1 (at 10:45) – The view

    “You can flip a coin with your partner for it,” says the real estate agent. “He can have the view,” Matt responds when he and Foggy are looking at offices for their firm. It makes sense that Matt would offer Foggy the room with the view, if he wants to hide his senses. It also makes sense because he legitimately can’t see the view or derive any esthetic pleasure from it. Does not being able to see the view detract from his crime fighting? Not in the least. But, enjoying the view of the Hudson river is clearly something Foggy can do that Matt can’t. Because he cannot visually detect any light. It’s that simple.

  3. Episode 1 (at 15:05) – The braille watch

    Matt and Foggy check the time while interrogating Karen, this in response to her asking how long they’ve been practicing law. Matt has a braille watch. Which makes perfect sense since he wouldn’t be able to see the face of a regular watch. Because he’s blind. Incidentally, the braille watch is perhaps the earliest adaptive device featured consistently in the Daredevil comic.

  4. Episode 1 (at 15:45) – The notepad

    Matt subtly indicates to Foggy to take down what Karen is saying on his notepad. Matt could write if he wanted to, as can many other blind people, though he would be subject to the same difficulties in that he can’t monitor what he’s writing while he’s doing it (in a way that is analogous to how a deaf person can’t hear his or her own speech). He could use a notetaker device for the blind. Either way, the act of taking handwritten notes would not be something he would approach much differently than any other blind person. As for reading them, he’s got a leg up, if we’re going by traditional canon.

  5. Episode 1 (at 19:45) – The dictaphone

    Matt's dictaphone, as seen in season one, episode one of Marvel's Daredevil

    Matt is double-checking the dictaphone on his table by running his hand over it, possibly to verify that the braille labels that are revealed on a later close-up are still there. I will absolutely go along with his playing up the blind guy bit here, but the case I’m making is that it’s completely logical that he would label buttons on various things, either by using braille labels or little plastic “bumpers”. If he had a TV, one such item would be the remote control (I challenge anyone with a semi-complicated remote to know what all the buttons are without looking at the often tiny numbers and symbols on or near them). Another such item would the microwave or oven in his house. It just makes sense. This information is simply less accessible to him than it is to someone who sees with visible light.

  6. Episode 1 (at 25:15) – The signs around town

    “I’ve seen their signs all over Hell’s Kitchen,” Foggy says when Karen tells them about Union Allied leading the reconstructions of the city. Included here simply because Matt wouldn’t have. Because he can’t see signs.

  7. Episode 1 (at 29:30) – The billboard

    Matt talks about how he got the apartment cheap because he’s not bothered by the giant billboard outside. Which he wouldn’t be because he can’t see it (for the same reason that he usually leaves the lights off in his apartment). This is certainly a good thing in this situation (hey, cheap NYC apartment!), but logic dictates that this isn’t the only billboard in town which the vast majority of people can draw information from that he can’t.

  8. Episode 1 (at 30:20) – The styling of hair

    Karen asks if she can ask a personal question. Matt quickly responds with how he hasn’t always been blind. Karen realizes that that’s probably what everyone wants to know and Matt jokingly answers: “That, and how do you comb your hair?” This is, of course, a silly question to ask a blind person as we can assume that the vast majority have no problems combing their hair. It’s included here for the simple reason that while Matt obviously can comb his hair, he would be no better at it than anyone else who is blind since he can’t use mirrors. By extension, anything that falls into the category of personal grooming of the kind that sighted people would do by sight – aided by a mirror – are things that Matt would have to approach the same as any other person with little to no sight.

  9. Episode 1 (at 31:30) – The sky

    “It doesn’t change the fact that I’d give anything to see the sky one more time.” While I question the sincerity in what Matt is saying here (see my review of episode one), there’s no denying that he, in fact, used to be able to see the sky and no longer can. Because he’s blind. Are there other esthetic pleasures of a visual nature that he cannot appreciate that other people can and that he might miss, ever so occasionally? Of course. This doesn’t affect his ninja moves at all, but does point to there being a legitimate sensory deficit.

  10. Episode 1 (at 47:50) – The folding of bills

    Matt hands a folded bill over to the guy at Fogwell’s gym. This is something that regular blind people often do. There is no reason to assume that Matt wouldn’t do the same for reasons that have nothing to do with keeping up appearances. Even if we make allowances for the print reading of the comics, it would be more efficient for him to have a folding system when quickly trying to go through his wallet.

  11. Episode 2 (at 03:20) – The unresponsive pupils

    Claire checks Matt’s pupils for a reaction. They are unresponsive to light. As they should be.

  12. Episode 2 (at 04:10) – The missed light

    Matt gets up to leave and heads straight for Claire’s brightly lit kitchen instead. True, he’s very disoriented, but the sheepish look on his face pretty much confirms that this is not a mistake that a sighted person would have made quite as readily.

  13. Episode 2 (at 11:20) – The missing mask

    Claire is taking care of Matt who is on her couch, as seen in the second episode of Marvel's Daredevil

    Matt wakes on Claire’s couch, disoriented. His first question is: “Where am I?” Not “Who are you?”, that comes next. The order of the questions Matt asks, along with not readily realizing that he’s not wearing his mask (he actually tries to feel for it on his face) clearly indicate that he’s not taking in the scene in the same way and with the same priorities as he probably would if he were sighted. Yes, there’s a massive amount of disorientation involved here, but the subtle differences remain. I’m not suggesting that Matt is necessarily at a disadvantage compared to a sighted person in this scenario, only that his behavior overall is not what we would expect from a sighted person.

  14. Episode 2 (at 18:15) – The facial expression

    Matt to Claire: “You’re looking at me like I’m crazy, right?” Matt has never really been able to detect subtle – or even not-so-subte – facial expressions in the comic, and the same seems to be true here.

  15. Episode 2 (at 22:20) – The searching hand

    Matt finds a knife in Claire’s drawer. How quickly he finds it is certainly impressive for a blind guy, but he does actually briefly explore the drawer with his hand.

  16. Episode 2 (at 29:25) – The inaccessible phone

    Up on Claire’s roof, Matt is hoisting the fake Detective Foster up by a rope, asking Claire – who has the man’s phone – whether she found anything on it. The reason he has to ask? He legitimately can’t see what’s on it and has no way of operating it. Because he’s blind.

  17. Episode 2 (at 32:55) – The feeling of silk robes

    Young Matt runs his hands over his father’s new robe. While this is a young Matt who has yet to learn how to use his senses fully, it would make sense that this kind of exploration would have to happen by tactile means even as he grows up. As a general rule, I can see no reason why Matt would approach something like shopping for clothes or getting the sense of a fabric any differently from anyone else who has a pretty severe visual impairment.

  18. Episode 2 (at 39:40) – The trigeminal nerve

    Claire suggests that Matt try stabbing their captive Russian in his trigeminal nerve, and she shows Matt where it’s located by tracing its path on Matt’s face, near the eye. I’m sure Matt could have made sense out of her gesture even if she had shown him by pointing to her own face, but there’s not doubt in my mind that he would get a less detailed sense of it that way.

  19. Episode 3 (at 12:30) – The big check

    Wesley slides a piece of paper over to Foggy, with an monetary offer printed on it. Later, after Wesley has left, Foggy says of Matt’s doubts that if he could see the number of zeroes on his offer he wouldn’t care. This situation is a minor one, but highlights the fact that Matt can’t casually glance at any kinds of documents strewn about on a table, or posted on a wall, the way a sighted person could. In fact, Matt’s lack of access to incidental and potentially useful visual information (in writing or presented as a graphic), is perhaps the most significant issue not addressed by his heightened senses. With the way the character works, in and out of the comics, he could miss an enormous amount of information available to other people, and never even know it. The reverse is, of course, also true. Matt detects things others don’t, but the two don’t automatically cancel or balance each other out.

  20. Episode 3 (at 14:40) – The sound of a watch

    Matt follows Wesley and listen as he walks to his car, from episode three of Marvel's Daredevil

    Matt follows Wesley by the sound of his watch, then stops at the curb and follows the latter’s moves. By listening to them. This is clearly a case of Matt putting his heightened senses to great use, but let’s not pretend that a sighted person couldn’t have visually tracked Wesley’s movements just as easily, and possibly even more so. This is a classic case of Matt’s senses just compensating, by means that are mostly non-visual in nature, but quite honestly do little more. Matt’s ability to sense the shapes of things in a way that resembles vision also has a limited range.

  21. Episode 3 (at 30:30) – The screenreader

    This scene shows the first real look at Matt’s computer set-up, which includes a braille display. It’s on Foggy to look up the right section of the penal law and read it to Matt, in this particular scene. As a general rule, this is clearly the area of Matt’s life where his heightened senses benefit him the least. As has been comic lore for at least some twenty-five years (I’m counting back to those weird couple of issues in the early nineties where Matt could read computer screens by touch), Matt cannot access screens. He would need to use the same kind of assistive technology as any other person with little to no useful vision. This is not pretense – not part of “the act.”

  22. Episode 4 (at 05:05) – The voice

    Matt to Claire: “Maybe I just like the sound of your voice.” This is probably meant to indicate that non-visual qualities are particularly important to him. As they would be.

  23. Episode 4 (at 05:30) – The burner phone

    Matt hands Claire a burner phone. He asks her to enter her number into it. Which makes sense. And, if this is just a regular phone with no special features on it, he might run into some problems doing it himself. Though dialing shouldn’t be a problem if there’s only one or a few phone book listings as the right sequence of key presses could be learned easily.

  24. Episode 4 (at 28:30) – The Veles taxi cab

    Matt asks Santino if he heard or saw anything that can help him locate Claire. Santino mentions that he saw them get into a cab, Veles Taxi. Incidentally, this specific nugget of information is one that Matt could never have come by on his own, save for someone mentioning it in passing.

  25. Episode 5 (at 00:50) – The breakfast

    Matt is cooking. Which is not at all strange. There is absolutely nothing that says that even completely blind people cannot be great cooks, and I’d like to think that Matt’s heightened sense of smell, in particular, might make him quite adept at it. This scene is included here for the simple reason that Matt’s approach to cooking would probably have more in common with that of a blind person than that of a sighted person. He would determine whether the food is properly cooked by smell or by how it responds to being poked with kitchen utensils. Also, some kitchen equipment, to the extent that he uses it, would probably be of the talking variety.

  26. Episode 5 (at 02:50) – The “world on fire”

    “I can’t see. Not like everyone else, but I can feel. Things like balance and direction, micro-changes in the air density, vibrations, blankets of temperature variations. Mix all that with what I hear, subtle smells… All the fragments form sort of an impressionistic painting.” I take issue with some of Matt is saying here, in particular the bits about balance and direction being quite so high on the list. These are things that clearly help with the acrobatics and the ninja fighting, as they have to do with body awareness, but these are not the kinds of impressions that are vital to the detection of objects in space. With a radarless interpretation of the senses, the hearing of echoes should account for the overwhelming majority of what feeds into Matt’s awareness of space. However, that’s a topic covered elsewhere. The reason I include this scene here, is that at least Matt is clearly stating that he can’t see like everyone else. Which should be obvious to everyone.

  27. Episode 5 (at 03:45) – The actual “world on fire”

    Matt’s world on fire, while a far from ideal way of picturing Matt’s senses, at least brings home the point that he does not “see” particularly well. Well enough to move about freely and make out decent-sized objects? Certainly. As he should. 20/20 color vision? Nope, not even close.

  28. Episode 5 (at 06:00) – The crooked tie

    Matt’s tie is adorably askew. Maybe if he could actually use a mirror, it wouldn’t be… 😉

  29. Episode 5 (at 36:35) – The inaccessible phone, part two

    Claire helps Matt check what's in the phone he found on the crooked cop, as seen in Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix, episode five

    Matt found Detective Blake’s phone while he was roughing him up. Back in his apartment, Claire is going through it to look for clues. She finds a text message that gives the addresses to the locations which will be bombed later. Matt could not have gotten this information on his own. Clearly one of many situations where he doesn’t “operate better than a sighted person”.

  30. Episode 6 (at 12:20) – The movies

    “It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies, you know.” “I don’t really go to the movies. I like records though.” I saw this scene referenced a couple of times in the push to get Netflix to add audio descriptions, because it hightlighted the irony of a show that the main protagonist, if he were a real person, would not be able to access fully. When it comes to visual entertainment, and visual arts in general, Matt is in the same boat as every other totally blind person. This tends to get handwaved away by some fans as inconsequential, and it certainly doesn’t affect Matt’s prowess as a crime fighter (much), but movies and television are not only a major source of information but are a big part of popular culture. It does surprise me that he doesn’t have a TV though. There’s the news, which he might legitimately be interested in, and many shows can be enjoyed by blind people even without audio description.

  31. Episode 7 (at 03:40) – The braille

    Matt is reading braille. Kind of like a blind person who can’t read print. Of course, in the comics, Matt can read print (though this ability has been somewhat downplayed over the years), but regardless of whether this is a real ability in the Netflix show or not – it appears to have been scrapped, for which I’m grateful (though Charlie Cox has mentioned that they did tape a scene for the first season, that was later cut, of him reading newsprint) – I could never find any good reason why Matt would actively choose to read anything but braille when given the option. Preferring print would be like saying “Oh, I’m fine reading six point faded type under poor lighting, in fact I prefer it to reading things comfortably!” In the Born Again story arc, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Matt actually talks about reading print as an occasional strain.

  32. Episode 7 (at 47:10) – The clean up

    Matt is cleaning up his floor after his fight with Stick, lightly brushing his fingers over the carpet in a way that looks remarkably like what we’d expect from someone with impaired vision. How about that? He then finds the ice cream wrapper bracelet that he made for Stick as a child. It’s his fingers, not his other senses, that recognize it. He knows it by touch.

  33. Episode 8 (at 04:40) – The talking alarm clock

    Matt's talking alarm clock, as seen in episode eight of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

    Matt wakes up to his talking alarm clock. Which makes sense since he can’t see digital displays. Not part of “the act.” (Interestingly, there was another alarm clock on his night stand at the beginning of the series. I guess someone figured that this made more sense.)

  34. Episode 8 (at 16:40) – The screenreader, part two

    Close-up of Matt's braille display, as seen in the eighth episode of Marvel's Daredevil

    Matt is reading something from his computer on a braille display. He’s also got an earpiece for the audio output. Part of his regular blind guy cover or actually useful thing because he really can’t see the screen? Well, both. No pretense involved. Matt would realistically have to “blind guy” his way through the vast majority of his office work, which anyone who has spent more than five seconds thinking about this knows, including everyone involved in this project.

  35. Episode 8 (at 49:50) – The Fisk speech

    Matt is listening to Wilson Fisk give his speech over his computer at home. Emphasis on listening.

  36. Episode 9 (at 19:30) – The newspaper

    Karen shoves the newspaper in Matt’s face, and Foggy says “You know he can’t see that.” As Foggy is about to learn, there’s a lot he didn’t know about Matt Murdock, but on this point, he is absolutely right. Matt is not pretending he can’t see what’s printed on the front page of the newspapers, because he really can’t see what’s on the front page of the newspaper.

  37. Episode 9 (at 22:10) – The art gallery

    Matt meets Vanessa at the art gallery. Where he really literally can’t see any of the paintings. When Vanessa says that “You don’t need sight to appreciate art,” Matt replies that “sight helps.” If we’re talking strictly about visual art, then he’s certainly right. And he would know.

  38. Episode 9 (at 21:00) – The painting

    Matt and Vanessa, admiring her favorite painting, as seen in Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

    Vanessa shows Matt one of her “favorite pieces” and, in a rather humorous misstep, seems to have completely forgotten that her customer can’t see the painting in question. Matt asks her to describe it to him, which she does. There is a lot of pretense going on here: Matt pretends to be a customer, and he pretends to need to use a white cane. There is no doubt about this. He does not, however, have to pretend to not be able to see the painting.

  39. Episode 9 (at 27:05) – The caller ID

    Foggy calls, and Matt dismisses the call, though not before the talking caller ID has announced to both Matt and Father Lantom who the call is from. Clearly, Matt would have no other way of knowing who the caller is.

  40. Episode 9 (at 29:50) – The task better handled by the sighted staff

    Karen tells Matt about how she and Foggy identified the men who attacked her from the photos on their contractor’s licences. Incidentally something Matt would not be able to do. With his being blind and all that.

  41. Episode 9 (at 30:45) – The Nelson & Murdock sign

    Foggy gives Matt their new sign to “look at” and he runs his fingers over it. Despite the embossing and large features, it is unlikely that Matt can get any detailed sense of the sign using his other senses, so it makes sense to examine it by touch. Kind of like a blind guy.

  42. Episode 9 (at 35:25) – The muted TV

    Foggy draws everyone’s attention to Wilson Fisk on the muted television screen behind them. Matt asks Josie to turn up the volume, something he would not have known to do if it were not for the sighted people in his company.

  43. Episode 9 (at 43:35) – The limited “view”

    Matt examines the building plans with his hand, from episode nine of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

    Matt enters the warehouse down at the docks and examines the large prints on the table next to him. He takes his glove off and runs his hand over the building plans. It is unclear how much information he’s getting from this, going by the comic book version of Matt’s powers, he should be able to feel the printed lines under his fingertips, provided the layer of ink is thick enough. However, a sighted person could take in the entire “scene” of what’s on the table in the fraction of a second. There has never been an incarnation of the character that can match or compensate for the effeciency that ordinary vision provides for cases like this.

  44. Episode 10 (at 07:35) – The caller ID, part two

    Karen calls while Matt and Foggy are having their big confrontation. Again, the talking caller ID lets us know it’s from her.

  45. Episode 10 (at 17:50) – The unseen footage

    Foggy mentions “that news footage of you, in the alley after bombings” and then adds – perhaps because he feels the need to elaborate – “the way you were flipping around…” Which is apt because while Matt obviously experienced the scene first hand, he can’t know anything about how he appears in the footage.

  46. Episode 11 (at 05:30) – The task better handled by the sighted staff, part two

    Karen talks about the misfiled piece of papers she found at the county clerk’s office. Incidentally, not the kind of investigation Matt could undertake unassisted with any kind of efficiency.

  47. Episode 11 (at 07:55) – The balloon

    Karen gives Matt a balloon. She tells him there’s a monkey on it. Which he really wouldn’t know if she didn’t tell him.

  48. Episode 11 (at 34:10) – The workshop

    Matt examines the materials in Melvin’s workshop. It’s all very hands on.

  49. Episode 12 (at 37:50) – The blind workers

    Matt inspects the blind workers, as seen in season one, episode 12 of Marvel's Daredevil

    Matt discovers the blind workers. His different way of taking things in is clearly on display in this scene, and here it takes him quite a bit longer to figure out that the workers are blind than it probably would for a sighted person. This is one of those situations where an inability to monitor subtle eye movements comes into play.

  50. Episode 13 (at 05:55) – The people known from their photos

    Karen talks about Ellison being at the funeral, hinting at his disposition. It is unclear whether Karen has ever met him before (probably not), but she could have recognized him from a picture, his byline in the paper, etc. Matt couldn’t have. Matt can, of course, recognize someone’s voice from a previously heard audio feed though.

  51. Episode 13 (at 20:00) – The screenreader, part three

    Matt, Foggy and Karen working in the conference room, as seen in episode thirteen of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

    More office work for Matt. In this scene, we even see him use the computer keyboard, searching for the right key with his fingers. As he would since he can’t see the symbols on them. Meanwhile, Foggy and Karen are searching through a bunch of printed documents that Matt presumably can’t read (though he could potentially scan them and have them transcribed with OCR software). Even though comic book Matt can read print (to varying degrees), the task of scanning entire pages and looking for irregularities is much better suited for vision.

  52. Episode 13 (at 39:50) – The costume

    Matt goes to pick up his new costume and gets an explanation from Melvin what the different colored pieces are for (I guess he’s going to have to find out about which are the better protected areas some other way), and then touches the garment to examine it.

  53. Episode 13 (at 49:55) – The newspaper, part two

    Karen reads about Daredevil in the newspaper. Which, by the way, Matt can’t see. Too bad, ’cause that is one cool first page!

  54. Episode 13 (at 50:35) – The Nelson & Murdock sign, part two

    For the second time this season, Matt feels the Nelson and Murdock sign. It’s impossible to know what is other senses might tell him about that sign (something sqaure and metallic with a surface irregularity where the letters are?), but his sense of touch is still his best bet for getting the detail that others can get visually.

Okay, that’s it. I’ve made my case. Please share this with anyone who needs to read it. At this point, I don’t care if I ruffle a few feathers.

Daredevil vs Punisher

I’m probably not the best person to be writing about Daredevil’s long and complicated history with the Punisher. It’s not that I don’t find it interesting – and I’m actually very enthusiastic about seeing Jon Bernthal tackling the role in the upcoming season of Daredevil – it’s just that there are other fans out there who are more interested in it, and definitely more knowledgeable about Frank Castle as a character. For a great list of some Daredevil/Punisher crossovers, look no further than this June 2015 IGN article on that very subject.

However, with the release of a certain official photo of Matt and Frank on a rooftop, everyone who is even vaguely familiar with a certain story from Punisher #3, vol 4 (2000-2001), by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, have been pointing out the obvious similarities. When this scene was mentioned in the comments of my last post, I decided to pay it a little visit for myself.

So, the brief backstory to the infamous scene where Matt finds himself with a gun in his hand and an impossible choice to make, is that Nelson & Murdock are defending Dino Gnucci, brother of the matriarch of the Gnucci crime family who stands accused of multiple homicides. While Dino is basically the kind of hardened criminal no one would want on the streets, he was actually framed for the particular crime he is being accused of – this time – by rival crime families and the District Attorney’s office. So, Frank wants him gone, and Matt wants him found innocent of the crime he didn’t commit, whether he’s a scum bag or not. You can see why these guys don’t see eye to eye on this matter – figuratively speaking. That’s when Frank decides to set at trap for Daredevil (click to zoom in):

Daredevil catches up with Frank Castle to stop him from assassinating a mob boss, as seen in Punisher, vol 4 (2000-2001) #3, by Garth Ennis and Steve DillonDaredevil and Punisher start debating, as seen in Punisher, vol 4 (2000-2001) #3, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

After Daredevil arrives on the scene, the two fight. At first, things seem to be going well for Matt, but that’s all part of the plan. Frank narrates the action:

“I’m letting him have the first round because he’s in for a bad night. He’s not the enemy. He doesn’t deserve to be destroyed. Giving him the round is easy. I haven’t got a change against him. Never do. He’s not the enemy but I’m sick of his self-righteous garbage and he deserves a wake-up call… I rigged the ultrasonic an hour ago. Works like silent whistles do on dogs. Every pooch in the neighborhood starts howling. Even with the earplugs I feel like puking my guts up. What it does to those senses of his — I can’t being to imagine. So I make it as quick as I can.”

When Matt comes to, he makes a shocking discovery:

Daredevil comes to and finds himself chained to a pole with a gun in his hand, as seen in Punisher, vol 4 (2000-2001) #3, by Garth Ennis and Steve DillonDaredevil, desperate, realizes what choice Frank is forcing him to make, as seen in Punisher, vol 4 (2000-2001) #3, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

Always the lawyer, Matt starts pleading with Frank (see below), and this is where the differences between the two are clear. In a parallel to classical rhetoric, we have Matt’s ethos set against Frank’s pathos. To quote Jon Bernthal from yesterday’s TCA panel: “Punisher’s superpower is his rage. That he’s not going to quit. That he’s going to keep going no matter what.”

Daredevil: You have to be out of your mind! I’m not going to kill you!

Punisher: Then Dino Gnucci’s a dead man.

Daredevil: No! Nobody has to die! You don’t have to do this! Dino Gnucci deserves to be taken off the streets, but legitimately! For something he’s actually done! And it has to be that way or else everything, these laws we have, the society we’ve built is all completely worthless! For crying out loud, man, don’t you see that? Don’t you see?

Punisher: The thought of Dino Gnucci living one more minute is enough to drive me insane. Don’t you see?

Daredevil: Oh my God.

Punisher: That’s the spirit.

So, how does it all end? Well, Daredevil actually pulls the trigger. Of course, even that part of this elaborate set-up is a trap. Frank gets to go on “punishing” with his head intact, probably satisfied in the knowledge that Matt will be tormenting himself for weeks. Since this story takes place in a Punisher book, we never actually find out how Matt deals with the aftermath.

When Frank gets ready to take his shot, Daredevil pulls the trigger, as seen in Punisher, vol 4 (2000-2001) #3, by Garth Ennis and Steve DillonDaredevil has been tricked, as seen in Punisher, vol 4 (2000-2001) #3, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

So, how much of this can we expect to see in season two of Daredevil? I personally think that the similarities will be superficial. Frank may very well have Matt witness him commit a crime, but there might not be a choice to be made, as Matt’s options appear even more limited than in the comic.

More importantly, the scene from the comic builds on the fact that Matt and Frank are well-acquainted with each other in every way. In fact, Frank’s annoyance with Matt stems mostly from the fact that he’s so very predictable in these matters. Likewise, Matt’s choice is informed by his knowing exactly what kind of man Frank is. In the Netflix show, Frank will be the newcomer. He may know a thing or two about Daredevil, who has obviously been patrolling the streets for some time, but considering Matt’s relative lack of restraint in season one, it seems unlikely that he’s built a reputation of moral superiority. Then again, this scene may actually be set fairly late in the season where the two have had some time to cultivate their mutual animosity. And maybe that’s the amount of time Matt will need to realize, definitively, that he is not the Punisher. What do you guys think?

Introducing Blindspot

The cover to  All-New, All-Different  Point One, by Mike Del MundoThis week saw the release of an issue it appears a lot of people may have missed. In the “All-New, All-Different (Marvel) Point One” (the “Marvel” bit isn’t actually a part of the title, but with the logo so strategically placed, it’s hard to read it any other way), we get a sneak peek at various coming upcoming new titles framed within a single story. One of these stories features Daredevil, and is by the new Daredevil creative team of Charles Soule and Ron Garney.

I read the entire super-sized issue and found it to be an entertaining enough read. The Daredevil story is really mostly devoted to his new sidekick Blindspot, which is quite alright by me since I’d been a little wary of the new addition. After reading this story, I feel a lot better about it. I like the premise of the character and how his power (more on that below) plays to Daredevil’s strengths.

What this story doesn’t do, however, is give us much of an idea about how Soule intends to write Matt Murdock or what the larger world Daredevil finds himself in will look like. I think we may have to wait until December rolls around for that one.

Blindspot demonstrating his invisibility suit, as seen in the Charles Soule and Ron Garney story in All-New, All-Different  Point One

The idea of partnering Daredevil with a guy who uses some kind of optical technology to disguise himself is pretty clever, and the advantages of such a partnership are pretty obvious. Blindspot being a younger character with a flair for technology also reminds me of a young Peter Parker in some ways, and considering that Daredevil and Spider-Man have always had a pretty interesting relationship, this could be interesting. I also don’t expect this new character to be an ongoing, appears-in-every-issue-for-the-entire-run kind of presence, as that would make this new title a bit far off course for Daredevil. But time will tell!

Daredevil detect Blindspot, as seen in the Charles Soule and Ron Garney story in All-New, All-Different  Point One

A few final comments about the art. Overall, I think it looks really good, and the brighter days of the last few years appear to be over. A big part of me will miss the old look, but at the same time, a moodier style is certainly not something any seasoned Daredevil fan will be unfamiliar with.

I will admit to being a little disappointed with the radar perspective, as seen above. My opinion on this is that the artist should either forego drawing the radar altogether (a perfectly respectable choice, Gene Colan barely drew any “radar panels” at all), or make the effort to get as close to the imagined radar experience as possible.

The way this is done tells us nothing about how Daredevil “sees” the world (since none of the background lights, shadows, or differences in color could possibly be something he would detect), and instead reinforces the notion that he somehow “sees” in a way that is similar to ordinary light vision. Garney is obviously not the first to make this kind of artistic choice. During the Bendis/Maleev run, radar shots were often accomplished by simply layering panels with a red filter, but after these last few years, I’ve come to expect something different. I’d love to see a new and different take on the radar, but not one that I feel misrepresents the character’s powers.

So, did you guys read the issue? If so, what did you think? I will admit to being slightly nervous about this being as close to a real reboot as this title has ever seen, but am certainly curious to see what these guys come up with, and though Soule’s She-Hulk was great.

Daredevil volumes 3 and 4: Nods to continuity

Matt recalls his past hardships, as seen in Daredevil #9 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

One thing I’ve always appreciated as a Daredevil fan is that the character’s history is fairly uncluttered. Unlike many other characters, he’s only ever had one book, save for a few mini-series, and his team involvements have been minor. While I certainly wouldn’t complain if we could somehow get even more Daredevil, he’s an easy character to get into, in part because you don’t need a spreadsheet to track his most important appearances.

Some of Matt Murdock’s adventures obviously stand out more than others, and a fair share of them are completely forgettable, which means that there are several key moments that later writers like to return to. In that sense, many of the nods to past continuity we’ve seen during volumes 3 and 4 are in no way unique to this run. Stories involving Matt’s relationship with his father are common, as are mentions of Stick, all the heinous stuff that Bullseye has put Daredevil through over the years. While I’ve appreciated the specifics of how these recurring bits of continuity have been included (see the adorable scene of Matt’s childhood below, courtesy of Javier Rodríguez), let’s take a look at some things that I felt set this most recent era apart.

Mike Murdock's hat and glasses appear in the background, as seen in Daredevil #2 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera
From Daredevil #2 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera

The Mike Murdock era, when Matt pretended to be his own made-up-on-the-spot identical twin – from Daredevil #25 through #41 (volume 1) – is regarded with an amused sense of disbelief by fans today. It’s the kind of story that seems like the complete opposite of what we associate with Daredevil today, which makes it difficult to address in any other way than through the use of clever Easter eggs. We’re not likely to see a scene in which Foggy questions Matt about the details of this particular ruse, because that would make it a little too real for comfort – as opposed to some kind of Silver Age hallucination – but it’s fun to play with. Even the very serious Netflix show did it (“Mike” was the name given to Matt by Claire, when he refused to give his real name), and during the Brubaker/Lark run, Matt used the name “Mike” to check in at the airport after breaking out of prison. Then again, his full name is Matthew Michael Murdock.

In the panel above, we see a different kind of jab at Mike Murdock, in the form of his hat and glasses. The same accessories appear in later issues as well, and it definitely put a smile on my face every time it did. It’s just a small detail that doesn’t really detract from the scene, but rewards longtime fans for their loyalty. Just as a good Easter egg should.

Daredevil battles Stilt-Man, as seen in Daredevil #17 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Mike Allred
From Daredevil #17 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Mike Allred

One aspect of the Silver Age madness that this run made sure to address more directly were the villains. Above, Matt fights Stilt-Man in a story set in the past, at a time when fighting Stilt-Man was a more regular occurrence. Of course, Daredevil also fought an upgraded Stilt-Man in the present alongside the Superior Spider-Man, but in both instances Mark Waid put an appropriate amount of distance between the goofier past and the more grounded present by the way Matt himself narrates the events. If you’re going to include something a little nuttier from the past, acknowledging the nuttiness of it all, in some way, is more or less required.

A different approach to using past villains, which used to great effect during this run, has been to dust them off and make them legitimate threats for the modern age. This will never work for Stilt-Man, who is inherently ill-conceived, but plenty of others have great potential for creepiness. Old Spider-Man villain the Spot has never been quite so disturbing (not to mention the similarly powered new character Coyote), and I loved the return of Klaw, who appeared in one single episode of Daredevil, decades ago. There was the update to Purple Man’s story (though he was always pretty disturbing), and many others. I thought this was a great way to use the past stories of not only this particular character, but the greater Marvel Universe.

Flash-back to Matt's childhood, as seen in Daredevil #28 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez
From Daredevil #28 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez

Another great use of the more obscure chapters of Daredevil history was the nod to Matt’s lecture at Carter College, about the legal implications of extra-terrestrial visitors to Earth (see below). Again, Matt treats the reminder with an appropriate amount horror, even commenting that he may not have been sober. The nod to past continuity is also wonderfully reflected by the art. For more on this, see my old post dealing with the same scene.

Matt recalls his old lecture about aliens and the legal system, as seen in Daredevil #30 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
From Daredevil #30 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

These are just a few examples of the many ways past continuity was treated, ever so lovingly, by the creators of volumes 3 and 4. What are your thoughts on this topic, and do you have a favorite little nugget that I didn’t mention here? Let the rest of us know in the comment section!

Daredevil volumes 3 and 4: The big issues

Foggy learns he has cancer, as seen in Daredevil #23, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Hey gang! I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to get to this next round of posts. The good news is that I’ve been working on all of them in parallel as I read my way through the last few years of Daredevil so, they’re all lined up to go. We’ll start with a quick one. Because, yes, volumes three and four dealt with quite a bit in terms of heavy stuff, but much of it was directly related to Matt’s mood. We’ll start there.

Right from the very first issue, when it was clear that the new era would set a lighter tone for Daredevil, Mark Waid made sure to remind us that Matt’s past issues were not all in the past. In fact, there were signs early on that Matt may have been putting on a front, for his own benefit as much as for those around him, as strongly hinted at below, in Daredevil #7 (vol 3).

Foggy catches Matt brooding, and "old Matt" is mentioned, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera
From Daredevil #7 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera

Of course, Matt’s balancing act didn’t go unnoticed by Foggy, who had been suspicious since the very beginning. Not only that, when he suspects that Matt has lost his mind – due to the machinations of Coyote and his teleporting powers – it isn’t his first rodeo. Matt’s mental health issues go back decades of Daredevil history, and it is easy to forgive Foggy for not giving Matt the benefit of the doubt.

Foggy confronts Matt, as seen in Daredevil #16 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
From Daredevil #16 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Fortunately, Matt and Foggy settle their differences, but just in time for Foggy to tell his friend that he may have cancer. Matt, of course, is with him when he finally gets the sad news.

Foggy learns he has cancer, as seen in Daredevil #23, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
From Daredevil #23 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

I wish that the Foggy cancer storyline could have received a better resolution, as it was put on the back burner for most of volume four, and then finished up a bit too quickly at the end. However, it did spawn some very strong issues along the way, and a very sweet back-up story in Daredevil #26 (vol 3). And, the children’s drawings are spectacularly rendered by Chris Samnee.

Foggy meets children with cancer, as seen in Daredevil #26 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
From Daredevil #26 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Another story that garnered a lot of attention – and added a great chapter to Daredevil continuity – was the one that looked at the reason why Sister Maggie left Matt as an infant. The young Maggie’s struggle with post-partum depression was deeply moving, and put the spotlight on a common, but often neglected issue.

Sister Maggie talks about her post-partum depression, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez
From Daredevil #7 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez

After finding balance again after his move to San Francisco, Matt is once again shaken to the core by the influence of the Purple children who project all of their torment onto him, and remind him of his own. This amounted to a study of depression that struck a chord with a lot of people.

Matt in despair, as seen in Daredevil #10 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
From Daredevil #10 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Personally, one of my favorite parts of this particular issue was the very end where Matt goes home and goes to bed. And this is where the reader initially thinks the issue ends. But, there’s more. A final page, following the letters’ page sees Matt finally reaching out, and we find out that Kirsten was there waiting for him all along.

Kirsten waiting outside Matt's door, as seen in Daredevil #10 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
From Daredevil #10 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Honorable mention

I thought I’d end with something that should no longer be a big issue, and give the creative team some major kudos for not treating it as such. Which kind of makes this an odd thing to put this list, but there it is. What am I talking about? Random characters who happen to be gay in roles that have nothing to do with them being gay. In Daredevil #2 (vol 3), we meet Matt’s professional acquaintance and his boyfriend, and in Daredevil #1 (vol 4), Matt saves a little girl who has two mothers, one of whom is the deputy mayor.

Daredevil seeks out a fellow lawyer and his boyfriend, in Daredevil #2 (vol 3) by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera
From Daredevil #2 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera

The female deputy mayor of San Francisco with her wife and daughter, as seen in Daredevil #1 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

That’s it for now! Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comment section!

The end of an era for Daredevil

It’s been over four years since Mark Waid came onboard as the writer of Daredevil, with the launch of volume 3. Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martín were his first partners in crime, with Martín supplying the artwork for the second arc (and one story in issue #1), while Rivera put his distinctive mark on the first and third arcs, including the stellar stand-alone Christmas issue, Daredevil #7. After the Omega Effect arc – a Daredevil/Punisher/Avenging Spider-Man crossover with art by Marco Checchetto – Chris Samnee came onboard. His first issue, Daredevil #12 (vol 3), is another one of my all time favorites, and Samnee would go on to outdo himself with almost every issue for the next three years. In addition to an already great roster, we had Javier Rodríguez, the colorist for most of volume 3 and much of volume 4, occasionally stepping in as the penciller – and doing a fantastic job of it – making sure that Daredevil kept looking consistently amazing.

Of course, I also want to mention Peter Krause’s artwork on the Road Warrior digital comic, Matt Wilson’s excellent work as the colorist of the tail end of volume 4 (he opened with a big splash of purple, my favorite color…), and the always excellent Joe Caramagna whose letters made me take note of this craft in ways I hadn’t previously. Last, but certainly not least, we have the editorial team and the guest artists I didn’t get to already, but for fear of missing anyone, I’ll just extend a big, collective “thank you” to everyone who contributed to the success of the last four years.

Foggy and Matt in their college dorm, from Daredevil #12, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

This era of Daredevil has been unique in many ways, and as much as I’m looking forward to seeing what Charles Soule and Ron Garney have in store for us in a new Daredevil #1 later this year, I suspect I will always look back on these past few years with a huge sense of nostalgia. The Other Murdock Papers has been up and running for almost eight years, and volumes 3 and 4 have covered more than half of that timespan. I don’t know if I’d been as inspired to keep blogging if there hadn’t consistently been so much great new material to talk about.

I’m also grateful that I’ve been able to meet Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Paolo Rivera in person. I have nothing but great things to say about these guys, and how generous they’ve been with their time at conventions and in conversations online. (And the fact that I actually had a cameo appearance in an issue still inspires awe among my friends who don’t even read comics. It definitely ranks among the coolest things that has ever happened to me. Is that sad? Naw, I think it’s awesome.) 😉

I make a cameo appearance in Daredevil #31 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

I initially figured I would write one post listing all the things that I’ve enjoyed about this run, but I quickly realized that would take much more than just one post if I wanted it to be exhaustive. So for the next couple of weeks, I’d like to return to each of the points below so I can delve into them a little deeper. Because there’s so much to say that doing it all at once would be overwhelming, and you guys would have to wait even longer for this already overdue back-from-hiatus post. What I will do is list each thing I wanted to get back to, and maybe you guys would even like to weigh in with your own examples in the comments.

  1. The artwork

    Matt's hand hesitates, then reaches for his phone, as seen in Daredevil #10 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    I know, a discussion of the artwork alone could easily cover several posts, and if you’re itching to read something that has me gushing about the brilliance of Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee, there are several older posts I could refer you to. I’ll put a list of recommended reading at the end of the post.

    In essence, though, what has really made the artwork stand out to me, in particularly during Samnee’s tenure, has been the complete merging of words and pictures. Of course, this is the kind of experience that comics, at its best, should always deliver, but few do it as smoothly and beautifully as we’ve seen over the last few years. Pick almost any Daredevil comic from this run, and you’d fairly easily be able to understand the story, including at least the gist of individual conversations, without even reading the words. It’s been visual story-telling at its finest, and has kept me coming back to reread every issue, just to enjoy all the little details.

  2. The tone

    expectations_featured

    This is probably be the most controversial item on this list, as I know people disagree about what constitutes the perfect tone for this character. I know many people first started reading Daredevil with volume 3, and for them, this is “their” Daredevil. Many other fans view the Bendis run, for instance, as the quintessential Daredevil. Some of those fans have enjoyed the last few years as much as I have, and some have not. That’s fine. As a Daredevil completist, I don’t consider the tone of this run as extreme in any way. It’s had its lighter moments – much needed considering the dark era that preceded it – and it’s dealt with serious topics as well. True, the events of Daredevil #14 (vol 4) were too whimsical for me personally, and aside from several great moments (which I may return to), this final story arc has not been my cup of tea. However, this in no way lessens my profound enthusiasm for the vast majority of the issues that came before, and I feel that the tone has mostly been spot on. There are many different ways to write this character and still remain true to the core of who he is, and this creative team has done a better job of exploring Matt Murdock and his friends than most.

  3. Perfect pacing and thrilling twists

    Ikari reveals his secret, as seen in Daredevil #25 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    Over the last four years, buying an issue of Daredevil has almost guaranteed the reader good value for their hard-earned money. This is probably not the most exciting way to talk about a work of art, but with the relatively high cost of comics for the few minutes it takes to read each issue, it’s always appreciated when every single read is a satisfying read. While still mostly conforming to the modern format of stories that span several issue, each issue has stood well on its own.

    I’ve already mentioned the quality of the artwork, but here I also want to point out Mark Waid’s incredible talent for plotting a story and getting the pacing of it just right. He’s never been afraid to let a quiet moment take the time it needs, at the same time making sure that no single page is wasted. This makes the big reveals feel all the more gratifying, and the twists so much more shocking. See the panel above. ‘Nuff said.

  4. The big issues

    Three panels of Daredevil's fist planted firmly against the ground, as seen in Daredevil #10 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    I mentioned this briefly while talking about tone, but I think it needs its own heading (and subsequent post). This creative team is not the first to bring up Matt’s fragile mental health, but perhaps the first to attempt to explore it this fully. The examination of Daredevil’s depression has moved so many readers, including yours truly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually saved lives. Add to that the story which dealt with Sister Maggie’s tragic reasons for leaving Matt as a baby, Foggy’s cancer and many other themes with real-world implications, and there’s been plenty of reason to stay invested in these stories.

  5. Nods to continuity

    Matt remembers his lecture at Carter College, from Daredevil #30 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    It’s always great when you can tell that the creative team are true fans of the character they’re working on, and can use the treasure trove that is fifty years of comic book history to ground the characters in that history and make nods to the greater Marvel Universe. On the other hand, you always want to make sure the stories don’t put up unnecessary barriers for new readers. Daredevil has struck the perfect balance, with plenty of nods to Daredevil history for the longtime fan to enjoy that don’t exclude newcomers. This run has also seen the use of old villains which have been dusted off and made more interesting, and threatening, in the process.

  6. Matt Murdock, the blind guy

    Matt talks about how he handles money, from Daredevil #22 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    This last item is probably not a surprise coming from me, but I know I’m far from the only one who has appreciated a serious and insightful handling of this topic. Mark Waid pretty much proves the observation I made long before 2011 that the creators who pay the most attention to properly exploring Daredevil’s senses tend to be the same ones who know how to handle the limitations of those senses. Really trying to get into Matt Murdock’s head will usually lead to insight into both of these inter-related domains, and I know Waid has spent a lot of time thinking about these issues.

    The way of visually depicting Matt’s radar sense during this run, introduced by Paolo Rivera, has also gone a long way to establish a new standard that works really well, and helps the reader better understand the difference between Matt Murdock’s “view” of the world, and the norm. I really hope that the incoming creative team will draw inspiration from these guys when it comes to this aspect of the character.

That’s it for now! As I mentioned, I will return to a deeper discussion of each of the items on the list, but please feel free to speak you mind on anything and everything related to the last four years in the comment section.

Thank you for reading and thank you to the Daredevil creative team for a spectacular four years!

List of recommended art posts:

Countdown to Daredevil on Netflix: Cinematic influences

This post is a guest post by Cameron Carpenter, screenwriter, cinephile and self-professed “Sidney Lumet enthusiast.” Cameron and I follow each other on Twitter – find him under his Twitter handle @Lumetian – and I’ve long been impressed with his vast knowledge of topics I sadly know little about. So, I asked Cameron if he’d be interesting in writing a piece for The Other Murdock Papers, and am so very grateful that he agreed. If you have any questions for Cameron, ask them in the comment section or get in touch with him on Twitter!

When the Marvel press release attached Steven DeKnight’s name to the news of becoming Drew Goddard’s replacement on Daredevil, I’ll admit to being skeptical. It had nothing to do with DeKnight’s previous filmography – which is rock solid with Starz’s Spartacus, alone – but more so because I was unaware of DeKnight’s personal history with Matt Murdock. Goddard, even before coming on board the show, had been on record about his love for the character; the fact he’s also a tremendous Hollywood talent was the double-blessing. But DeKnight eventually quelled my fears and revealed his passion for Daredevil… and then took my excitement to the next level: cinematic influences.

Before much had been revealed about Daredevil (the summer of 2014), I tweeted to DeKnight a question I’d secretly hoped a Daredevil cinematic endeavor would answer: would there be a Sidney Lumet influence on the show?

For those unaware, Sidney Lumet was one of the powerhouse filmmakers for a number of decades in Hollywood. Even if you don’t know him by name, you probably know his films: 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict, Prince of the City, and a bevy of other classics. Before Woody Allen trotted the New York streets with his comic neuroses, before Martin Scorsese ran gangsters up and down Manhattan alleys, and before Spike Lee found the poetic undercurrent of the Brooklyn ghetto, Sidney Lumet was the king of New York filmmakers with pictures that spanned themes of corruption, justice, law, poverty, isolation, and greed. He’s not only responsible for some of American cinema’s most nuanced and conflicted protagonists, but was noted for his means of shooting performances from legendary talent and painting New York city as it truly was: robust, full of life, enigmatic, sweltering, and downright grimy.

His films went on to greatly influence the industry, even if his name was never uttered. But the fact remains: shows like Law and Order and The Wire likely wouldn’t exist without Sidney Lumet, and definitely wouldn’t feel as they do without his particular style. If ever you needed the Daredevil experience on film – particularly runs similar to Miller/Nocenti/Bendis – you could find its lifeblood in Lumet’s work.

So after our first exchange, in which DeKnight was dastardly coy, he finally answered another question of mine more directly, namedropping two films in particular that he cited as influences: Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon and William Friedkin’s masterful The French Connection. Friedkin, another wallop of a director whose films you likely know even if you don’t recognize the name (The Exorcist, Sorcerer), is without a doubt another solid choice for material.

And while DeKnight has never outwardly stated anything about Martin Scorsese (at least to my knowledge), Taxi Driver and Goodfellas seem to have their fingerprints all over the trailers, and I wouldn’t put it past the show’s directors to be using Raging Bull for any sequences starring Battlin’ Jack Murdock. With this kind of universe of blood-and-guts gangsters and goons, you can never go wrong with Scorsese’s touch, especially if you’re working with Lumet-style characters and landscape. (Funnily enough, from what we’ve seen and heard of D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, he appears mostly like Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle – unstable, violent, and romantically conflicted- more so than any gangster from Goodfellas.)

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t completely the first time a comic book director has taken to these influences: Christopher Nolan, a massive Sidney Lumet fan, used Lumet’s Prince of the City as a blueprint for The Dark Knight Rises.

As far as general imagery goes, the trailers are definitely in that House of Cards/David Fincher vein, which will be adequately serviceable, especially with directors of photography like Matthew Lloyd working the camera. Aesthetic for Daredevil is undeniably important and this particular means of scene-painting, from what we’ve seen so far, works as far as separating the series from the bouncy, inviting semblance of Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter, but never feels as if its out of place given the nature of the narrative and that bold TV-MA rating. And giving the show a feel of the next House of Cards is never a bad idea, especially considering it’s calling Netflix its home.

To conclude, if you’ve been having any fears about the general look and tone of the new show as being “too dark” or not of the spirit of the character, I would say, just by DeKnight’s working list of influences and from what we’ve seen so far, we’re very much stepping into the realm of Miller/Bendis characterizations of the character, and in those cases, DeKnight’s hands seem to be exceptionally capable ones.

See you, April 10th.

Recommended stand-alone issues of Daredevil

For my first proper countdown post – as we await the release of all thirteen episodes of Daredevil on April 10 – I wanted to take a look at some of my favorite stand-alone issues of Daredevil. Not all of these are perfectly self-contained, of course, but they stand well enough on their own that you don’t need to know much going in, and you get a full story with each issue. The issues I chose for this list also meet the criteria of being reasonably friendly to new readers and at least minimally relevant to the Netflix series.

That last bit would really only exclude stand-alone issues like Daredevil #92 (vol 2) which is told from the perspective of Milla Donovan and deals with her and Matt’s relationship. It wouldn’t make my list anyway, but since Milla isn’t going to be in the Netflix series, I wouldn’t even consider it.

Having said that, I should also mention that while technical quality is certainly an important consideration, I’ve put greater emphasis on whether these issues have important things to say about Daredevil and/or other characters or can serve as a good introduction to Matt Murdock and his world. Let’s get started! All issues are listed in chronological order, not by individual merit.

Exposé (Daredevil #164, vol 1)

This issue, written by Roger McKenzie, and penciled by a very young Frank Miller does require some background information going in, namely that Ben Urich is a journalist who, over several issues, has begun to piece together that Matt Murdock and Daredevil may be one and the same. Daredevil is in the hospital after a recent bout with the Hulk, but that’s not really relevant to what happens next, which is that Urich confronts Daredevil with his findings. After Daredevil fails to identify a photograph of his father, he confesses and begins to tell the journalist about his life.

Ben Urich confronts Daredevil in Daredevil #164 by Roger McKenzie and Frank Miller

This issue marks the beginning of the close relationship between Matt and Ben, and is important to the continued stories of both characters. Ben Urich gradually uncovering Daredevil’s true identity was an important plot element in the 2003 Daredevil movie, and we can likely expect elements of the same in the coming Netflix series where Ben Urich – played by Vondie Curtis-Hall – is a central character. If you want to know how it all began, and get a bonus recap of Daredevil’s origin, this is a good place to start. I’ve also written extensively about this issue and the ones leading up to it in the post “Meet Ben Urich” from 2008.

Where can I find it? This issue is included in the first volume of the Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller trade paperback, as well as other collections that cover the same era. It is also available on the Marvel Unlimited digital platform.

Roulette (Daredevil #191, vol 1)

Daredevil #191, written and penciled by Frank Miller (with inks by Terry Austin) may be my very favorite single issue of Daredevil. It is the perfect stand-alone story in that, while it certainly helps to know who Daredevil and his nemesis Bullseye are, it’s not crucial to appreciating the story. The artwork, with generous amount of negative space, interesting panel layouts and elegant simplicity, is the perfect match for a story that does a perfect job of nailing down, defining and explaining Matt Murdock.

Daredevil and Bullseye, as seen in Daredevil #191 by Frank Miller

This issue showcases his fears and weaknesses through the torment he suffers, not just in the wake of Elektra’s death, but in the way he feels complicit in the shooting of a young boy by being, not just a hero, but a role model for violence. I have nothing negative to say about this issue, it’s as close to perfection as they come, and it’s truly innovative in its approach. See also my previous post on this very issue.

Where can I find it? This issue is also easy to find in the many collection that cover this era. Of course, it’s also available on the Marvel Unlimited digital platform.

Promises (Daredevil #192, vol 1)

Another great one-shot is writer Alan Brennert’s sole contribution to the Daredevil archives, with art provided by Klaus Janson. It’s just a nice little slice-of-life story focusing on Ben Urich (more so than Exposé above, which is really more about Daredevil’s own story), but also featuring plenty of insight into Daredevil, as well as the Kingpin who also makes an appearance. You also get a great sense of Daredevil’s world and the corruption that runs rampant in it. The story revolves around good people doing good, good people doing bad, and the many shades of gray in between. It also reminds us never to presume to know what anyone else is going through, and doing the best with what we have. It is a tale which is both tragic and optimistic, and surprisingly moving.

Daredevil and Ben Urich talking, from Daredevil #192 by Alan Brennert and Klaus Janson

Where can I find it? This issue hasn’t never been collected and isn’t available through Marvel’s online channels so look for it in back issue bins.

The Price (Daredevil #223, vol 1)

On the surface, The Price, by Denny O’Neil and David Mazzucchelli, may appear a little campy. The Beyonder appears in Matt and Foggy’s office and asks them to argue his case, a case that is pretty much based on the alien visitor’s wish to own the entire world. It’s certainly a little out there. As is what happens to Daredevil during the course of the issue when the powerful Beyonder restores his sight.

Matt has his sight back in Daredevil #223 by Denny O'Neil and David Mazzucchelli

The outlandish aspects of the story aside, this issue is surprisingly moving. It’s really the first time that Matt has had his sight back and actually been able to enjoy it for any length of time. The experience is also pretty heartbreaking for out main character who has to deal with some delayed grief when he realizes exactly what it is he’s been missing all these years. In the end though, he decides that he cares about his principles even more than this new gift. It’s pretty powerful stuff and says a lot about the character. I’ve written about this issue before as well.

Where can I find it? This issue hasn’t never been collected and isn’t available through Marvel’s online channels so look for it in back issue bins.

34 Hours (Daredevil #304, vol 1)

On the title page, 34 Hours is introduced as “A story about New York.” This sums up the issue well, and also explains why I love it so much. I like this issue almost as much as Roulette, as they both do a fantastic job of stripping away the fuss and focusing on what makes Daredevil such a great character. Aside from that, the two issues really don’t have much in common though. Where Roulette is tragic, 34 Hours is brimming with optimism. The latter issue, by D.G. Chichester and Ron Garney, is also much more traditional in its format.

Panel from Daredevil #304, by D.G. Chichester and Ron Garney

I’ve written about this issue before as well so I recommend giving that post a read for more information on this tale of a day in the life of New York and the title character!

Where can I find it? Sadly, this issue hasn’t been collected either and also isn’t available through Marvel’s online channels so look for it in back issue bins.

Honorable mentions

Other issues that meet the above criteria, and can be found in collected editions and digitally through Marvel, are the following:

  • Daredevil #1, vol 1

    The very first issue of Daredevil, by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, is actually pretty good. It does a good job of introducing this brand new character, uses quite sophisticated storytelling techniques, and obviously managed to capture enough interest to make up for the very inconsistent quality of the first couple of years of the title.

  • Guts (Daredevil #185, vol 1)

    This is a clever Frank Miller issue (inks by Klaus Janson), that focuses almost entirely on Foggy Nelson, as he sets about doing his own crime fighting. While I like this issue, it has to be said that most modern readers have gotten used to seeing Foggy as a more serious character compared to how he appears here, but it’s still a good read. For another, more recent take on Foggy, see The Secret Life of Foggy Nelson (Daredevil #88, vol 2), by Ed Brubaker and David Aja

  • Return of the King: Prologue (Daredevil #116, vol 2)

    Also by Ed Brubaker and David Aja, this issue is all about the Kingpin, and his new life in Spain where he finds love again after the death of his wife Vanessa. It all comes to a tragic end, of course, but the story really highlights the complex nature of the Kingpin, something which appears to be a big part of the Netflix series.

  • Daredevil #7, vol 3

    This stand-alone Christmas issue by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera is another favorite of mine. Waid and Rivera skillfully take Matt out of his element as he goes on a school trip with a class of blind school children and they’re stranded in the woods after a bad bus accident. I like the idea of Matt doing volunteer work. It goes well with a character who’s always cared about his community, regardless of what costume he’s wearing.

Well, that’s it! What did you guys think of my choices and what are some other issues you’d like to add to the list? Let the rest of us know in the comment section!