Well over a year ago, I started a series called Oh Karen! that was intended to chronicle the life and times of Karen Page, from the first issue until her death many decades later. This was all going nicely until I realized recently that I hadn’t added any new chapters to Karen’s story in well over a year. For shame! If you’re new to this site, and are curious about what happened to Karen before issue #30, have a look at the first three posts in this series.
When we last saw Karen, she had just been introduced to Matt’s fictional twin Mike Murdock, whom Matt invented on the fly in Daredevil #25. Here, we see the Mike Murdock madness continue. So, with no further ado, I bring you Karen’s meeting with Matt pretending to be Mike being Daredevil pretending to be Thor (and, if this story seems familiar, it’s probably because I recently blogged about it in “Because I can’t just kill him” – part 6). From Daredevil #30:
This episode of Oh Karen! looks at the early issues of the Mike Murdock era through Karen’s eyes. I don’t think I’ll ever do a separate post about the madness that was this strange plot development, so what I do have to say about “brother Mike” will have to be said here. I’m sure he’ll pop up again when I discuss an issue he was in, and quite possibly in Oh Karen! #4, but that’s about it. If you want to read more about Mike, I direct you again to the links in this post, and this post.
Completely unrelated, but apparently there’s also a televangelist named Mike Murdock. The annoyingly colorful design of his website, found at www.mikemurdock.com, is only paralleled but the look of his fictitious namesake’s clothes. I personally consider his hideous wardrobe choices as Mike to be solid proof that Matt doesn’t really “do” colors…
So, what does all this have to do with Karen? Well early Karen was quite promiscuous with her affections, and Mike Murdock managed to take her breath away. While she was still in love with Matt, Karen was quite taken with his other personality’s “bad boy” appeal. Below, we have the panel from issue #25 that started the whole thing. Spider-man has sent a letter addressed to Matt in which he confronts him with the fact that he knows that Matt is really Daredevil.
Karen feels embarrassed about opening Matt’s letter, but in the light of the fact that he’s been missing for a couple of issues, she and Foggy were hoping to find a clue. Of course, I do like Karen’s line: “But why would Spider-man have written such a letter — if it weren’t true?” I mean, it’s not like people ever make rash and unsubstantiated allegations, right?
When Matt shows up in the office, a couple of pages later, he is faced with having to come up with a story on the fly. Don’t ask me why a simple “Well, Spider-man is obviously mistaken, as evidenced by the fact that I’m totally blind” wouldn’t suffice in this situation. But then again, when you’re faced with such solid arguments as Karen’s “What would make him say that? Spider-man hasn’t the time to make rash accusations!” what are you going to do? Here, I’d actually like to take a moment and just consider the meaning of the adjective “rash.” My trusted online dictionary of choice gives the following definition: “characterized by or resulting from ill-considered haste or boldness.” Seems to me that rash accusations are exactly the kinds of accusations you make when you don’t have time to put together a solid argument…
Anyway, Matt is put on the spot, and makes up a story about a twin brother no one has ever heard of. Foggy shows an unusual amount of common sense in questioning why he’s never heard of this brother since they’ve been best friends for years. Good question! Matt then goes on to characterize his twin as both reclusive and the black sheep of the family. Things go from bad to worse when Foggy demands to see this mystery brother…
Description: Matt is sitting at his desk with his feet up, dressed in an uncharacteristically bright outfit with large colorful glasses on. A surprised Foggy and Karen walk in the door. The caption reads “And so it is, when Foggy and Karen reach the office next morning they find…” Foggy says “What’s Matt doing with those Loud clothes and sun-glasses? Say! Wait a minute…! Karen interrupts: “Foggy! That… That isn’t Matt Murdock!” Matt, or maybe we should call him Mike, replies “You can sat that again, doll! Ol’ Matt’s the one with the brains, but I’m the family pussycat! The name’s Mike, gang – and try not to applaud – I’m almost as shy as I am glamorous!” To Karen: “Say! No wonder Matthew likes working here! Any more at home like you, baby?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. You’re looking at Mike Murdock’s big debut. I always wondered why Karen or Foggy didn’t question the fact that he’s just let himself into their office, and why he and Matt where never seen together, but thinking too much will inevitably give you a headache. It’s like thinking about where the universe ends or something.
Despite being a fairly despicable figure, “Mike” manages to be quite successful in getting on Karen’s good side, whereas Foggy is more of a skeptic. I really do hope Matt has a good singing voice as he’s doing a song and dance (different panel) routine in the office in issue #26.
Issue #26 is also famous for featuring the story where Daredevil took on both Stilt-man and Frogger (sorry, Leap-frog…). This was enough to score quite a few points with Karen who seems to be thinking “wow, isn’t he just too dreamy…?” Foggy, meanwhile, seems more inclined to agree with the teaser for the next issue: “Mike Murdock must die!”
Mike Murdock does not die in issue #27. But Karen and Matt do manage to get themselves kidnapped by the Masked Marauder aka The Evil Landlord. The Masked Marauder wants to get at Daredevil and tries to get his name. Matt finds himself in a jam, once again, as he is forced to reveal Daredevil’s “true” identity while coming off as the most disloyal brother in the world.
In issue #28, Karen is still upset with Matt for his disloyalty, but seems to have all the time in the world to spend with Mike. Between all the kidnappings and the soap opera twists, it’s amazing they ever did any work at all in that office.
Before going to Carter College to give a lecture about the legal ramifications of aliens arriving from outer space (though Mike has told Karen and Foggy that Matt has already left), Daredevil decided to ruin his friends’ date by dropping in unannounced. In this panel, from issue #28, we see Karen actually thinking, and getting dangerously close to figuring out how the whole thing fits together.
Karen: “How can Mike be so unconcerned about Matt almost giving away his secret! If his hidden identity is so important to him, Daredevil should have been more upset! Unless… there’s another and more important reason…! Something we haven’t guessed! What if it’s Matt, not Mike who’s really… Oh no! It’s too mad! It couldn’t be what I’m thinking… for we know that Matt is blind!”
By issue #29, Matt has decided to propose to Karen. At first, he can’t quite decide whether he should do it as Matt or Mike since he can’t really decide which one is his true identity(!) So, he does what any sound superhero keeping up three identities would do, he lets other circumstances dictate his course of action as he changes outfits high up on a window ledge.
Matt: “Looks like I’ll have to propose in the identity of Matt Murdock… since I just remember that I left my loud Mike Murdock threads back at the apartment!”
First, Matt gets a chance to redeem himself and clear his name when Karen is kidnapped by the Masked Marauder’s men. They have been tipped off by a note left by their boss that the people at Nelson & Murdock know Daredevil’s true identity. Daredevil rushes over there and now pretends to be Matt dressed up as Daredevil in order to protect his brother. Did you follow that? Me neither. This ends in the wonderful “unmasking” scene that is also portrayed on the cover, where we are led to believe that Matt actually wears his shades underneath his mask!
Matt: “I knew the real Daredevil was on his way here! I knew you’d be waiting! I thought… If I could impersonate him… get you to shoot me first.. then you’d think he was finished and you wouldn’t be expecting him! It was the only thing I could think of. The only way to repay him…! But.. I’ve failed!”
At the end of this issue, Matt comes to the conclusion that being married to him is simply too dangerous. In light of his track record as far as relationships are concerned, this is probably a valid assessment. His proposal to Karen was not to be, and it would be quite a few issues before they took their relationship to the next level.
Matt:“Her very life was threatened… because someone merely suspected she knew me! If she became my wife… she’d never be safe for a minute!”
On the other hand, considering that she’d already been kidnapped five times since joining the firm, one wonders how big a difference it really would have made. I really hope she got paid for all those hours she spent as a hostage. Who knew being a legal secretary could be that exciting?
Okay, so let’s check in with Karen again, shall we? Or rather, Karen, Matt and Foggy, since everything Karen does for the next fifteen issues is tied up in what I jokingly dubbed the Love Triangle of Doom a few posts ago. While Dr. Doom was in no way involved, the love triangle itself was indeed doomed. Karen would end up choosing Matt over Foggy, despite Foggy’s every effort. Foggy actively pursued Karen – to the point of pretending to be Daredevil (but there’s enough goofiness in that storyline to warrant its own post somewhere down the line) – whereas Matt pined for her from a distance. Karen, meanwhile, had her eyes set on Matt. Well, except for slight jealousy she felt toward Debbie Harris when she was seeing Foggy. Apparently, Stan Lee didn’t picture women as the kind of bunch who would easily make up their minds about something. Matt, on the other hand, is convinced that all Karen feels for him is pity for a “sightless” man. Yes, Stan’s complete infatuation with the word “sightless” is becoming more and more apparent as it begins to pop up about three or four times every issue in all its corny glory.
Let’s look at the soap opera that was early Daredevil through the lens of some twenty panels from issues #6 through #17. After that, a new chapter begins in issue #25 as the triangle turns into a square – or perhaps even a pentagon, depending on how you look at it – as Matt is forced to make up a fictional twin brother when his secret identity is compromised for the first time. The Mike Murdock subplot would go on for an amazing sixteen issues, and we’ll look at Karen’s part in all of it in “Oh Karen! #3.” Now on to the task at hand!
First, we have three panels from Daredevil #6:
Description: Karen is watching Matt from afar in the office. Foggy is also in the scene. Caption: “And now, back again to our intrepid legal eagles…” Matt is thinking to himself: “It was nice of Foggy to get me this push-button tape recorder, so I could dictate without seeing! But, I wonder what he’d say if he knew I can use the most delicate electronic equipment more capably than a sighted man? From the sound of Karen’s breathing, I know Karen is looking at me! She’s pitying blind Matt Murdock, I suppose!” Foggy on the phone: “Don’t worry Collins! I’ll have that brief prepared for you by Tuesday morning!” Karen thinking:”Oh Matt, I love you so! If only you’d give me some encouragment! Just a word… or a gesture! But I can see that you simply don’t care!” Matt thinking: “It’s hard to think when she’s so near me! If only Foggy didn’t love her, I’d make a pitch myself… Even though it would be hopeless! But she must never know how I feel about her!”
Okay, does anyone want to count the exclamation points in these two panels? And I wonder if Stan Lee knows the meaning of the word dictate, but that’s another story. Let’s see what happens when Ox lands Foggy in the hospital in the wake of an appearance by the first Mr. Fear…
Description: Karen is alone in her apartment. Caption: “And, at Karen’s apartment, where she ponders her most difficult decision…” Karen says “I know Foggy wants to marry me! …And he’d make a wonderful husband! But… I can’t stop loving Matt! Yet, a girl can’t throw away her life for a man who’ll never propose…! Who could be calling at this hour? What?!! Franklin Nelson… In emergency… At Municipal Hospital!! I… I’ll be right there!”
Karen rushes off to the hospital, perhaps wondering why oh why Matt hasn’t proposed yet when it’s been a full five and half issues since their first encounter. Some guys sure like to take their time, don’t they?
Description: Karen rushes to the hospital where she meets Matt. Caption: “While, back in the hospital…” Karen says “Oh, Matt, I always took Foggy so much for granted! But now… Now that he’s in danger… I realize how much I care for him…!” Matt is thinking “I knew it! She does love him! Now I can never tell her how I feel… Never!” Matt says “I… I’d better go now, Karen! But, I’ll be back if you need me!” Karen is thinking “Yes, I care for foggy, Matt… But it’s you I love! If only you weren’t so cold… so unemotional… Oh, Matt… Matt…”
Wow, this is all starting to get pretty complicated. If only people could learn how to communicate! Am I right? 😉 The below panel is from Daredevil #9. The surprise Karen is talking about is that Klaus Kruger, “hereditary ruler of the Principality of Lichtenbad” (and former classmate of Matt and Foggy’s in law school) has promised to take Matt back with him to have an eye operation performed by the appropriately named Dr. van Eyck. The doctor has just relocated to Lichtenbad, and that’s what they were discussing in the preceding panel.
Description: Karen and Matt are walking down the street, arm in arm. Matt is thinking “Lichtenbad? That’s just a fly speck on the map of Europe! Why would the world’s most famous eye doctor move there?” Karen says “Anyway, I’m going to have a suprise for you soon! I hope you’ll like it!” Matt replies “A surprise? What kind of surprise, Karen?” Karen says “If I told you that, it wouldn’t be a surprise any more, would it?” Karen thinks to herself “Oh, Matt, my darling! If only we could stay this way forever… Arm-in-arm… never to part!” Matt is thinking “Her pulse has quickened… Her heartbeat speeded up! I can almost believe she’s in l… NO! It can’t be! …It mustn’t!”
Why don’t you two talk it out already?! Okay (taking deep breath), moving on… Below is another panel from Daredevil #9, which lets us check in on Karen and Foggy while Matt is living it up in Lichtenbad.
Description: Karen is seen daydreaming in the office with her sole remaining boss hovering in the background. Caption: “And, as Matt Murdock waits breathlessly for the doctors next words, let’s return briefly to the U.S., where we find…” Foggy says “Karen, would you get me the file on the sub-mariner case, please?” Karen, looking very absent-minded says “Yes, Matt… Eh, I mean Foggy!” Foggy thinks to himself “She’s been that way since he left! She can’t forget him for a minute! Even though he’s sightless, it’s Matt whom she loves! I can stand right in front of her, and she doesn’t know I’m there! To Karen I’m nothing… Nothing…!” Out of frustration, Foggy punches and breaks a mirror. Karen comes to his aid at the sound of the crash: “Foggy! What is it? What happened?? Oh… your hand! Did you hurt yourself…??” Foggy is thinking “It’s not my hand that hurts me Karen! …It’s my heart! But nothing can change that!” Foggy speaks: “I’m all right! I accidentally brushed past the mirror, breaking it!” Foggy is thinking to himself again: “I wish there were no Matt Murdock! I wish he’d never return! And I hate myself for it!”
Hmm… I’m suddenly wondering if those seven years of bad luck you get for breaking a mirror were accidentally transferred to Matt. Looking at the last thirty years of the comic, it would certainly appear so. Below, in issue #10, we have Karen once again questioning her true feelings. Foggy is running for D.A. and he’s been seeing Debbie Harris.
Caption: “Meanwhile, at the law office, Foggy is elated…” Foggy: “Karen, I’m beginning to believe I really have a chance! The latest poll results show the party is gaining like crazy! You may be looking at the next D.A.!” Karen: “I hope so, Foggy!” Karen thinking: “But why does the prospect chill me? Is it because of her… of Deborah? Am I jealous? Do I really care for Foggy after all?”
Yeah, Karen… Why don’t you make up your mind already? Then again, having one of your love interests go missing in a shipwreck can make you see things more clearly. Below we see Karen mourn Matt’s apparent death in Daredevil #13. This first panel is on the same page as the one I posted in Bad Foggy! and he doesn’t come across as a whole lot more sympathetic here. He wisens up at the end though.
Foggy: “Karen! Pull yourself together! He may still turn up somewhere! Stranger things have happened!” Karen: “No! He’s gone! I’ve lost him forever! He’ll never know how… I cared!” Foggy thinking: “I was right! She did love him! But she can’t mourn him forever!”
Of course, Matt is very much alive (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it), as shown below…
Caption: “And so, Foggy Nelson receives an unexpected cablegram a short time later–!” Foggy: “Karen! It’s from Matt! He’s alive! He’s in England right now! Do you hear — Matt Murdock is alive!” Karen: “Oh Foggy! This means he was saved when the plunderer attacked his ship! I-I’m so happy!” Foggy: “And what’s more — he needs us! There is an important case coming up in Britain which he wants me to try for him! Involving someone named Ka-Zar!”
Below are two additional panels from #14 where Foggy is something of a jerk once again, and Karen is finally reunited with Matt.
Foggy thinking: “Just when I felt that I myself could have a chance with Karen! But what’s wrong with me?!! Matt’s my partner — my friend! I can’t wish him any harm! — If only Karen didn’t care for him!” Foggy says “Call the airport — we’re flying to London!” Karen: “Oh Foggy! Isn’t it wonderful! We’ll all be together again — the way it used to be!” Foggy: “I asked you to call the airport — not to make speeches!” The, thinking to himself: “Easy, Foggy — easy! Get a grip on yourself!” To Karen: “Sorry Karen! I didn’t mean to snap at you!”
Description: Foggy and Karen meet Matt at the airport in London. Foggy says “Matty boy! You ol’ sonuvagun! It’s great to see you again!” Matt: “Thanks Foggy! It’s good to be back!” Matt thinking: “The way she called me darling! If-if only I could feel she meant it!” Karen: “Nothing’s been the same without you, Matt! You mustn’t ever leave us again!”
Wow! If only that would have been enough. Instead, here we find them having the same problems in issue #16.
Description: The caption reads “But, what about the real Daredevil? Let’s visit Matt Murdock, and find out–” Karen says to Matt, as she leaves the office, “I’ve no date tonight, so I guess I’ll curl up with a good book!” Matt replies “Sounds like a great idea, Karen! Hope you enjoy it! See you tomorrow morning!” Karen is thinking: “Oh, Matt — Matt! You big goof — can’t you even take a hint?? Why can’t he feel about me the way I do about him? Won’t he ever ask to date me??”
Before moving on to the next two panels, from issue #17, some explanation is required: Spider-man has tracked Daredevil to the offices of Nelson and Murdock, and assumes that Foggy must be Daredevil. Spidey is quite paranoid about the whole thing too since the Masked Marauder has sent a number of Daredevil look-alikes after him, and actually dangles poor Foggy from the office window in an attempt to get him to confess. This plants the seed for Foggy’s brilliant idea to pretend to be Daredevil to win Karen’s love. No one ever said being a guy in love was easy. Though I guess I wouldn’t know. Being a girl and all…
Caption: “While, back at the law office of Nelson and Murdock…” Matt: “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do anything to help..!” Karen: “Don’t be silly, Matt! What could you… or anyone… have done against Spider-man!” Foggy is thinking: “The tone of voice she uses when she says Spider-man… If only I could hear her mention my name with such awe! And yet… Perhaps I can!”
Oh no, Foggy! Don’t go there, it ends badly. Believe me! Poor guy, now he’s even jealous of Spider-man. Below is a panel with some kind of record-breaking seven thought balloons. This was apparently enough for a self-congratulatory statement from Stan the Man himself.
Foggy is thinking: “I feel like a heel for trying to give Karen the wrong impression! And yet… All my live I’ve dreamed of being a heroic figure! Even in college, I remember how it was Matt who had all the glamor! Although blind, it was he who won top honors in every course, while I just plodded along! I’ve always been nothing but… Mr. Ordinary! I don’t know where this will lead to, but I can’t back out now! I’ve got to see it through!” Karen is thinking: “Matt has been so silent through all of this! Can it be that he’s envious of Foggy? It isn’t at all like him, and yet… What man wouldn’t wish that he could be Daredevil himself?” Matt is thinking: “I don’t know why Foggy is doing it, but he doesn’t realize how dangerous it is! He’s putting his life on the line! If the underworld should get wind of this, he’ll be a target for half the trigger-happy hoods in town!”
“Chalk up another no-prize award for our Batty Bullpen! Seven thought balloons in one panel… Undoubtedly a new world record! — Sensation-monger Stan!” Okay, I think everyone has had about enough panels for one day (and for some reason, placing all these images behind a cut didn’t work this time…). In the next installment of this series, we’ll look at what happened when Mike Murdock was thrown into the mix!
I wonder if Stan Lee, when he created the “gorgeous Karen Page” for Daredevil #1, had any idea that his innocent piece of eye candy would turn into a heroin addict and prostitute. Karen eventually broke free of her addiction and returned to normal life before she died of a billy club to the chest at the hands of Bullseye. Or Kevin Smith, depending on how you want to look at it. Either way, it’s a terrible way to go. Oh, and I hope I’m not spoiling anything for anyone here, but this happened ten years ago (real time), so… Well, tough luck!
While people who have only read Volume 2 may not be all that familiar with Karen, she has a long and interesting history, which I thought I’d explore in a number of posts, starting at the very beginning. In the beginning, Karen was a picture of beauty and innocence, so sweet that if you could eat her, she’d be cotton candy. She was also immediately pulled into a love triangle with Matt and Foggy who both pined for her. She, in turn, had a thing for Daredevil – and Matt. Let’s have a look at some Karen moments from the first four issues, shall we?
Here’s Karen way back in Daredevil #1 from 1964. Notice the lovely hairdo and the ever so becoming Florence Nightingale tendencies:
Description: Their conversation continues in the next few panels: Foggy says, “No! Matter of fact, I hoped he’d be here! I don’t like him wandering around town alone!” Karen says, “I understand! What a pity such a wonderful, handsome man is so handicapped!” Foggy thinks “Wow! I’d sure like to hear her talk about me in that adoring tone of voice!” then says to Karen, “Don’t let his blindness fool you Karen! He’s still the smartest, most capable, most courageous fella I know! He doesn’t even seem to mind not seeing!” Karen answers “There’s something about him that makes a girl want to take him in her arms and… Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Nelson! I had no right to speak that way! It’s just that he seems to need someone to look after him!”
In fact, she gets so invested in Matt that in issue #2, she decides to contact a Dr Van Eyck on Matt’s behalf in the hope that an operation might restore his sight. Matt isn’t particularly enthusiastic about the prospect. Not because Karen shouldn’t be sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, but because he fears that having his sight restored might affect his other senses as well. This makes absolutely no sense, but oh well. That’s comic book logic for you.
In issue number three, Karen is taken prisoner by the Owl, but not until after she’s spent yet another panel feeling sorry for him (seriously, she did that just about every other panel she was in…).
Description: The caption reads “And, upon joining Karen and Foggy again…” Foggy asks Karen and Matt, “I’m going to take Karen bowling tonight, Matt! How about joining us?” Matt replies, “No thanks, Foggy! I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to appreciate it! A spare and a near-strike sound about the same to me!” Karen thinks to herself “Poor Matt! My heart goes out to him for his handicap! If only I could take him in my arms…!”
After Matt – ahem – Daredevil rescues her from the Owl, she has something of an epiphany. She recognizes something of Daredevil in Matt. Who would have guessed?!
Description: Karen and Matt are walking down the street together when they stop. There’s a close-up of their faces as Karen stops to look at Matt. She says “It’s odd… even though you say that… you remind me somehow of another man… A man who is so totally different!” Matt answers, “Oh. Well, eh… I guess we’d better be getting home now…” Next panel, the caption reads “And, after reaching the city, as Matt slowly walks away…” Karen thinks to herself “I must be falling in love with him! Why else would such a shy, quiet, handicapped man remind me of… of all people… the man called Daredevil??!”
In Daredevil #4, Karen – who seems to be in perpetual danger – is once again rescued from the mind control of the evil Purple Man. It appears, however, as if she somehow sees something more in Matt yet again. This time she shrugs it off with a classic “I guess I’m just a silly female!” Indeed you are, Karen!
Description: Final panel of the issue, Foggy and Karen watch Matt leave the office. Foggy says, “There goes one of the greatest guys in the world! It sure is a pity he’s blind!” Karen responds, “And yet, for some strange reason, I sometimes feel he sees more than any of us! I guess I’m just a silly female!” A final caption reads “Daredevil, the fearless adventurer whom the world has taken to its heart, will thrill and amaze you again next issue! Join us then for the all-new action and Marvel-type surprises!
Well, more Karen coming up (eventually) in Oh Karen! #2. I’m guessing it will take about twelve chapters or so to bring us right up to 1998, the year in which she met her untimely demise.