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!

Memorable Daredevil moments from 2013

With the year coming to a close within a few short hours, I thought I’d just look back briefly at 2013 and talk about the things on the Daredevil front that, to me, stood out the most. I will include both things that happened to the character(s) in the comic, the title itself and beyond. So, here are some random categories that I hope will make for a good summary of 2013!

Most surprising news: The Daredevil Netflix series

NetflixMarvel

After the Daredevil movie rights went back to Marvel last year (i.e. in the fall of 2012), things were pretty quiet for a while. It wasn’t until April of this year, that Marvel publicly confirmed what most had correctly assumed. And, even then, the confirmation left no clues to what Marvel intended to do with their “new” property. While many of us had been hoping for a television show, that seemed like a pipe dream, and if there was going to be a new movie, it would certainly have to wait for years.

So, when it was announced that Marvel had struck at deal with online streaming service Netflix for a full package of four new Marvel series – and that Daredevil was one of them – I will admit to being floored by the news. We now also know that Drew Goddard has been confirmed as the series showrunner, as well as the director of the pilot episode. I have yet to give any sort of full treatment of my own thoughts on the upcoming television series, which will premiere in 2015, but I still intend to devote a full podcast to that. I hope to be able to squeeze that in before too long!

Most devastating story devlopment: Foggy’s cancer diagnosis

Sad panel of Foggy, from Daredevil #22 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

While Foggy’s diagnosis still seems recent to me, perhaps because the mild shock of it hasn’t completely worn off yet, Foggy actually broke the news in the very first issue of the year, January’s Daredevil #22.

We have since learned that Foggy has a form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a cancer of the bones that rarely affects adults. Even though this storyline has been ongoing since, we still don’t know the severity of the situation, although last month’s cliffhanger was sure to send chills down the spines of most fans.

Most shocking villain return: Bullseye in a jar

Wall of news clippings, from Daredevil #24 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Okay, so Mark Waid made sure to drop plenty of clues for this one, but I’ll admit it, I was still shocked when the mastermind behind many of Matt’s woes up until that point were revealed to have been plotted by his arch villain (and for the record, I still think Death-Stalker was a very good guess!).

Not only did I not see Bullseye as much of a schemer – though I do, in retrospect, buy the premise that extreme circumstances might steer him in that direction – but he was also dead. True, in comics, death is something you occasionally recover from, especially in the presence of ninjas. But still. Either way, this team did good. The string of issues that came out in the spring were amazing, and left me a very happy camper. It also brings me to…

Twistiest twist: “Try the red one”

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

Not only did Daredevil #25 prove to me that an issue consisting almost entirely by a single fight scene could be as mind-blowingly good as it was (thanks in great part to Chris Samnee’s amazing choreography, starting with this very issue he and Waid have been credited as co-storytellers), it also contained one of those shocking reveals that I, for one, did not see coming. Neither did Daredevil, who demonstrates a look of stunned horror at the realization that his new foe Ikari is everything he is and more – he can see!

Best use of old continuity: Matt at Carter College

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

This one really cracked my up. As you may recall, I discussed the old issue that these panels were taken from in a previous post, when the preview for Daredevil #30 came out. The issue itself focuses more heavily on the meeting between Daredevil and the Silver Surface (which I hereby nominate for the “Most unlikely team-up category,” in a tie with the Legion of Monsters), and their beautiful and breathless chase through New York, but I absolutely loved the way Waid & Co. payed homage to an old tale by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. The old issue, Daredevil #28, is full of crazy, but this creative team managed to update it for a new era, while poking gentle fun at the original story.

Biggest sigh of relief: New run, same great creative team!

Part of the cover to the new Daredevil #1, by Chris Samnee

Over the last few months, Daredevil fans were sent on an emotional roller-coaster. After hints of exciting things to come for Daredevil’s 50th anniversary in 2014, it was suddenly announced that the current ongoing series would end with Daredevil #36, which is due out in February. After that, there was no news at all for a while and it was all pretty nerve-wracking. We first learned of an upcoming digital series, Daredevil: Road Warrior, by Mark Waid and Peter Krause, before a new volume of the title was announced, with the same beloved creative team attached.

While I had a strong hunch this was coming, I was very relieved to see it confirmed. The launch of the new series will coincide with some major changes in Matt Murdock’s life, including a move to San Francisco. Personally, I’m really excited about this and happy to see the whole team still so committed to the character. (It has since been revealed that we will lose one key team member though, in the form of editor Steve Wacker who will move to the Marvel Animation side of the business on the west coast.)

In conclusion…

This list could easily have been much longer, but alas, I have a New Year’s Eve party to get to, so I’ll have to round it off here! On a more personal note, a real highlight for me this year was my trip to Baltimore for the Baltimore Comic Con, which was easily the best con I’ve been to, and not only because I got to meet Mark Waid and Chris Samnee! I was also truly honored to be given a cameo appearance in Daredevil #31 as one of the jurors. All my friends were very impressed! 😉

What did you guys think of all the things that happened this year? Let the rest of us know in the comments! And Happy New Year! I will see you in 2014, I just know it’s going to be exciting. 😀

15 favorite Chris Samnee Daredevil moments

Matt and Foggy in college, as seen in Daredevil #12 (vol 3), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Hey everyone! As mentioned, I wanted to do a post covering some of my favorite moments from Chris Samnee’s run as Daredevil artist. Now seems like the perfect time since, as of Daredevil #20, Samnee officially became the most prolific artist of the relaunched Daredevil; his seven issues thus far beats Paolo Rivera’s six, and Marcos Martín’s three. There’s also been a long line of guest artists, such as Khoi Pham (Daredevil #10.1, and 13), Kano (Daredevil #8), Marco Checchetto (Daredevil #11), and Michael Allred (Daredevil #17).

Since list posts are all the rage these days – actually, they have been for years – I thought I’d make this a list post. However, this list won’t actually rank anything or present anything in any kind of order. Each panel or set of panels will just be a very arbitrary “best of” whatever category I find appropriate. And yes, even the categories are arbitrary. And possibly just a tad irreverent. Here goes!

  1. Best eye exam

    Hank Pym gets an eye exam, from Daredevil #16 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    I can’t help it. I smile every time I look at this panel. It’s the bulging eye, and Doctor Strange’s rough handling of Hank Pym that reminds you of a stern parent attacking a pre-schooler with a delousing comb. While Strange making a penlight out of his finger (“E.T. go home!”) is a nice touch, it’s really the eyeball that does it for me.

  2. Best cup of tea

    Matt brews a cup of tea, from Daredevil #18 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    Actually, this really isn’t a good cup of tea at all. I mean, it has drugs in it. Still, if I ever wanted to spike a cup of tea, I’d have Chris Samnee draw the graphic novel adaptation of my true crime story. As I mentioned when we talked about these particular panels on the podcast, you can almost “hear” sound effects that are not even there, showing that even the simplest of scenes benefit from a great artist who doesn’t seem to mind spending the extra time making them stand out.

  3. Best use of mucus

    Foggy crying, from Daredevil #12, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    I was going to name this “best display of emotion” or something along those lines. Then I realized that it really is the snot and saliva situation that sells this scene. Foggy isn’t just sad, he’s drooling-into-his-pillow inconsolable. It’s a beautiful thing.

  4. Best radar scene

    Radar scene, from Daredevil #16, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    You knew there had to be a radar scene on this list, right? While Samnee may have had the concept for the radar passed down from Paolo Rivera, I really do like his take on it. The radar lines seem a little thicker and the way he obscures the finer details of characters’ faces really works for me. In the scene above, we see Matt’s radar kick into action for the first time and the transition from just barely there to something more tangible is very cool.

  5. Most unusual panel shape

    Foggy through a fisheye lens, from Daredevil #18 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    It’s a fisheye lens effect! With Foggy in it! What’s not to love?

  6. Best indecent exposure

    Indecent exposure, from Daredevil #12, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    So, can you sue someone for sexual harassment in the workplace even if you don’t technically work together? If so, Matt might have a case against Kirsten McDuffie. This scene is very funny and, yes, very “hot.” I love that she went to the trouble of getting one that says “YOU ARE DAREDEVIL” on it, even though that might take away from the realism. As a visual gag, it’s a good one!

  7. Best performance by a headless actor

    Headless Daredevil struts his stuff, from Daredevil #20 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    This is such a great Daredevil moment. His fearlessness extends to keeping his head cool even when said head isn’t even attached to his body. Thanks to Chris Samnee’s perfect rendition of the two-point touch technique (yes, I notice those things…), Matt’s headless body looks like a text-book example of a blind guy missing a head.

  8. Best dive

    Daredevil dives across a fence, from Daredevil #14, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    Daredevil is all about elegance, even when he’s missing all of his senses. Yeah, that’s how much of a show-off he is. He should take that dive to the Olympics, I tell ya.

  9. Best picture (within a picture)

    Photo of Nelson & Murdock, from Daredevil #18 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    You’ve gotta love this one. So funny, yet very much in character. I hope we get to see more of it!

  10. Best horror scene

    Coyote feeds a pile of heads, from Daredevil #20 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    Much has been said about this scene, the one preceding it (where we meet these unfortunate heads for the first time), and the whole issue. Waid writes a great horror story and Samnee does a great job bringing it to life. This is morbid and disgusting and oh so pretty.

  11. Best cameo

    Javíer Rodríguez smuggling drugs, from Daredevil #20 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    While I loved the Kuljit (as in Kuljit Mithra who runs ManWithoutFear.com) cameo in Daredevil #14, the one above – picturing colorist Javíer Rodríguez – has to be the winner of the two, if only for the attitude and the absurdity of the scene. Stuffing drugs into pregnant women’s bellies is hard to beat.

  12. Best friendship origin scene

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

    This scene is all about contrast. I love all the little details on Foggy’s side of the room: the messy blankets, the loose sock and his hand shoved into a bag of snacks. Matt, on the other hand, is on the other extreme. You almost feels as sorry for Foggy as you do for Matt. I guess opposites really do attract. 😉

  13. Best grumpy face

    Foggy does his angry face, from Daredevil #18 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    Chris Samnee is an expert at conveying the emotions of the characters and this has to be my favorite angry Foggy face.

  14. Best lab outfit

    Hank Pym in costume and labcoat, from Daredevil #19 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    I’ve worked in a couple of different research labs (in genetics and biochemistry) and I have a secret for you: I hardly ever wore a lab coat. Of course, there was also that unfortunate incident where I didn’t wear gloves for a DNA extraction and spilled phenol on my hand (washed it off with polyethylene glycol in seconds though so it didn’t scar), but that’s a story for another day. What I guess I’m trying to say is that lab coats are not as mandatory in research labs as people might think. But, more people should definitely wear superhero costumes under their lab coats. It’s a great look. And, it comes with gloves.

  15. Best low-budget prop

    Daredevil sporting a clothespin, from Daredevil #19 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

    There was a time when Daredevil’s billy club was full of stuff. Not all of it was terribly useful, but there’s no denying that a clothespin comes in handy in stinky environments. And, you’ve got to love the look!

That’s all folks! What are some of your favorite moments from the last few issues? Let the rest of us know in the comments! Oh, and before I go, I just wanted to let you know that Robert of The Matt Murdock Chronicles finally got through reviewing the entire first volume of Daredevil. I’m impressed!

10 things that had me excited for the relaunch

The ten things that had me excited for the relaunch? As in, the don’t excite me anymore? Hardly! The idea for this post is just to take a look back at the little countdown series I did in July of last year, just as we were waiting for the new Daredevil #1 to come out. Which things on the list excite me even more now and are there any that have fallen short of what I had expected?

Below is the list of topics I brought up then (click each heading to go to the original post), and my thoughts on what’s happened since. Obviously, when it comes to the series as a whole, it has by far surpassed my expectations. As spoiled as we Daredevil fans often are, I can’t remember a time during my seven years of reading Daredevil on an ongoing basis that I’ve been as eagerly awaiting each issue as I am right now. Nor can I remember being as compelled to read each issue over and over again. But, enough gushing, let’s get down to business.

Paolo Rivera’s radar

While this new way of drawing the radar sense has since become standard – guest artists like Emma Rios (Spider-Man #677) and Kano (Daredevil #8) replicated it and now Chris Samnee can be seen doing the same thing – it was Rivera who first introduced it. The panel that originally caught my attention and became the inspiration for the original post was the one of Daredevil “looking” at the Spot (see below), and I know I wasn’t the only one whose jaw dropped at the sight of it.

Matt "looks" at a very hollowed out Spot in Daredevil #1. Art by Paolo Rivera

Needless to say, the way the entire art team has dedicated themselves to trying to portray Daredevil’s senses has been a constant source of joy. What makes the radar sense in particular so difficult to convey is that it consists only of relative depths, and a sense of absence versus presence while lacking color information. The way us real life sighted humans go about things is to construct a sense of space from a two-dimensional color or grayscale image (using binocular vision, motion parallax and other clues) where colors and nuances tell us everything.

In many ways, these two ways of seeing are each other’s complete opposites. One constructs a sense of space from an image, the other constructs an image from a sense of space. One is also a perfect fit for the comic book page whereas the other forces artists to come up with the kind of topographic representation that Paolo Rivera pulls off here. While it can never be more than a model for imagining the unimaginable, it is a very fine representation. The image of the Spot here was indeed the start of something great.

“A fresh new voice”

My second post in the series found its inspiration in a quote by Mark Waid. When asked by Marvel.com what his mission statement was for the new series, he said, among other things: “And, with luck, to do what Frank Miller did 30 years ago: bring a fresh new voice to the series that’s respectful but not in any way imitative of what’s gone before.”

This is certainly something that Waid has been very successful in doing. The book as it is now is a very different read compared to what we’ve seen in the last few years. At the same time – and this is the amazing part – almost all fans have welcomed the change. Apparently, what the new creative team has brought to the table was something fans wanted and needed without even knowing it. Many have come out and said that they were skeptical of the changes before finding themselves firmly onboard.

At the same time, I have to admit to frequently wincing in disagreement (I think I just came up with a new expression…) whenever I hear anyone compare this run to the classic original run by Stan Lee or anything else from the Silver Age. I don’t quite understand why fans and critics are so eager to try to label it at all. The comparison with Stan Lee’s run is so superficial that it completely misses everything that’s great about this book right now. Even worse, I think that using labels like swashbuckling, and “classic superhero” actually risks alienating many people who might actually enjoy these recent Daredevil issues. It’s not that they miss the mark, but that they are insufficient when it comes to describing what I feel is very multi-dimensional body of work.

Panel from Daredevil #8, by Mark Waid and Kano

Yes, volume three of Daredevil is fun, has lots of fantastic action, and a new brighter outlook for the main character. At the same time, these tales have not been superficial or inconsequential. They may be fun, but they are never goofy. And Matt may smile more often, but there is still a definite sense of his being a man desperately struggling to regain control of his life. None of the characters are caricatures, they are creations of genuine depth and the stories told about them make you care about what happens next. I suspect that it’s these qualities that have made seasoned fans want to stick around because the best Daredevil stories have always been the ones that are the most character-driven. The reason Mark Waid has been able to shake things up the way he has is because he has such a firm grasp of who Matt Murdock is. That’s what I believe readers appreciate.

A blind hero who’s actually, you know, blind

This was also inspired by a quote by Mark Waid. One of many, in fact, that have touched on the fact that Daredevil is not just about amazing heightened senses, fighting skills and athletic prowess. There’s also the too rarely touched on, yet blatantly obvious, fact that the character’s blindness carries with it real consequences. For much too long, Matt’s blindness has been dealt with – to the extent that it’s been dealt with at all – as something that is completely offset by his heightened senses or simply as a matter of esthetics. I guess many creators have just seen him as “differently sighted” and never stopped to think about what that really means.

Matt talks about his computer, from Daredevil #5 by Mark Waid and Marcos Martín

While Daredevil’s heightened senses, the radar in particular, leaves his level of mobility unaffected or even improved (except for when it comes to driving or finding a particular location in an unfamiliar area), the average person has access to a wealth of visual information that lies firmly beyond Matt Murdock’s grasp. The areas that Mark Waid has focused on the most in interviews has been the increasing significance of screen-based information in modern society and this is clearly one of the more obvious things that would present a problem to someone who perceives only depths and shapes. Waid has also talked about how getting inside Matt’s head is something he comes back to time and time again in whatever situations he finds himself in and I’m just incredibly grateful that he brings this level dedication to the task of writing this complex character.

As any regular reader of this blog knows, this is a topic of great interest to me. However, it’s been gratifying to realize that I’m not the only one who seems to care. I’ve read countless reviews where critics have pointed out how it’s become much more obvious these days that Daredevil can’t see and every single one of them has intended such statements as compliments.

Big art

This was an art appreciation post. More specifically, my appreciation was aimed at the preview images of Marcos Martín’s two-page spread that featured Matt and Foggy walking across the page, as well as the Daredevil and Captain America spread from Daredevil #2, by Paolo Rivera. Obviously, I’m still digging the art and how splash pages, when they used in the current run, are not only stunning to look at but have an obvious purpose. Too often in comics, big brawl spreads, while usually nice to look at, come across as filler. I’m sure they take ages for the artist to complete, but when used too often and in lieu of plot progression they make for an unfulfilling and much too brief reading experience.

Rather than go back to the pages featured in the original post, below you’ll find some examples of “big art” (as I jokingly phrased it in the original post) we’ve seen since then. On the left is an example from Daredevil #2, and on the right is one from Daredevil #9, both by Paolo Rivera (inks by Joe Rivera and colors by Javier Rodríguez, of course). Another page that would fit in well right here is that great looking first page from Daredevil #12, by Chris Samnee that I talked about in my last post.

Two-page spread from Daredevil #2, by Paolo Rivera Two-page spread from Daredevil #9, by Paolo Rivera

The cast

Ah, the cast. You know how I feel about the supporting cast, the book wouldn’t be complete without it and there is plenty to indicate that Matt’s friends and associates will take on even bigger roles in coming issues. We have newcomers in the form of Kirsten McDuffie (and let’s not forget that Foggy has played nookie with her room mate), and Austin Cao, in addition to good old Foggy Nelson. One thing that Mark Waid mentioned early on though was that the law firm was going to have a very annoying new secretary. We’ve met the secretary – in Daredevil #4 – but haven’t seen much of her annoying side just yet. In general, this would be the only item on the list where the full potential has yet to be realized. I expect this to change in coming months though.

Kirsten asks Matt out, from Daredevil #7 by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera

No more ninjas

Speaking of the cast, it also consists of a growing list of villains. And there’s not a ninja in sight! The Hand and the Kingpin are excellent adversaries for Daredevil and when either one makes a return, I’m sure something good will come of it. If that’s not for a few years though, that’s totally fine with me.

Mark Waid has received some flak for pitting Daredevil against what might appear to be goofy, old-fashioned villains. However, it must be said that most of the criticism has come before anyone’s seen them in action. Klaw was creepy as hell, and even Mole Man comes across as something from a horror movie. They are certainly no laughing matter and the stories they appear in are well-crafted. I will definitely admit to initially being a bit hesitant about the names that were being thrown around before the relaunch – even while I applauded Waid’s decision to forego ninjas – but it’s clear at this point that there was no reason to worry. Right now, I’m so confident in Waid’s ability to make the inclusion of any villain seem logical that I’d even welcome back Stilt-Man. Maybe. 😉

A really creepy shot of Mole Man, from Daredevil #9 by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera

A cane that actually looks like a white cane

This was one of those things that probably wouldn’t strike most readers as a particularly big deal, but I will honestly say that it would have bugged the heck out of me if they hadn’t gotten it right. Thankfully, they did. Paolo Rivera even managed to make the cane work believably as a billy club without sacrificing the qualities of either one. Not much to say here except, bravo!

Matt uses a proper white cane in Daredevil #1, by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera

The internal monologue

I really liked Ed Brubaker’s use of (lots of) internal dialogues for Matt, and it was something I missed for most of Diggle’s run. When used well, those little caption boxes make us feel closer to the character(s), and in the case of Daredevil, the internal monologue becomes yet another way for the writer to describe to the reader exactly how Daredevil perceives a situation. So far, Mark Waid has made liberal use of internal monologue for this purpose and I think it helps us get into his head a little better.

Matt the lawyer

How was Waid going to focus on Matt’s career while changing things up by having him serve the law in a different capacity? I know we were all scratching our heads until it was revealed that Matt and Foggy were now in the business of helping people help themselves, that is coaching them to represent themselves in court.

The way this idea has played out has been great. It’s given us plenty of Matt and Foggy time around the office without subjecting anyone to long court room scenes while at the same time functioning as a plot device for introducing new cases for Matt to deal with in his Daredevil guise. Matt still gets to be in the lawyering business, and he’s even found a new potential love interest in assistant D.A. Kirsten McDuffie.

The no longer suicidal Man Without Fear

I can’t say how happy I am that this finally happened! What’s great about the new take on Matt though, is that it really isn’t about wiping away his years of heartache – first of all, it’s abundantly clear that he’s in some kind of denial – but that it gives the character back his full range of emotions. We’ve seen him during some darker moments (see below for what is clearly a crack in the surface), and he recently (see Daredevil #9) let his judgement give way to anger for the first time in a long time.

Matt sits in his office, in Daredevil #7, by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera

They key here is that Daredevil has not been transformed into a completely different character that’s all about fun and games. What we see is more a case of Matt being portrayed as a complete human being, and moving away from his portrayal as so down on his luck that he almost seemed like caricature from one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Matt at his worst was not a relatable character. I’ve said several times that Matt Murdock is like a great actor who’s unfortunately been type cast into playing only one type of role (the one that brought him the greatest commercial success). We finally get to see him oscillate between different moods in a way that seems more natural and is, quite frankly, a whole lot more engaging.

Well, this was my look back at the details and developments that appealed to me about the relaunch before we had even read the first issue. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to return to the expectations I had, and realize that this book has more than delivered in every respect. What were some of your hopes and what do you hope for down the line?

The sounds of Daredevil – A top 10 list

Daredevil versus the traffic, from Daredevil #3

Sound effects, word balloons and captions obviously have a very special (and often under-appreciated) place in comics. In a book like Daredevil, where sounds play such an important role in the unique world of the main character, sound effects have the potential to add even more to the overall reading experience than is the case for most other comic books on the stands. However, I have to be honest and say that I never paid much conscious attention to these things until the current run, which has really made me sit up and take notice.

The key to the successful use of sound in the current incarnation of Daredevil starts with having a writer like Mark Waid who seems to constantly be thinking about how to portray things from Matt Murdock’s perspective. Add to that the inspired visual storytelling of artists like Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martín, who have been equally committed to translating Daredevil’s senses into something that works in a visual medium. The final piece of the puzzle comes courtesy of skilled letterer Joe Caramagna who is able to add that final touch of perfection. All put together, Daredevil feels like a book that speaks to all of our senses.

Despite the 500+ post history of this site, this is the first time I’ve thought to give the spotlight to the sounds of the comic book page. With how well this particular dimension has been handled by all involved since last summer’s Daredevil #1, now seemed like the perfect time. So, I bring you, in chronological order, a list of ten favorite uses of sound from Daredevil, volume 3!

  1. The Spot breaks a mobster’s neck, from Daredevil #1

  2. The Spot snaps a man's neck in Daredevil #1, art by Paolo Rivera

    This panel has really been trimmed down to the bare essentials with the chilling “sight” of The Spot breaking a man’s neck accompanied by the inevitable sound of bones breaking. Paolo Rivera has talked about how Daredevil, in the panel leading up to this one, covers the eyes of the little girl about to be kidnapped, to shield her from the horror while wanting to underscore that Matt doesn’t have the option of looking away. As of omni-directional radar sense weren’t bad enough, the oversized “KRAK” makes sure that, even if he could, the details of the mobster’s demise would not be lost on him.

  3. Foggy has a loud snack habit, from Daredevil #1

    Matt hears the "kronch" of Foggy's snack habit, from Daredevil #1

    In the back-up story from Daredevil #1, it is Marcos Martíns who turns the sound of Foggy chewing on snacks into a character in its own right. Set against a dark elongated corridor, the sound completely takes over the scene, reminding us of how it dominates Matt’s own perceptions.

  4. Daredevil versus the Master of Sound, from Daredevil #3

    Daredevil vs Klaw, from Daredevil #3

    This scene was just one of many from an issue where sound in all its forms came into play in many different ways (see also #4 and 5 below). As one might imagine, it was not an entirely pleasant experience for our horned hero. What I like about the panel above is how the sound effect is made to match the background, giving the impression of the sound being inescapable and literally all around.

  5. The ill-defined honk, from Daredevil #3

    Daredevil versus the traffic, from Daredevil #3

    After the intense experience in Klaw’s secret basement, Daredevil has been subjected to enough noise to cause some real damage. I really like how this effect is illustrated in the above panel by having the noise from the traffic look at once loud and ill-defined, almost distorted. Nice!

  6. “I can’t hear you!”, from Daredevil #3

    Matt yells at people, from Daredevil #3

    Yeah, all that noise made some real damage, illustrated by having everything Matt says in a larger font. For those of you taking notes, the “post rock concert” phenomenon Matt is experiencing here is called a (temporary) threshold shift. How is that for a great conversation starter at loud parties? 😉

  7. Sound bullets, from Daredevil #5

    Matt and Austin Cao being shot at, from Daredevil #5

    As if going up against Klaw wasn’t bad enough, two issues later, Matt finds himself under attack again. This time he’s being shot at by a sniper while protecting his new client Austin Cao. Oh, and having the bullet trajectories also be a sound effect? Brilliant!

  8. “Fa-thoom,” from Daredevil #5

    Fa-thoom, from Daredevil #5

    Yeah, this one pretty much speaks for itself. Fa-thoom indeed!

  9. A broken knee is a bitch, from Daredevil #6

    A broken knee is a bitch, from Daredevil #6

    Next issue, Matt gets his revenge against new villain Bruiser. The sound in this panel, that of a knee shattering, is big enough to literally take over the whole panel. Very cool-looking!

  10. Matt’s noisy security, from Daredevil #8

    Matt and Felicia at his apartment, from Daredevil #8

    This panel it littered with sound effects, which is exactly the point. It’s also a good example of how sound effects can be used to let us guess what’s going on without seeing it directly. One has to wonder where exactly Matt would put his keys while in costume though. 😉

  11. Sploosh!, from Daredevil #9

    Sploosh, from Daredevil #9

    Last but not least is this splash of water from the most recent issue, Daredevil #9. I like how it’s made to look like the sound effect is made up drops of water that could rain down on Daredevil at any moment. Also, “sploosh”? Yeah, I kind of like the sound of that.

Do you guys have any favorite sound effect moments? From Daredevil or comics in general, of course. Personally, I’m also partial to the sound of Spider-Man’s web shooters. 😉

Entering Shadowland: A guide to Daredevil #111-#507

Panel from Daredevil #116

[toc]

Come July, we’ll officially be in Shadowland territory, and with the most recent arc Left Hand Path having come to a close, I thought this would be the perfect time to put together a little – or not so little – primer for new or forgetful Daredevil readers.

Since the current events in Daredevil go all the way back to Daredevil #111, with the introduction of Lady Bullseye, that seemed like the best place to start this issue by issue recap which takes us to the end of Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s run, with the anniversary issue Daredevil #500 (which followed Daredevil #119 and reverted to the original numbering), and into the first issues by the current creative team of Andy Diggle and Roberto de la Torre. The latter have recently been joined by Antony Johnston, co-writer of Daredevil #505-512, and Marco Checchetto who’s been the artist for Daredevil #505-507 (see the end of the post for full credits for the issues listed here).

With no further ado, let’s get to the longest post this blog has ever seen. On the other hand (no pun intended), this should serve both as a refresher to people who’ve been on board since the beginning as well as a complete introduction to anyone who feels like catching up. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Daredevil #111

Panel from Daredevil #111

In this issue, we meet Lady Bullseye for the first time and learn about her past as a freed sex slave who was inspired to take on her costumed identity when she watched the original Bullseye kill her captors many years ago. For much of the issue, we see her stalking Matt and his firm’s private investigator Dakota North from afar as the two of them seek out Danny “Iron Fist” Rand to have him tend to Dakota’s still healing gun-shot wound (which she sustained in the previous arc). While Matt and Dakota succumb to their mutual attraction for each other, Lady Bullseye goes on a killing spree. As we find out at the end of the issue, she is killing people to frame Matt for murder.

Lady Bullseye answers to a man named Hirochi, and the two of them have a list of targets which includes Danny Rand, Carlos LaMuerto (the Black Tarantula), Logan (Wolverine), and someone thus far referred to only as “the old man.” Lady Bullseye points out that Matt Murdock should be easy to get to, but is warned to stay away from him. Already at this point, there is a sneaking suspicion that Lady Bullseye has her own agenda.

Daredevil #112

Panel from Daredevil #112

Dakota wakes up in Matt’s bed to find the house deserted. Outside, Matt is being arrested by the police and with one glance at the newspaper, Dakota realizes what’s happened. The paper claims that Daredevil killed two thugs in Hell’s Kitchen the night before.

The story cuts to months earlier in Japan where the Avengers stand over the dead body of Elektra’s Skrull imposter, then leader of the Hand. Over the next few pages, we learn more about how this news is received within the Hand’s own ranks. Upon losing their leader, Lord Hirochi sends for “the girl,” who turns out to be none other than Lady Bullseye herself. She is given a mission which takes her to New York and the present day where we find her having breakfast, in civilian clothes, with a man named Hiro who is less than enthused by her putting Daredevil’s face on the first page of the newspapers. Before they have time to discuss the matter further, they realize it’s time to move in on their first subject. Lady Bullseye and Hiro watch from afar as the ninjas at their command attack Carlos LaMuerto in his apartment, and they engage in a sort of running commentary throughout, clearly doing an assessment of his skills. Later, a similar attack is staged against Danny Rand

Meanwhile, Matt is being released from police custody after Dakota tells them about their affair, thus providing Daredevil with an alibi for the night before. After spending the day together, they come home to Matt’s apartment to find Carlos LaMuerto tied up on the floor and an old Japanese man going through the fridge in search of beer. The man introduces himself as Master Izo and informs Matt that he will help him destroy the Hand.

Daredevil #113

Panel from Daredevil #113

Lady Bullseye is admonished by Hirochi for framing Matt for murder, something he suspects will draw Daredevil’s attention more than divert it. In Matt’s apartment, Matt and Dakota talk to the now untied Carlos and Master Izo who inform them that the Hand is back in town. Master Izo clearly knows a great deal about Matt and is surprised that Matt doesn’t know who he is. Danny Rand joins the party to inform them that he, too, was attacked by the Hand. The plot thickens when Dakota gets a call from her cop friend Detective Kurtz who informs her that the witness in the murder investigation against Daredevil has been killed.

This lures Matt out onto the streets and Daredevil and Lady Bullseye finally meet. She brings a whole pack of ninjas and makes some not so subtle threats against Matt’s loved ones. Master Izo shows up to save the day and tries unsuccessfully to talk Matt out of going to see his wife Milla, convinced that he is just following Lady Bullseye’s lead. Matt refuses to listen, and Dakota gets behind the wheel to drive him upstate to the facility where Milla is being cared for. He is shocked to learn that Milla was released into the custody of her parents the day before.

Meanwhile, Master Izo and Carlos follow a Hand ninja back to their hide-out where they find the set of photographs on the wall that Lady Bullseye and Hirochi were discussing two issues earlier. Among the faces is that of Angela Del Toro, the White Tiger. This brings us to a scene of Angela coming home to her apartment where she is met by Lady Bullseye who stabs her through the chest and kills her.

Daredevil #114

Panel from Daredevil #114

The issue opens to Matt throwing a temper tantrum in his office over his parents-in-law taking Milla. Foggy assures him that this doesn’t seem like a set-up by anyone and that the people who took Milla really were her parents. Shortly, the Donovans, Milla’s enraged parents, are on their way up with their lawyer – an Japanese woman by the name of Maki Matsumoto. Matt suspects that she might be Lady Bullseye, but also notes that she appears different to him. When Dakota enters the conference room to offer some coffe, the Donovans snap and the stack of photographs of Matt and Dakota’s illicit affair they’ve been sitting on is thrown on the table.

Worried about Angela’s safety, Carlos, as the Black Tarantula rushes to find her while Master Izo and Danny wait in a nearby bar. He soon finds the White Tiger fighting ninjas on a roof top and rushes to her aid. Of course, the whole thing is a trick, Angela has been resurrected and turned by the Hand, and the fight is a trap set to do the same thing to Carlos.

Later, we see Maki Matsumoto coming home to her apartment and her identity as Lade Bullseye is confirmed for the reader when her associate Hiro steps out from the shadows to attack her. Hiro accuses Lady Bullseye of deceiving their effort, but she turns out to be the one with the better skills and kills him with his own sword. Matt is greeted by a surprise of his own when he comes home to a sonic device meant to disorient him. When he finally shuts it off, he is greeted by Lady Bullseye, her ninjas, and his two friends White Tiger and Black Tarantula.

Daredevil #115

Panel from Daredevil #115

Toward the end of the last issue, Danny and Master Izo grew concerned about the success of Black Tarantula’s rescue operation when they left the bar to find the five Hand ninja that had been watching them suddenly gone. This issue opens to a scene of them rushing over the roof tops toward Matt’s home. They arrive just in time to find Matt engaged in full-blown battle. While the fight goes on, Matt notes that even though he’s got his hands full, neither of his attackers have attempted to inflict the kind of wound that would kill him, leading him to suspect that they want him alive. Just as Lady Bullseye nearly knocks Matt unconscious, Master Izo bursts onto the scene and creates a distraction before going off to look for Hirochi. Matt get’s just enough time to get his head together and he and Lady Bullseye takes the fight outside. She sends White Tiger and Black Tarantula on Master Izo’s tail, and stays to deal with Daredevil herself.

From this point, the issue switches back and forth between Daredevil’s fight with Lady Bullseye and Master Izo’s meeting with Hirochi. Izo kills Hirochi’s security detail and goes on to mock Hirochi for his inability to control his mission. Hirochi accuses Izo of being a traitor, and it’s clear to the reader that Izo is privy to the Hand’s plans for Matt in a way that may not have been suspected up until now.

After a prolonged fight, Lady Bullseye reveals that what she has been doing to Matt has nothing to do with destroying his life, and everything to do with clearing away the obstacles in his life so that he will be willing to accept the gift she has to offer: leadership of the Hand. Baffled, Daredevil launches at her again, and Lady Bullseye knocks him unconscious. When he comes to, Master Izo is at his side. Izo guesses correctly that Matt turned down Lady Bullseye’s offer, and Matt is suprised to learn that Izo knew about this all along. The issue ends with Matt to continuing to fight for his wife while Lady Bullseye, Hirochi and the rest of their group board an airplane to Spain to launch their plan B.

Daredevil #116

Panel from Daredevil #116

This unusual issue takes us far from New York to get reacquainted with Wilson Fisk who left the U.S. one year earlier to go to Spain. He has settled in the Costa da Morte, his late wife Vanessa’s favorite place. The former Kingpin is trying to lead a different kind of life to honor Vanessa and finds a new surprising love with a local woman named Marta. After months of bliss with Marta and her two children he comes home one day to find all of them slaughtered by Lady Bullseye and her ninjas. When he asks why they would do such a thing, Lady Bullseye tells him to “ask Daredevil.”

Daredevil #117

Panel from Daredevil #117

The Kingpin returns to New York and gets reacquainted with everyone from Turk to the regulars at Josie’s bar (which has now literally moved underground). Matt, as Daredevil, goes after the P.I. who took the pictures of him and Dakota, rattles him pretty badly and sends him to apologize to Dakota and part with his memory card.

Daredevil then goes to meet up with Izo who just chopped the head off the ninja that was stalking him. Izo tells a noticeably irritated Daredevil that the Hand is back in town, just as he said they would be. The next day, Matt has another meeting with Milla’s parents who are understandably livid that he would threaten their private investigator. Neither party is about to yield and they accuse each other of blackmail.

Matt ends up having more people upset with him when Dakota marches in in the middle of his workout. She’s angry about Matt threatening the P.I. and we’re treated to a scene of a bandaged and visibly shell-shocked man seek out Dakota in a coffee shop to hand over the memory card. Dakota insists that she can fight her own battles and that Matt is going too far. In the middle of their argument, Matt gets a call from his informants Chico and Merv who tell him that the Kingpin is back in town. After hanging up, Matt follows Dakota outside where she tells him that she’s quitting her job at the law firm.

With Matt barefoot out on the street in the middle of winter (ninja feet…), Turk shows up to let him know that the Kingpin wants to see him. The two meet in a cemetery where the Kingpin tells Daredevil about his ordeal in Spain and announces that he wants to make a deal with him to go after the Hand.

Daredevil #118

Panel from Daredevil #118

The issue opens with a scene of Leland Owlsley, The Owl, being taken from the courthouse to a prison transport that will take him to Ryker’s. Before the van has a chance to leave the parking garage, a group of armed men show up and take out the security guards. They toss The Owl into the backseat of a car where he comes face to face with the Kingpin, who announces that he’s got a job for him.

Across town, Izo expresses his disappointment with Matt’s decision to partner with the Kingpin, stressing that nothing good can come of it. Matt doesn’t care, saying that he can deal with the Kingpin later, and that he’s more interested in going after the people who are ruining his life. However, Matt doesn’t seem to care much about the people who are still in his life, because he soon has Foggy angry at him for skipping the settlement meeting with Milla’s parents. Matt hasn’t been at the office in a week and Foggy goes to his house to wait for him. On his way home, Matt stops outside Dakota’s apartment, regretting everything that happened as well as the fact that it could never work out between them.

When Matt comes home, Foggy is waiting for him. On Matt’s answering machine is a message from the Kingpin, and the realization that Matt has made some kind of deal with the Kingpin drives Foggy into a rage which is fueled even more by Matt seemingly failing to appreciate what he’s putting Foggy through. Finally, Foggy leaves and slams the door shut, but not before firing his law partner.

On Matt’s answering machine, the Kingpin mentioned bringing another player into the game, and on the final pages, we see the Owl seek out Lady Bullseye, looking to hire the Hand. He has a long list of people he needs to have killed.

Daredevil #119

Panel from Daredevil #119

Detective Kurtz contacts Daredevil to see if he knows anything about what’s happening in town. Mobsters on all levels are being killed across town in a fashion that clearly suggests the work of ninjas. When Kurtz questions whether the Owl being sprung from jail has anything to do with this it is the first time Daredevil hears about it. He immediately starts suspecting that this may be the new player that the Kingpin mentioned. While searching for Master Izo, Matt has more time to think about what Owlsley’s involvement might mean. Is the Kingpin only using the Owl to lure the Hand out of hiding or does he intend to use the Hand to take out all his competition in town?

Next, we cut to Wilson Fisk having a conversation with his dead wife, but Turk catches his boss talking to himself when he comes into his office to announce that the Owl is there to see him. This has Turk questioning whether Fisk is going insane. The Owl, meanwhile, gets a new target to pass on to Lady Bullseye, and this time it’s none other than Foggy Nelson. At this point, Lady Bullseye, who has likely seen what the Owl and the Kingpin have been up to all along, decides to call their bluff and demands to be taken to see the Kingpin himself, but not before sending Black Tarantula and White Tiger to kill Foggy.

When the Kingpin and Lady Bullseye finally meet, they are not alone. Dakota has been following Turk since he went out for donuts earlier in the day, and this leads her to the meeting site. It doesn’t take long for Lady Bullseye to detect her presence however, and after taking two chopsticks to the arm (we finally learn what those are for), Dakota easily falls prey to the Owl who has been standing by waiting for a chance to get a piece of the action and knocks her unconscious.

Daredevil #500

Panel from Daredevil #500

Daredevil #500, the anniversary issue, starts with a scene set hundreds of years ago in Japan. We see Izo, who has just blinded himself in an attempt to gain greater clarity, have a dispute with a fellow follower of the Hand. Izo says that there is no honor left in the Hand, and takes off.

In the present, Izo has taken Matt to see his wife. Matt now realizes what he has to do, and after saying a final and heartfelt good-bye to Milla, he calls Foggy to instruct him to give Milla’s parents what they want. Foggy barely has the chance to hang up the phone before Black Tarantula and the White Tiger enter his office with a group of ninjas.

We are briefly transported back to the past again, though the more recent past of “fifty-five years ago” where Izo is having a conversation with Matt’s old sensei Stick. The two are in disagreement over what the Chaste should be and Izo tells Stick that their group is turning into a bunch of prudes, trying too hard to simply be the Hand’s polar opposite.

Daredevil finds Turk waiting in a car outside his home and by now the realization that the Kingpin is trying to manipulate him sends him into a rage. He smashes the windshield and reaches in to grab Turk when he smells Dakota’s purse in the backseat. Naturally, this has Daredevil even more wound up, but things are not as they seem. Fearing that his boss has mentally gone off the deep end, Turk has decided to defy the Kingpin’s instructions to keep Daredevil occupied, and instead tells him where he can find Dakota.

After checking in with both Dakota, who is being held by the Owl, and Foggy, who is dangling from a roof top at the mercy of Black Tarantula and White Tiger, we get another flashback to “eighteen years ago” where Matt, newly blinded, is sitting in a hospital bed. His father is talking to the doctor in the hallway outside, and Matt gets a visitor in the form of the now familiar Master Izo. Satisfied that Matt can sense his presence, he leaves the boy’s room and places a phone call to a pool hall in search of a man named Stick. This scene creates an additional link between Matt and Izo. The latter didn’t just train Stick, he discovered Matt’s potential as well.

Back in the present, Daredevil and Master Izo attack the Owl’s hideout to free Dakota. Matt doesn’t hold back during what turns out to be a brutal fight and knowingly paralyzes the Owl so the he can’t hurt anyone again. Dakota has been told by her captors that the Hand has gone after Foggy, and as soon as she is able, she relays the news to Matt. Izo reassures them that he has someone on the inside and that they shouldn’t worry. The man on the inside turns out to be Black Tarantula who, thanks to his healing ability has managed to cleanse the Hand’s evil from his body, just as Master Izo knew he would when he hired him for the job months earlier. Now Carlos pulls Foggy back from the edge and throws him across the roof to relative safety while he critically injures White Tiger and kills the ninjas at their command. When the dust settles, he uses his ability to bring White Tiger back and she, too, is no longer under the Hand’s control.

The Kingpin, meanwhile, is in the Hand’s inner sanctum, ready to assume leadership of the Hand. Too early for his taste, Daredevil and Master Izo show up to crash the party, but not before Fisk has the chance to kill Hirochi, the man who gave the order to kill Marta and her children in Spain. Izo and Daredevil fight Lady Bullseye and the Kingpin, and Daredevil asks the Hand leaders whether the offer still stands. Realizing that he can’t let someone like Wilson Fisk get control over an organization as dangerous as the Hand, Matt has made the previously unthinkable decision of accepting their offer.

At the end of the issue, we see Matt head off to the trials that await him while Foggy and Dakota go to Matt’s home to find it abandoned and empty. A note from Matt instructs Foggy to put his things in storage and everything points to Matt going away for a long time. We also learn that Lady Bullseye was trained by Master Izo and that he was the one who sent her after Matt. In return she was promised leadership of the Hand. This adds to making Izo an even more enigmatic figure whose goals may be admirable, but whose methods are not.

Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil

Panel from Dark Reign - The List: Daredevil

Part of the Dark Reign – The List series of titles, this issue marks Andy Diggle’s first and fits between Daredevil #500 and #501 in terms of continuity. The opening scene shows Matt being introduced to the business side of the Hand where he is briefed on the size of their enterprise. Before he is ready to take charge, however, there is a series of tests he must go through. Warned that the trials have already begun, the story moves to another part of town where Detective Kurtz is cornered by two dirty cops accused of excessive force who have recently been reinstated by Norman Osborn. With them is the equally corrupt Judge Walden. Before things get the chance to heat up, everyone but Kurtz is killed by an unseen attacker, revealed to the readers as a ninja.

This is enough to put Daredevil on Norman Osborn’s radar. Norman knows that Daredevil is now leading the Hand and that this was a murder with ninja written all over it. He gives the task of killing Daredevil to the latter’s longtime enemy Bullseye, now an Avenger. Bullseye is not convinced that Daredevil is really behind these murders, but is happy to get the chance to go after him.

While Daredevil is undergoing his initiation rites, consisting of torture as well as a fight to the death, Bullseye and HAMMER barge in and start by taking Daredevil’s opponent out of his misery. Daredevil is lured outside by Bullseye, and because of his pride, he decides to chase after him alone. With both Bullseye and Daredevil hanging on to a rope trailing a HAMMER helicopter, Bullseye lets his enemy fall on top of a building full of civilians staging a protest against Oscorp’s plans to demolish their homes. When the building is blown to pieces, it takes one hundred and seven people with it, though Daredevil is not one of them.

Lady Bullseye, the true assassin responsible for the deaths of the two cops and the judge saw the building explode and reports back to her new boss, the Kingpin. Wilson Fisk knows better, however, than to presume Murdock dead.

Daredevil #501

Panel from Daredevil #501

Wallowing in guilt over the pride and arrogance which he feels caused the deaths of more than one hundred innocent people, Daredevil sits perched on a rooftop, listening to the sermon in honor of the dead. He is joined by Master Izo who tries to talk some sense into him, but something in Matt has changed and he cannot be reasoned with. He declares that he will use the Hand as a weapon for good, but that the Hand demands the sacrifice of an innocent. Before Izo has time to react, a swarm of ninjas dressed to match the look of their new leader descend on their location and captures Izo.

In another part of town, Dakota visits Foggy and Becky Blake at the office and the three of them discuss whether Matt could really be behind the death of Judge Walden. They know, presumably from speaking with Danny Rand, that Matt has taken over the Hand and it is also clear that the judge was killed by a ninja. To add insult to injury, the judge was hearing Foggy’s current case which is tied directly to the dead protestors.

Elsewhere, in a more dimly lit office, Turk has been called to the Kingpin and is informed that his services are no longer needed. Lady Bullseye puts her sword to Turk’s throat and the Kingpin confronts him with his previous betrayal. In a surprising twist, the Kingpin lets him go, later telling Lady Bullseye that he doesn’t mind tricking his opponents into thinking him “a spent force.”

Things don’t look quite as hopeful for Master Izo who is strung up in the Hand’s lair somewhere under the city, listening to Daredevil make a borderline deranged speech about his plans for the Hand and the sacrifices that need to be made. He finally puts his fists where his mouth is and punches Izo hard enough for him to slam into the wall. He is declared dead and Daredevil’s loyal subjects kneel before him.

Daredevil #502

Panel from Daredevil #502

We see the Owl again for the first time since Daredevil #500 when his lieutenants pay him a visit in Doctor Parker’s makeshift hospital. With their former boss unable to move (though still in possession of his appetite for live rodents), his closest men tell him that they’re taking over his business. Later in the issue, we find out that the Owl’s lieutenants now answer to the Kingpin though one of them has to part with his head after getting a little too cocky around the new boss.

Below the streets, Matt has a strange dream. While his inner monologue informs the reader that he sometimes sees in his dreams, this particular dream has an unusual clarity to it. It starts off as a good dream, but turns bitter when he meets Dakota, Milla and Elektra, all of them telling him about something “inside him.” When the dream turns into a nightmare, elegantly portrayed on page by having real horns grow from Matt’s forehead, he wakes up, surrounded by his followers. Black Tarantula and White Tiger demand to speak with him alone. White Tiger is visibly upset that Daredevil went through with the killing of Master Izo, and Daredevil then shows her to the room where Izo is being kept. He tells her about his and Izo’s deception – the latter can slow down his heartbeat at will – while Black Tarantula bring him back from his deep coma.

Foggy Nelson runs into his own set of problems when the corrupt judge presiding over the police brutality case he is arguing overrules the jury’s not guilty verdict. This understandably has Foggy up in arms and he is dragged away and locked up for being in contempt of court.

Since taking on his new role as leader of the Hand, Matt has been out of step with many of the things happening in the streets, but the White Tiger and Black Tarantula fill him in on all the things going on with Norman Osborn in charge. When Daredevil asks them to show him, his two confidants take him to the site of a drug bust involving a group of dirty cops looking to get their hands on the loot. Daredevil responds by having his entire group move in.

Daredevil #503

Panel from Daredevil #503

The scene from last issue continues here and we see the Hand successfully subdue police and drug dealers alike. Daredevil instructs White Tiger to dump the drugs in the river, but finds the question of what to do next a difficult one to answer. The reader is still not privy to what actually happens next, and all we learn this issue is that White Tiger is upset by Matt’s level of brutality, though it’s clear by the end of the issue that the men they attacked have not been killed when Daredevil takes a stand against something as comparatively “innocent” as cutting a man’s hand off. It is clear that Matt might have bitten off more than he can chew, however, when the ninja responsible commits ritual suicide right in front of him.

Becky Blake finds herself carrying a triple work load this issue with partner number one off to lead the Hand and partner number two having been disbarred. Their problems don’t end there, however, as Dakota finds that her private investigator’s license has been revoked.

The Kingpin steps up his game and sends some men to secure an early release of sorts for a group of prisoners being transported across town. The price for their freedom is simple: They may do whatever they like, but half of their earnings will go to their new boss, The Hood. Back in the Kingpin’s office, just as he is finishing off the Owl’s lieutenants, the men responsible for the raid against the prison transport ask the Kingpin why he is having half his new people thinking that they are working for the Owl while the other half believes they are working for the Hood.

Daredevil #504

Panel from Daredevil #504

This issue brings the first mention of Shadowland when Daredevil is being shown blueprints of this new enigmatic structure to be built on the site of the demolished building, now too tainted to be used for the purpose originally intended. Next, Black Tarantula approaches to tell Matt about the news of what happened to Foggy and Dakota. This pushes another set of buttons for our title character who feels the frustration of not being able to keep his friends safe despite all of the sacrifices he’s had to make.

Down at the police station, Kurtz has his hands full with the case of the missing SWAT team after their encounter with the Hand last issue. His conversation with a colleague is interrupted when a ninja appears at the window to declare that Hell’s Kitchen is now Hand territory. In another part of town, the Kingpin is looking to take advantage of the situation by sending Lady Bullseye in to cause as much damage as possible to the operation Daredevil has planned.

At this point, Osborn has caught wind of the Hand’s most recent activity in the Kitchen and sends in H.A.M.M.E.R. troops to deal with the ninja problem. This leads to a full-scale standoff between the Hand and H.A.M.M.E.R. that, once again, results in people going missing. Foggy and Dakota arrive at the scene after having paid a visit to the corrupt judge that had Foggy disbarred (and learning that he was taking orders from the Kingpin rather than Norman Osborn). They fear for their friends sanity when they hear about how people were dragged screaming underground. In the final scene, we finally learn where these people end up; locked up in the sewers while waiting for the construction of a much larger prison…

Daredevil #505

Panel from Daredevil #505

This and the following two issues take Matt away from New York, where he has left Carlos to oversee the construction of Shadowland, while he and Angela fly to Japan. Matt realizes that in order to be able to accomplish his goals, he needs to unify the Hand. Currently, that elusive unity is threatened by one of the five daimyo (regional warlords). Bakuto, head of the South American branch is suspected of having a killed his former leader – which is later revealed as fact to the reader – and he is now openly defying Matt’s leadership.

Matt and Angela arrive in a wintry Japan and we are all acquainted with the other three daimyo (Angela, the White Tiger, is head of the North American branch). Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka also get a taste of Bakuto’s insubordination and it is clear they consider him a problem to be handled. Matt does his best to establish control of the group, and ask all parties to save their grievances for the summit. After a secret meeting, Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka launch their plan to get to Bakuto.

During their meeting, Matt lays out his plans for the Hand, and he clearly still sees the organization as an instrument to be used for justice and affecting change in the world. Bakuto openly mocks this suggestion and accuses Matt of betraying their ideals. Later that evening, during a lavish banquet, Bakuto starts to experience vivid hallucinations and Matt, clearly puzzled but what has happened, sends Bakuto to his room. Later, as Daredevil, he goes to try to win Bakuto’s trust, but the latter is still affected by the same hallucinations as earlier. Before long, both are surrounded by ninjas.

Daredevil #506

Panel from Daredevil #506

The issue opens with a peek into Bakuto’s world. Affected by some kind of magic, he is unable to see things as they really are and is convinced that everyone around him, including Daredevil is some kind of demon. Matt tries to reason with him while fighting off their attackers. The ninjas flee after setting off a flash bomb, and while Matt runs after one of them, Bakuto finds himself trapped by another. Matt’s attempt to get any information out of the people who attacked them prove virtually futile and he returns to help Bakuto. This turns out to be a thankless job as Bakuto is more convinced than ever that Matt staged the whole thing.

Matt discusses the matter with White Tiger and voices his suspicions that the attempt on Bakuto’s life was an inside job. He fails to persuade the guilty to step forward during dinner, however, and can sense no nervousness or erratic heartbeats. After dinner, he falls asleep, and we get a follow-up to the dream sequence from Daredevil #502. This time, Elektra shows up once again and repeats her statement that “it’s inside of you,” cutting him open with her sai. Matt wakes up to realize it was all a dream, but still finds blood from a cut on his stomach.

Elsewhere, Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka get a secret visitor who assures them that Murdock suspects nothing. In a shocking twist, the obvious traitor is none other than White Tiger

Daredevil #507

Panel from Daredevil #507

The closing issue of the arc is told almost entirely from the point of view of Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka. The opening sequence sees them narrating an event happening elsewhere, an attack on Daredevil staged by Bakuto’s men which takes them outside into the snow. The daimyo decide that now is the time to take out Bakuto and White Tiger is sent to deal with it. We also learn that the reason she has fallen back under their spell is that she needs Black Tarantula’s healing factor to resist her original conditioning.

White Tiger swiftly kills Bakuto’s men and the two of them go head to head. Using a concealed sword, White Tiger stabs Bakuto in the stomach, making it look like seppuku, ritual suicide. Matt returns after his futile attempt to find out who was behind the attack on him, and White Tiger, still playing he part, leads him to Bakuto’s dead body. The other daimyo show up, and the story they tell to explain Bakuto’s death is a convincing one. Still, we see the old Matt Murdock shine through, the one who is reluctant to take anything at face value and judge a man without trial. He can’t be sure that this isn’t, in fact, a crime scene. White Tiger reminds him that he finally accomplished the unity he came for and that asking too many questions will make the whole thing fall apart. Matt accepts her argument and decides that it’s time for the two of them to go back to New York.

The final scene shows the three daimyo conclude that all is going as planned and that Matt has “stepped over the threshold into shadow.” We learn here that Shadowland is not an idea that started with Murdock, but that it is, in fact, a necessary step for the Snakeroot’s (the mystical inner circle of the Hand) plans of world domination.

Phew! This was a long post, but there was also a lot of ground that needed to be covered. As promised, the full credits for these issues (not counting extra material not covered here) are:

Credits

  • Writers:

    Ed Brubaker (Daredevil #111-119, #500), Andy Diggle (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil, Daredevil #501-507), Antony Johnston (Daredevil #505-507).

  • Pencillers:

    Clay Mann (Daredevil #111), Michael Lark (Daredevil #112-115, #117-119, #500), David Aja (Daredevil #116), Billy Tan (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil), Roberto de la Torre (Daredevil #501-504, including inks), Marco Checchetto (Daredevil #503, #505-507, including inks).

  • Inkers:

    Stefano Gaudiano (Daredevil #111-119, #500), Matt Banning (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil)

  • Colorists:

    José Villarrubia (Daredevil #116), Justin Ponsor (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil), Matt Hollingsworth (virtually everything else since the dawn of time)

  • Additional artists:

    Tonci Zonjic (Daredevil #115), John Lucas (inker, Daredevil #118), Klaus Janson, Chris Samnee, Paul Azaceta (Daredevil #500)

Daredevil collected

How do you like your Daredevil? Served in a beautiful hardcover, in the form of a convenient take-it-on-the-train trade paperback or as single issues to be treated carefully and then put away for posterity? For many older issues, there isn’t much of a choice, but a great many of Daredevil’s adventures have been collected. This includes all of volume two, which, for the most part, is available in more than one format. The sole exception is the Playing to the Camera arc, written by Bob Gale, which was released as Daredevil #20-25. The question of whether it ever will be collected resurfaces from time to time, but there is currently no indication of any such plans.

About a year ago, I wrote a post called Daredevil Volume 2 for Dummies, which contains a comprehensive list of all volume two collections. It was recently updated too, and provides a good guide to the last ten years of Daredevil publication. Collected editions from volume one don’t cover every writer and era, but there’s still quite a bit of material out there. With this post, I’m going to attempt to list all volume one collections. I can’t promise perfection, but I’ll do my very best. Let me know if there’s something missing from this list and I’ll add it.

Silver Age : Marvel Masterworks Daredevil

The Marvel Masterworks hardcovers collect the early stories of some of Marvel’s most popular characters in full color. So far, there are five volumes, each collecting around ten issues. These volumes collect the entire Stan Lee run on Daredevil since Daredevil #53 was his final issue as writer. Click the images below for more details about each volume at www.marvelmasterworks.com

Collects Daredevil #1-11 Collects Daredevil #12-21 Collects Daredevil #22-32Collects Daredevil #33-41 Collects Daredevil #42-53

Silver (and Bronze) Age : Essential Daredevil

The Essential series features more issues per volume and are much more affordable. However, the art is in black and white. Volume five of this series comes out next year. Volume 1 collects Daredevil #1-25, volume 2 collects Daredevil #26-48, volume 3 collects Daredevil #49-74, and volume 4 collects Daredevil #75-101. Volume 5 will be collecting Daredevil #102-125. Each book also contains stray issues from other titles in which Daredevil appeared. For a full description, click any of the links above to go to the product description page on Amazon.

Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

The Frank Miller run has been collected several times in various formats. Here, I’ll cover most of them, beginning with:

  • Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller

    This series contains three volumes, available in both paperback and hardcover, collecting Daredevil #158-167 (though not #162), Daredevil #168-182, and Daredevil #183-191, What If? #28 & 35, and Bizarre Adventures #28Most of the issues of the first volume were written by Roger McKenzie and penciled by Miller, who took up the writing duties with #168.

    Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller volume 1Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller volume 2Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller volume 3

  • Daredevil, by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

    This is mostly the same material mentioned above, just packaged a little differently and with a few extras. Volume 1 collects Daredevil #158-172 (minus Daredevil #162) as well as Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #27-28 (written by Bill Mantlo). Volume 2 collects issues #173-184. Volume 3 collects issues #185-191, #219; Daredevil: Love & War and What If? #28. The Love and War mini has art by Bill Sienkiewicz, and the What If? story was co-written by Mike Barr. The covers are a nice classic black and red, as in this example (volume 1):

    Daredevil by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
    Daredevil by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
  • Omnibuses (“Omnibi”?)

    If you just want one (well, two) gigantic volumes and have a lot of cash, the Omnibus and the Omnibus Companion are just what you’re looking for. The Omnibus is hard to come by and starts at roughly 150 dollars, but if you’re still interested, have a look at the Omnibus at Amazon.com. Here is the Omnibus Companion.

  • Everything else Miller

    Both Miller’s Born Again arc (Daredevil #227-233) and the mini-series Man Without Fear are included in the Omnibus Companion. They also seem to be seeing new printings quite often, and are available in too many shapes and forms for me to keep track of. Just know that you can get those stories separately. Having said that, I’m not going to look them up. 😉

O’Neill, Nocenti and Chichester

Aside from the Silver Age issues and Frank Miller’s run, there are also other select story arcs available. The TPB Daredevil: Love’s Labor Lost collects some of the stories which followed directly after the first Miller run. It’s a good volume and can be found at reasonable prices. It also features some really nice art by David Mazzucchelli. Ann Nocenti fans are getting a new collection next year. In the meantime, there’s Daredevil Legends Vol. 4: Typhoid Mary, with art by John Romita Jr. Two story arcs from D.G. Chichester run have been collected as well, in Daredevil: The Fall of the Kingpin (collecting the story arc known originally as Last Rites), and Fall From Grace.

Daredevil: Love's Labor LostTyphoid Mary, by Ann NocentiThe Fall of the Kingpin, by D.G. ChichesterDaredevil: Fall From Grace, by D.G. Chichester and Scott McDaniel

Well, guys, I hope this was enlightening, especially if you’re new to Daredevil and don’t know where to begin. And, have a Happy Halloween!

Matt’s women, a Valentine’s Day special

Elektra shows up again in Daredevil #506, by Diggle, Johnston and Checchetto

Well, I already covered the women in Matt’s life in a previous post, but I thought that maybe we should take a closer look at the women Matt has been in a commited relationship with, this being Valentine’s Day and everything. I’ll also label this as “Daredevil for beginners” so new fans can get a quick tour through the love life of the Man Without Fear. So, here they are, in order of when they appeared in Matt’s life, not when they first debuted in the comic:

  1. Elektra Natchios

    First appearance: Daredevil #168

    Creator: Frank Miller

    Elektra shows up again in Daredevil #506, by Diggle, Johnston and Checchetto

    Relationship bio: Matt met Elektra as a freshman in college. She was the daughter of a Greek diplomat and it was love at first sniff for Matt, though Elektra rejected his advances at first. It wasn’t until he opened up to her about his abilities that she fell for him (a little close-minded on her part, but oh well). They dated for a year, during which they were blissfully happy.

    What went wrong: Elektra’s father was held hostage, and Matt made an unsuccessful attempt to save him. After his death, Elektra left Columbia University a changed woman. Matt didn’t see her again for many years until she returned as a cold-blooded assassin. Fatally wounded by Bullseye, she died in Matt’s arms and was ultimately resurrected in great comic book fashion. Elektra is currently a semi-prominent character in the Marvel Universe. Most recently, she was the leader of the Hand, and replaced by an alien Skrull before returning to Earth in the aftermath of Secret Invasion.

  2. Karen Page

    First appearance: Daredevil #1

    Creator: Stan Lee and Bill Everett

    Matt and Karen together at the end of Born Again, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli

    Relationship bio: In another instance of love at first sniff, Matt met Karen when Foggy hired her to be Nelson & Murdock’s first secretary. For many issues, the three were locked in a soap opera style love triangle. Things got even more complicated when Matt pretended to be his own fictional twin brother Mike, and Karen fell for him too. Finally, the two became a pair and Matt revealed to her his secret life. This caused a lot of strain in their relationship, and Karen left to go to Los Angeles where she became an actress. She briefly returned to New York before going on to make pornos. Somewhere along the line, she also became a heroin addict. Years later, she sold Matt’s secret to the Kingpin who went on to destroy Matt’s life. He forgave her and they moved in together in Hell’s Kitchen. Karen left after she discovered that Matt had had an affair with Typhoid Mary, but the two reconciled eventually.

    What went wrong: Well, the last time things went wrong, Karen returned after one final separation and told Matt she had AIDS. This turned out to be an illusion, but no one got to rejoice for very long. Karen dies at the hands of Bullseye (or Kevin Smith…), impaled by Daredevil’s own billy club.

  3. Natasha (Natalia) Romanova aka the Black Widow

    First appearance: Daredevil #80 (in Daredevil; the character first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 in 1964)

    Creator: Stan Lee, Don Rico and Don Heck

    Relationship bio: The Black Widow saved Daredevil’s life in Daredevil #80 and the two eventually entered into both a private and professional partnership. They moved to San Francisco where they shared a house that was also home to Natasha’s driver Ivan (that Matt and Natasha were co-habiting while not being married was quite striking at the time). After their break-up, Matt and Natasha remained close and she continues to make regular appearances in the book. In her most recent appearance during Bendis’s run, she nearly managed to seduce Matt who was separated from his wife Milla at the time.

    What went wrong: Matt and Natasha seemed to have a big “division of labor” problem in their superhero careers. Natasha constantly complained that she didn’t receive the respect she felt she deserved and Matt was indeed being very macho (hey, this was a few decades ago). They finally parted ways as lovers and partners but have remained friends.

  4. Heather Glenn

    First appearance: Daredevil #126

    Creator: Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown

    Relationship bio: Heather Glenn was the daughter of industrialist Maxwell Glenn. She met Matt when she just happened to show up in his apartment. A somewhat goofy, fun-loving girl, she managed to intially both annoy and charm Matt who gradually became more and more attached to her. They dated for quite a while and if nothing else, Heather did manage to get Matt to loosen up and she inspired him to set up a legal clinic.

    What went wrong: Heather’s father committed suicide because of the charges against him for crimes committed while he was under the influence of the Purple Man. Heather blamed Matt and also found out that he was Daredevil. While they managed to reconcile to some degree, Heather was not well equipped to handle the knowledge of Matt’s other life and even let the secret slip after an evening of drinking. Foggy and Natasha also meddled in Matt and Heather’s affairs and managed to break up the couple’s engagement. Some time later, Heather committed suicide.

  5. Glorianna O’Breen

    First appearance: Daredevil #205

    Creator: Denny O’Neill and William Johnson

    Relationship bio: Glorianna was the niece of Foggy’s then-wife Debbie Harris and was born and raised in Ireland. She had ties to the IRA. She and Matt gradually became close. She broke up with him via audio tape in a scene reminiscent of the one in which “Heather” (voiced by Colin Farrell’s sister apparently) breaks up with Matt in the Daredevil movie. This took place during the first issue of Born Again. Glorianna went on to date Foggy and disappeared from the comic entirely in the beginning of Nocenti’s run. Glorianna is the only one of Matt’s steady girlfriends to date who never learned that Matt is really Daredevil.

    What went wrong: Glorianna broke up with Matt for being distant and generally troubled. She met her final demise in issue #340 when “Alan Smithee” (D.G. Chichester) decided to kill her off for no apparent reason.

  6. Milla Donovan

    First appearance: Daredevil #41 (vol 2)

    Creator: Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

    Relationship bio: Daredevil saved Milla from being hit by a bus, landing both of them on top of each other in a clothing store. Like Matt, Milla Donovan is blind. She is also unique in that she knew that Matt was Daredevil when they started dating. While Matt initially tries to deny this, Milla soon catches him in a lie. The two married during the famous “lost year” in volume 2. Their relationship has hit a lot of rough spots. When Milla suspected that Matt married her while not in his right mind and still getting over the death of Karen Page, she sought to have their marriage annulled. Matt refused to sign the papers and the two eventually reconciled. They enjoyed a brief period of happiness after Matt’s return from Europe during the Brubaker run.

    What went wrong: Milla was poisoned by Mr Fear (Larry Cranston) and gradually driven insane. She is confined to a mental hospital as of Daredevil #105 (vol 2). Her current status and future is uncertain.

Conflicting continuities – A look at Daredevil canon

Daredevil continuity is relatively uncluttered by paradoxical events and conflicting timelines, but it is not entirely straightforward. The first major complicating factor came in the form of Frank Miller’s mini-series Man Without Fear in the early 90’s. Then there’s the movie to consider. No, movie events rarely enter into canon, but they can make the new fan feel a little confused about the conflicting accounts of a character’s history. So, I’ll slap this post with the Daredevil for beginners label for the benefit of the canonically confused and hope to be able to shed som light on the situation.

Most of the events where the timeline seems to be in question pertain to Matt’s early life. How old was Matt at the time of his accident? How old was he when his father died and just where did he go to college and law school? What about mini-series like Battlin’ Jack Murdock and Daredevil: Father? Are they canon, and who decides? Let’s look at this one event at a time.

  1. How old was Matt when he had his life-altering accident?

    Long answer:

    The unequivocal answer would be that he was in his mid-teens. If you want to be really specific about it, Daredevil #3 (vol 1) explicitly states his age as fifteen, and in Frank Miller’s Man Without Fear he is supposedly sixteen. However, this is never mentioned in the actual mini-series but in the original draft of the script from 1988 that was printed in the Frank Miller Omnibus Companion. John Romita Jr’s art, on the other hand, makes him look quite young. I suspect that Matt looking as young as he does has added to the overall confusion on this point. There is also a puzzling “young Matt” panel from volume 2 that I will return to further down.

    In the Daredevil movie, Matt’s age isn’t given but Scott Terra (who plays young Matt) turned fifteen while the movie was in production. At this point, you’re supposed to marvel at the amount of research I do for these posts. 😉

    Short answer:

    Fifteen, give or take a year.

  2. When did Jack Murdock die?

    Long answer:

    According to original canon, Matt loses his father shortly before graduation from college or law school. Since Stan Lee seemed oblivious to the fact that you need three years of law school to become a lawyer, it seems like he only graduates once so you can choose to interpret this anyway you like. However, in Daredevil #1, a relatively short amount of time passes between Jack’s death, Matt and Foggy going into practice and Matt becoming Daredevil. This makes sense since Matt’s motivation for donning the costume is to avenge his father’s death. Either way, Matt is in his early to mid-twenties when he loses his father.

    In Man Without Fear, Jack dies a few months before Matt starts college, which means that a couple of years have passed since the accident. The events between Matt’s training with Stick and Jack’s death happen within a few pages so it’s easy to get confused about the timeframe as a reader, but the captions clear this up for us. In Man Without Fear, Matt also avenges his father’s death rather swiftly so there’s definite Daredevil action without the Daredevil costume early on.

    In the movie, it would appear as if Jack’s death happens within a few months of Matt’s accident. Now, we don’t have to care about the movie at all while discussing the comic, but I’m just being thourough here.

    Short answer:

    Sorry, there isn’t one. This is one event in DD history for which there are clearly two different versions.

  3. Where did Matt go to college and law school?

    Long answer:

    Most people would say Columbia University without even thinking about it. However, the original version of the character graduated from the very prestigious sounding “State College.” Now, how generic can you get? We’re not exactly talking ivy league here, are we?

    Matt’s alma mater isn’t mentioned again until Frank Miller comes along, and when he decided to change it to Columbia University (in issue #168), there probably weren’t that many old school readers with any amount of affection for State College around to protest or even care. Oddly enough, State College resurfaces in the flashback issue “Daredevil -1” by Joe Kelly and Gene Colan that came out in 1997.

    In Man Without Fear, Matt does his undergraduate work at Columbia and then goes to Harvard for his law degree. He gets a job at a Boston law firm after graduation and doesn’t set up shop with Foggy right away, which deviates quite a bit from the original chain of events. This is the version given in the character biography in the Marvel Universe Handbook, though my impression is that most fans, even the many who love Man Without Fear, probably don’t consider that part to be canon. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Short answer:

    The majority opinion seems to be that Matt went to Columbia for both his undergraduate studies and law school. State College seems largely forgotten.

  4. What about Stick?

    Stick, Matt’s mentor and trainer, is introduced during the first Miller run and is a fixture of Daredevil canon at this point. In Daredevil #1, Matt is shown training by himself without any outside help. The addition of Stick, in my mind, adds a lot to the Daredevil mythos and gives a much more realistic version of what happened after Matt’s accident. The idea that he would become a master martial artist all by himself is something of a stretch, and his needing some extra guidance adds weight to the trauma of his altered perceptions.

    In the main series, no reason is ever given for Stick’s eventual departure, whereas this event is touched on more extensively in Man Without Fear where we found out that Matt has been “chosen” to be trained as a warrior. I’m not sure I’m particularly fond of this interpretation (nor am I that big a fan of Man Without Fear generally, with some exceptions), but I suppose this is one of those things that each fan has to decide for himself.

    And, while we’re discussing Stick canon, his soul is currently residing inside the baby Matt saved in Guardian Devil. Where’s Mephisto when you need him, because that’s one event (depicted in Daredevil: Ninja) that I would like to see retconned.

  5. And what about Sister Maggie?

    According to original canon, Matt’s mother died when he was very young. In Frank Miller’s classic arc Born Again we find out that Matt’s mother is very much alive, but that she left him and his father to become a nun. What’s nice about Maggie’s introduction is that it’s never actually clearly stated that she is his mother, it’s all based on Matt’s suspicions and that he detects a lie when he asks her about it and she says that she is not. That slight uncertainty is definitively squashed when Kevin Smith revisits Sister Maggie in Guardian Devil.

    Maggie’s relationship with Jack is touched on in the Daredevil: Battlin’ Jack Murdock mini-series. While probably not considered to be canon by most readers, it certainly gives one plausible explanation for the chain of events.

  6. Other complications

    The extent to which events from Man Without Fear has seeped into Daredevil canon is quite surprising when you take into account that it was never intended to be a retcon, but a movie script. But it was definitely brought into the main book when Joe Kelly referenced an event from the mini-series in the ’97 Daredevil/Deadpool annual. The woman Matt accidentally kills in Man Without Fear is shown to be none other than long-standing Daredevil villain Typhoid Mary, and very much alive. I suppose fans are still debating whether this was a good idea (I think it’s forced and completely unnecessary, personally).

    We also have two mini-series which have attempted to add things to Matt’s history, Daredevil: Battlin’ Jack Murdock, which I already mentioned, and Daredevil: Father. I don’t consider either of these to be canon, but that, again, is up to each reader to decide until something from the particular story in question is mentioned in the main book. Daredevil: Battlin’ Jack Murdock not only adds additional new information to the Daredevil mythos but tampers with some of it as well. The same can be said for Daredevil: Father where we find out the identity of the man Matt saved from being hit by the truck when he had his accident.

  7. Where are we now? Daredevil continuity in volume 2.

    Interestingly, Brian Michael Bendis followed the Man Without Fear origin during his run, whereas Ed Brubaker is sticking with the original. As far as the death of Jack Murdock goes anyway. Below are three examples from the last few years. The first one is from Daredevil (vol 2) #36, by Bendis and Maleev. It shows what Matt himself had to say about his early life when he went out to defend himself against the Daredevil allegations in the press. Note that he uses the phrase “young boy” rather than “teenager.”

Below, in Daredevil (vol 2) #58, still by Bendis and Maleev, we see a very young Matt leaning over his dead father. No established origin gives Matt’s age as younger than eighteen at the time of Jack Murdock’s murder, so this should probably be seen as a continuity goof.

We see a very different image in Daredevil (vol 2) #91, below, by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark. Here, Matt is clearly a young man and not a boy, and Foggy is with him at the morgue. This is much more consistent with pre-Man Without Fear continuity.

Well this concludes my look at some of the major inconsistencies of Daredevil continuity. I hope this has shed some light on these events for people who might have been wondering what’s what. Feel free to leave comments about which origin you prefer or to bring up any other disputed events I might have missed.

Surprising Daredevil nuggets from the Marvel Universe Handbook

You can find tons of funny stuff in the Marvel Universe Handbook. Did you, for instance, know the following?

  1. Matt is not only blind, he apparently doesn’t actually hear all that well either.

    According to the MUH, his hearing threshhold is 7 dB. That of the average human is 0 dB in the most sensitive frequencies (though the MUH says it’s 20 dB, so go figure). Why this has gone uncorrected for three editions of the MUH is beyond me. Maybe they got confused by the human hearing range being 20-20 000 Hz…

  2. Milla has white eyes?!

    Now that’s just gross. I know they’ve been drawn like that a couple of times (ewww), but I’ve never actually heard of anyone being born without pupils or irises. And I’ve seen some pretty freaky things in my day (I used to have a human genetics textbook with enough disturbing images of things gone wrong to almost scare you away from having kids).

  3. Bullseye’s occupation: “Assassin, professional thief; former baseball pitcher, mercenary, extortionist.”

    Question: do you become a professional thief when you can actually make a living “thieving” or when you join the Professional Thieves’ Union? Either way, wouldn’t you just (literally) kill to have his resumé? I wonder what his old guidance counselor would say. 

  4. Distinguishing features.

    This is one of my favorite sections as far as the character profiles go, because they’re quite funny. The Kingpin’s distinguishing feature is given as “bald.” Yeah, that’s it. Is that really the first thing you’d notice about him? Considering he’s 6’7″ (2.0 m) and weighs 450 lbs (200 kg) of solid muscle, his size strikes me as much more of a distinguishing feature, but now I’m just nitpicking. Though body and facial hair appears to be quite common in this category as Melvin Potter is described as “wears a mustache.”

  5. Marital status

    All of the (four) Mr. Fear are single. Who would have guessed? I mean, that mask is such a turn-on. And I love that Starr Saxon’s occupation is listed as “robotocist.” I know that’s sort of a real word and everything ( = someone specializing in robotics), but it still sounds kind of funny. I bet he had a better guidance counselor than Bullseye.

  6. “Zoltan Drago ran a wax museum…

    …and dreamed of creating an army of slaves by causing his sculptures to come to life. While developing a chemical process he thought would make this happen, his thoughts were tainted by the demonic Fear Lord known as the Dweller-in-Darkness, causing him instead to create a gas that induced fear when inhaled.” 

    When you take the origin of Mr. Fear and squeeze it into one paragraph like this, it reminds us all of why we love this kind of stuff. Only in comics I tell you, only in comics…

  7. Foggys full name is Franklin P. Nelson.

    Now what does the P stand for?! Does anybody know? Gloria are you out there? Ah, the frustration! And, in case there was ever any doubt, Foggy’s intelligence rating is the same as Matt’s. But we all knew that already, right?

  8. Here’s the reason the Owl is still single.

    “Distinguishing features: The Owl has occasionally taken on more owl-like characteristics, including eyes able to move independently of each other, a neck able to rotate 180 degrees and the consumption of live rodents.” Damn it, he totally had me up until the part about the rodents…

  9. Karen Page’s resume

    “Radio talk show host; former legal secretary, actress, prostitute, crisis/legal counselor, activist.” She sure had a busy life while it lasted. Too bad heroin addict isn’t an actual job or she could have listed that too. 

  10. The curse of Baby Karen.

    I feel bad for Stick, I really do. He used to be a cool mysterious dude with freaky abilities, now he’s a reincarnated infant (thank you Daredevil: Ninja!). Though you can’t beat his list of occupations: “Leader of the Chaste, sensei, pool hustler.” Sadly, I suspect being a pool hustler pays more money than being leader of the Chaste, though the latter might have a better retirement plan.

  11. So how tall are Stilt-Man’s stilts anyway?

    I bet you really want to know. Well, fret not, the MUH has the answer. “Height: 5’6″; (with battlesuit) maximum of 292′.” For those of you who, like me, use the perfectly logical metric system, that’s 89 m. Hmm, that’s actually pretty high. I’d hate to fall from that height. I also love this paragraph

    “In addition to his armor, the Stilt-Man has used various other weapons during his career, including gas grenades, charged-particle beam blasters, a vacuum device to pull money and jewelry from victims, and a “Z-ray” weapon that could teleport people to another planet and possibly perform other functions.”

    Wait a second here. He had a weapon that could teleport people to other planets and he still kept working the stilts as his unique selling point as a villain. How stupid can you get? He should have gotten an agent.

  12. Turk

    “Education: high school drop-out.” Now that’s a shocker. Stay in school kids!

  13. Twisted childhoods, the case of Typhoid Mary.

    Wow, I suddenly feel so normal:

    “The exact history of Mary remains uncertain. By some accounts she has possessed two personalities since infancy, and has claimed to remember hearing the screaming of her parents in utero.”

  14. Ben Urich.

    “Superhuman powers: None. Ben Urich is an experienced reporter and writer. He is in reasonably fit physical condition for a chain smoker of his age.” I wonder what that means exactly. I mean, just how bad is his emphysema at this point?

Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the MUH with me! 🙂