Reevaluating early Daredevil

Daredevil swings down and lands on a car in Daredevil #14, apparently guided more by its sound than its shape.

If you were thinking that I had gone back into hiding, I certainly wouldn’t hold it against you. It’s been over a month since my last post, and I’ve had my share of false starts over the past few years. However, I do have a few posts planned that I would like to get out there before too long, and I’m hoping to finish the year with a total of at least twenty for 2021.

For this post, I would like to talk about a rather surprising epiphany I’ve had over the summer, while working on my book. Or to be more specific, while rereading every single issue of Daredevil and taking detailed notes about how Matt Murdock’s senses are actually used. What I’ve discovered is that, contrary to the idea I’ve had that Daredevil’s senses have stabilized and gotten more “grounded” over time, a case could be made for a very different kind of evolution. Depending on what aspect of the character’s senses we’re talking about, Daredevil has actually been getting more powerful in at least some respects.

Considering that this is not my first time reading every issue of Daredevil (I have, in fact, read most runs many times), how could I have missed the things I’m now noticing? Where does my bias against the sensory portrayals of early, “pre-Miller” Daredevil come from? Well, I think it comes down to a few different factors:
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Weird moments in Daredevil history

Matt fakes his own death, in Daredevil #54, by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan

I’m working on a certain project I dare not speak of which entails going through a lot of old back issues of Daredevil. In doing so, I’ve come across a bunch of panels and events that are just… weird, yet don’t really fit into any particular post category. We’ll cover three such moments below, but I can pretty much guarantee there will be plenty more of these to come.

Isn’t he dreamy?

The Black Panther guest starts in Daredevil #52, by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith, where he is recruited in the search for the critically ill Daredevil. Before he comes face to face with our hero, who is battling a bad case of radiation poisoning, he has the pleasure of meeting Foggy Nelson, the city’s District Attorney. As seen below, T’Challa appears to have made quite an impression on Foggy.

“He never said a word! But his eyes gave me my answer! They were the eyes of… a man!”

Just out of curiosity, would that be “man” as opposed to panther, man as opposed to woman, or is Foggy just getting a serious macho vibe? Who knows…?

Foggy Nelson meets Black Panther, from Daredvil #52, by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith

Why would you say that?!

Have you ever used a fake ID? I haven’t (I’m really a very law-abiding citizen), but I’m sure at least a few of you have. Did it ever occur to you, as you were flashing that thing, to say something along the lines of: “I hope it doesn’t look fake to you.”? No, of course it didn’t. Because that’s just stupid.

But apparently, there are people who are that stupid. Case in point: Matt Murdock, as seen below in a scene from Daredevil #54, by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan. Yes, that’s Matt in a black wig. He’s just had the brilliant idea of staging his own death, by dragging a red-headed dummy into a plane and letting it explode over the ocean. In order to do this, he needs to rent a plane, and fake a pilot’s license. (And let’s not even get into how many times Marvel’s foremost blind superhero finds himself at the helm of some kind of aircraft.) Everything is going smoothly when he decides to utter: “Hope you don’t think my pilot’s license is a phony!?”

Luckily for him, everyone else in this comic is also a Silver Age character and Matt actually gets away with this. And faking his own death.

Matt fakes his own death, in Daredevil #54, by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan

No one will see me. Because it’s the middle of the night and all.

The panel below, from Daredevil #102, by Chris Claremont and Syd Shores, is really trying to pull a fast one on the reader. They are trying to convince you that there are certain times of the day (or night) where even a guy on stilts, hundreds of feet in the air, can walk around unnoticed in a major metropolitan area. Not even the artist (or was this a decision made by colorist Artie Simek?) seems to believe this nonsense as many of the windows show the lights turned on.

“He moves unafraid –who is there to see him at this hour of the morning. And even if he was seen, who’d believe it? This is San Francisco, pilgrim, not New York, dig?”

You’d also have to wonder whether being seen is really a major concern for Stilt-Man. If it were, you’d think he’d find a more inconspicuous costume…

Stilt-Man stalks the streets of San Francisco as seen in Daredevil #102, by Chris Claremont and Syd Shores

That’s it for now, have a great week everyone!

Daredevil in his own (diminutive) words

I’ll be quite busy for another few days so the longer posts I have planned will have to wait until after my review for Daredevil: End of Days #1 (due out on Wednesday!). In the mean time, I wanted to post this adorable little nugget of Daredevil introspection, from Daredevil #143, by Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown.

“A little brains… a little radar sense, and let’s not forget a little billy club. That’s what little daredevils are made of.”

Daredevil comments on himself, as seen in Daredevil #143, by Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown

Maybe I should start a series called “Little Daredevils say the darndest things…” 😉

Daredevil’s versatile billy club

Those Daredevil fans who are also familiar with the early issues, will know that there was a time when Daredevil’s billy club wasn’t just a cane turned bludgeoning tool. Alongside whatever you need to shove in there to get it to fire a wire attached to a grappling hook, it would feature smoke screen pellets, a plastic sheet, and a snoopscope. And that doesn’t even begin to cover it. Daredevil reminisces about the old days in this very funny page from Daredevil #119, by Tony Isabella and Bob Brown, where we learn that he hasn’t completely given up on finding new purposes for it. Here, it’s used to hold subway tokens!

Daredevil keeps subway tokens in his billy club, from Daredevil #119 by Tony Isabella and Bob Brown

This page is actually funny for more than one reason. For starters, that top right corner could have easily qualified it for the “Seeing things” series, in my opinion. It would (probably) count as an artist’s goof rather than a logical error in the writing, but am I alone in noticing that Daredevil definitely seems to be looking at that subway sign? Didn’t think so. 😉

Matt and Foggy’s roller-coaster friendship (part 2)

Matt tells Foggy that he's going to Japan

Hey gang! The time has come for the second installment of a series of posts looking at Matt and Foggy’s many past quibbles, a topic as relevant as it was just over a month ago when the first part of this series was posted. As you might recall, it ended with my mentioning Matt and Foggy’s reunion following the attempt on Foggy’s life. Matt returned from San Francisco to be at Foggy’s side in New York in Daredevil #108 (vol 1). While Natasha would continue to hold a grudge against Foggy for quite some time over his involvement in her being charged for the murder of the Scorpion (see the previous post). Matt and Foggy are quick to resume their friendship, though their professional partnership fails to get back to business as usual. Under pressure from his re-election campaign as District Attorney (to make things worse, this is one of those strange, rigged, only-happens-in-comics kind of campaigns), Foggy asks Matt to come back to working as assistant in Daredevil #126. Matt asks for some time to think about it, but never takes Foggy up on his offer.

Face-off in court (Daredevil #129, vol 1)

In Daredevil #129, by Marv Wolfman, Bob Brown and Klaus Janson, something interesting happens. Matt decides to take on a case defending Man-Bull that sees him go up against Foggy in the court room. The case revolves around whether Man-Bull is guilty of the premeditated murder of a man who died while he was breaking into a jewelry story. Matt contends that his client is innocent of the charge against him because the victim died six months after the burglary and only as a result of being badly shocked by Man-Bull’s appearance. Kind of a strange case, if you ask me, but Foggy goes on to win a conviction and Man-Bull goes mental and gets busy smashing up New York. As far as the two partners are concerned, things are pretty tense.

Despite the Man-Bull trial, Matt and Foggy are heading toward a legal reunion. In Daredevil #130, Matt decides to go into business for himself by starting the Storefront legal clinic (for the first time), and Foggy happily cheers him on. When Foggy goes on to lose his re-election campaign against Blake Towers (after some villanous meddling) the following issue, he joins Matt at his new practice.

Civil War (Daredevil #148-152, vol 1)

Troubles start brewing again almost as soon as the Storefront gets off the ground. The legal clinic is financed by Heather’s father Maxwell Glenn who also is soon found to be involved in more than a few shady deals (As early as Daredevil #131, we learn that he’s apparently a slum lord). Over the span of some twenty issues, this develops into a complex plot that finally reveals that Maxwell Glenn is being manipulated by Purple Man. Meanwhile, Foggy’s girlfriend Debbie Harris is kidnapped, for what might be months, and there seem to be ties to Glenn. With the heartbroken Foggy seeking vengeance on Maxwell Glenn and Matt (as Daredevil) discovering his innocence, it doesn’t take a genius to see a rift opening up.

In Daredevil #148, by Jim Shooter and Gil Kane, Matt asks Foggy to defend Maxwell Glenn. This leads Foggy to kick him out while muttering under his breath that Nelson & Murdock are through if Matt chooses to defend him (see the panel below). The fighting continues over the next two issues, and in Daredvil #150, Foggy calls to yell at Matt for missing a court date.

Matt and Foggy fight, from Daredevil #148

This sequence of events brings up an interesting first in Daredevil. While Matt had certainly been shown to be moody, even a bit melodramatic, earlier in the book’s history, Daredevil #151 sees Matt going through his first bona fide mental breakdown. On top of everything else, Maxwell Glenn has committed suicide and Matt is wracked with guilt. He has trashed his apartment and when Foggy comes over to check on him, his partner’s state has him worried.

The next issue, we see the two partners appear at Maxwell Glenn’s funeral and neither one of them is in great shape. Foggy punches a nosy reporter and when Matt tries to help, Foggy responds with: “Help? Surrrre, Murdock. I’ve heard that old song before! Yeah, you’ve been a big help these last few weeks, haven’t you? Frankly, Murdock, I’m getting sick and tired of carrying you on my back!” Hm, and here people seem to have the impression that Daredevil didn’t get dark until Frank Miller came along…

Finally at the end of Daredevil #152, it is Matt who makes things right by reuniting Foggy with the estranged Debbie Harris, who had been a traumatized recluse since her kidnapping. Next issue, Foggy announces that he’s getting married and asks Matt to be his best man. The Matt and Foggy ride sure is a wild one.

Truce

For most of the Miller run, there’s little to report in terms of Matt and Foggy’s relationship. In the sense that it’s running pretty smoothly. Foggy is portrayed as a pretty good-natured guy whereas Matt is the moodier of the two, but there isn’t much in terms of diva antics going on. The possible exception might be later in the run when the tables are turned around a bit and Foggy begins to strain under his many perceived burdens and responsibilities. This time, Matt is the one to come to the rescue.

The two remain friends into the Denny O’Neil run, until Micah Synn and his gang from the Kingorge tribe show up in Daredevil #202, that is. That odd chapter of Daredevil history has already been touched on in another post, however, so I’m going to refer you to that instead of covering it again here. The short version, though, is that Foggy behaves very, very badly.

While Matt and Foggy manage to rebound from Foggy’s betrayal during the Micah Synn storyline, things are heading in the direction of yet another break-up for the two partners. The law firm is not doing well financially and when Matt skips town in Daredevil #221, in the wake of Heather Glenn’s suicide, Foggy is not happy, warning his partner that there might not be a practice to return to when he gets back. In Daredevil #225, the last issue before the Born Again story arc, the practice finally tanks and both Matt and Foggy find themselves out of a job.

Face-off in court, round 2 (Daredevil #255, vol 1)

During Born Again, Matt and Foggy drift apart and lose touch as Matt descends into madness and Foggy gets a new flashy job working for the Kingpin. Foggy pretty much disappears from the scene during the beginning of the Nocenti run, but when Matt takes the case of suing a company named Kelco for dumping the toxic waste which blinded a little boy called Tyrone, he finds himself going up against Foggy in the court room. Matt isn’t actually allowed to practice law after being disbarred so he works with/through another lawyer. In Daredevil #255, by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr, we see Foggy dealing with the guilt of representing Kelco.

Foggy has a guilty conscious, from Daredevil #255

In Daredevil #256, Matt comes to see Foggy, offering him a job at the legal clinic he’s running and berating him for his actions. Glorianna O’Breen, who has been dating Foggy since Born Again, turns Matt’s behavior back on himself and accuses him of being a bully and using his morality like a club. It would take much longer still for the partners to get back together again. In Daredevil #287, we see Foggy busy at work trying to get Matt’s disbarment reversed. At the end of Daredevil #291 (Nocenti’s final issue), Matt and Foggy are finally reunited, and happily so.

Fake deaths and secrecy

Nothing tests friendship quite like faking your own death and then showing up again to reveal you’ve secretly been a superhero for years. After a string of issues of business as usual for Matt and Foggy, at the start of Chichester’s run, Matt uses experimental technology and clones (the plot itself is far too complicated to get into) to fake his own death in Daredevil #324. Much later, in Daredevil #347, by J.M. DeMatteis and Ron Wagner, Foggy and Karen find Matt alive and confused, wearing his yellow Daredevil costume. As one might imagine, it takes Foggy quite a while to digest this information, and the two don’t start working together again until Daredevil #353, the first of Karl Kesel’s run, when Matt simply shows up in the court room and follows Foggy back to his office. Despite Foggy’s reservations, this is the beginning of a relatively positive era for Nelson & Murdock and many of the stories told by Kesel, and later Joe Kelly, revolve around the law office and the parterns’ personal lives.

Foggy finds Matt, Daredevil #347

For now, we’re leaving Matt and Foggy on a high note, but we’ve got plenty of drama left when the time comes to look at Daredevil, volume 2.

Locks without fear – Matt Murdock’s fabulous hair

“While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.”

– Mark Twain

I occasionally joke about how no Daredevil-related subject is too obscure for this blog. And this is certainly proof of that (long-time readers may recall that I’ve already devoted a post to Foggy’s facial hair and his tattoo!).

With Chris Samnee’s work in Daredevil #12 – where he juggled two time frames and two different hairstyles for Matt – I knew I had to do a post about Matt’s hair. When I think about it, it’s actually a little strange that I haven’t covered it already considering it’s such a trademark feature. It’s not only the character’s blindness that makes Daredevil unusual, there really are not that many red-headed heroes out there. I’ve seen more than one redheaded fan comment that this was something they appreciated growing up. My best friend is a gorgeous redhead, and I’ll be sure to read Daredevil to her strawberry blond son as soon as he’s old enough. 🙂

So, for this post, we’re going to take a trip into the archives of Daredevil canon and check out Matt Murdock’s impressive head of hair!

Classic Colan

This is the classic, suave look I most associate with early Daredevil and Gene Colan’s long run on the book (the panel below is from Daredevil #29). Shorter on the sides and more length on top. Bright red and sexy!

Matt, sporting his classic Colan hair do, changes on a window ledge, from Daredevil #29

70’s hip

The seventies brought a new varied line-up of artists, such as Bob Brown who supplied the art below (from Daredevil #115, written by Steve Gerber). It also brought a slightly shaggier look and, depending on the colorist, a lighter tone to Matt’s hair.

Matt's hair, as drawn by Bob Brown, from Daredevil #115, written by Steve Gerber

Miller magic

Miller kept Matt’s hair on the long side, with noticeable bangs combed to the side. The color throughout his run was a medium orange. The panels below are from Daredevil #182.

Matt's hair during the Miller run, from Daredevil #182

Nearly blond

Some color artists have given Matt a very blond look with few traces of red. Below is an image from Daredevil #249, by Ann Nocenti with pencils by Rick Leonardi. Colors by Max Scheele.

Matt as almost-blond, by Rick Leonardi. From Daredevil #249, written by Ann Nocenti

Nice and short

By the mid-nineties, someone (Cary Nord, apparently) decided that it was time for a hair-cut and switched to something a little shorter, as seen below in Daredevil #360, by Karl Kesel and Cary Nord. It stays short for the rest of volume 1 and the first issues of volume 2, before temporarily growing back out for the Parts of a Hole arc.

Matt on the couch watching Law & Order, from Daredevil #360 by Karl Kesel and Cary Nord

Goatee? Why not!

While Foggy has been able to play around with his facial hair, Matt has only had any to speak of while he’s been on hiatus as Daredevil (such as during the King of Hell’s Kitchen arc), not counting the times he’s simply forgotten to shave. So, for a while he had an honest to goodness goatee. The image below is from Daredevil #56 (volume 2), by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

Matt and Milla, from Daredevil #56 (volume 2), by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev

“Hair cut? I’ve got a ninja cult to run!”

While Matt looks reasonably well-groomed in the below panel, from Daredevil #506 by Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston, with art by Marco Checchetto, there’s no denying that the longish shaggy do made its return in the Shadowland era.

Matt and Elektra, from Daredevil #506, by Diggle, Johnston and Checchetto

Not even trying anymore

Whether you liked the “Abe Lincoln” beard of Daredevil: Reborn or not, it sure gave Matt that look of not really caring. At all. Panel below from Daredevil: Reborn #1, by Andy Diggle and Davide Gianfelice.

Matt from Daredevil: Reborn #1, by Andy Diggle and Davide Gianfelice

Volume 3 goodness

Since the relaunch, Matt has definitely settled into a more relaxed look, which I guess goes well with his new attitude. From left to right, below is art by Marcos Martín, Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee.

Matt's hair as seen in volume 3

Fashions may have changed, and Matt’s hair along with it, though we haven’t seen anything too extreme. Whether on the short or long side, it looks like the kind of low-maintenance swirl of coppery goodness that even a guy with no use for mirrors can trust to look half-decent no matter what. 😉

Daredevil and the big cats who attack him

Daredevil is rescued by Ka-Zar, panel from Daredevil #12

Before I get to anything else, I want to tell you about an interview that the law blog Abnormal Use did with Mark Waid earlier today, with a particular focus on Matt’s job as a lawyer. The interview also contains spoilers for Daredevil #4 which is due out in stores tomorrow, though these are clearly marked and easy to avoid.

And, speaking of Daredevil #4, anyone who’s seen the preview will know that Matt is going up against some cats. Big ones. One might think that this would be a rare occurrence in Matt Murdock’s life, but as we’re about to see, it certainly isn’t the first time he’ll be battling – or in other ways engaging with – a larger member of the Felidae family. And, before we get to some flashbacks, I’d like to thank fellow fan Francesco for the comment on TOMP’s Facebook page which inspired this post. 🙂

Daredevil #12 by Stan Lee and John Romita

The issue in which Daredevil meets Ka-Zar and is carried off on the back of his kitty. This is going to sound weird, but I think early Daredevil has a real knack for looking like an adorable little rag doll while unconscious.

Daredevil is rescued by Ka-Zar, panel from Daredevil #12

Daredevil #23 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan

The issue which sees Daredevil battle the Gladiator and the Masked Marauder (also known as the world’s creepiest landlord) while beating up a lion with what looks like a lawn chair.

Daredevil beats up a lion with a lawn chair, Daredevil #23

Daredevil #72 by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan

The really strange issue in which Matt first battles, then befriends, the blind Tagak, who telepathically uses the eyes of his jaguar to see. Unrelated, but this issue also sees Matt smash a mirror, thus strengthening the otherwise superstitious notion that doing so causes a bad and prolonged case of bad luck.

Daredevil battles a jaguar in Daredevil #72

Daredevil #111 by Steve Gerber and Bob Brown

The issue which sees Daredevil fight alongside Shanna the She-Devil and her large furry companions. Curiously, Shanna spends the entire issue wearing a barely there lace night gown. By her standards, this means she’s covering up much more than usual.

Daredevil and Shanna the She-Devil, from Daredevil #111

Daredevil #143 by Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown

The issue in which Daredevil learns about the existence of a jungle atop an eighty-story skyscraper which has apparently escaped the attention of city officials. It is, in the words of the man responsible for its construction:

“A jungle paradise eighty stories above Manhattan […] This place is a compromise between reality and my fantasies. A place for survival where a man can really be a man.”

Daredevil battles a lion in Daredevil #143 by Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown

Daredevil #89 (volume 2), by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

The issue which sees Matt Murdock marvel at Ed Brubaker’s decision to make The Matador a legacy villain (and one who is made only marginally cooler by also being able to fight lions).

Daredevil watches the new Matador in Daredevil #89 (volume 2)

Okay! I hope you all had fun making this little journey through the archives with me. I will see you when it’s time to post my Daredevil #4 review.

Seeing things #10

Daredevil points out the color of someone's clothing, Daredevil #126

Yes, it’s time for the next chapter in the series “Seeing things” in which we catch Daredevil, well, seeing things. While we know that Daredevil’s senses can be tuned up or down to suit the writer and/or story, what these incidents have in common is that they clearly appear to be writer (or, more rarely) artist goofs.

For those who’ve missed this series in the past, I particularly recommend the mother of all seeing goofs in which Daredevil sees a painting of the Deathstalker’s mother from clear across the room.

The example below is from Daredevil #126 by Marv Wolfman with art by Bob Brown and Klaus Janson. This is the issue which sees Daredevil fight the Torpedo and it also marks the first appearance of Heather Glenn. In these panels, we see Daredevil interrupt Brock Jones in his attempt to rescue a young boy. Matt is such a glory hog. That bastard.

Daredevil points out the color of someone's clothing, Daredevil #126

Interestingly for the purposes of this series, Daredevil also sees fit to describe Brock as “the man in the gray flannels.” Well, how would he know that? He wouldn’t. On the other hand, to complicate things even further, Brock isn’t even wearing gray, he’s clearly dressed in green throughout the issue. This begs the question of who messed up or even if Wolfman deliberately had Matt call out the wrong color (and has thus made a fool of yours truly). On the other hand, this could be another example of the process that made the originally gray Hulk turn that lovely shade of green.

EDIT: “I’ve since learned this is a literary reference (see the comments) and thus not a seeing goof at all. Aw shucks!”

Either way, I think we can assume that it’s safer for Daredevil to not be shouting out colors at random. Later in the issue, he again proves his blindness by putting on the absolutely hideous pajamas pictured below. Yes, I know this issue was written in the 70’s but that’s really no excuse. Taking advantage of someone’s blindness to sell such a hideous clothing item should really be a crime.

Matt puts on his hideous pajamas, Daredevil #126

Another example of Daredevil seeing things comes from his first encounter with Klaw. Since we know that Klaw will be making a return to Daredevil during Mark Waid’s run, you may want to take a look at it.

A Women’s Day tribute to the Black Widow

Daredevil and the Black Widow, from Daredevil #102

March 8 is International Women’s Day which I thought I’d commemorate with a couple of panels from Daredevil #102 by Chris Claremont and Syd Shores. You see, when I think of bad-ass women in comics, the Black Widow is right at the top of the list and she also gets extra credit for rebelling against Matt more patriarchal tendencies back in the 70’s.

In Daredevil #102, Matt and Natasha fight one of the most preposterous villains in Daredevil’s rogues gallery in the form of Stilt-Man (whose silliest feature might be that he doesn’t have knee joints on those stilts…). In the first panel, we see Natasha react to Matt’s protective tendencies, and next she takes some gentle mocking from Stilt-Man before getting the better of him.

Daredevil and the Black Widow, from Daredevil #102
Daredevil and Stilt-Man, from Daredevil #102

Rock on Natasha!

“Oh, the blind thing? It comes and goes…”

Matt bonding with the Uni-Power

One common element used a lot in superhero comics consists of the hero temporarily losing his (or her) powers. This has happened to Daredevil enough times – and may get its own post one of these days – but another thing that’s happened a few times in Daredevil is the opposite: Matt having his sight temporarily restored.

Within the first year of publication, Karen Page tried to talk Matt into seeing the appropriately named eye surgeon Dr Van Eyck and even intervening on his behalf (and in doing so broke a number of unwritten social rules about not sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong).

Matt leaving for Lichtenbad, Daredevil #9

Of course, with this being Silver Age comics, this little intervention goes south when it turns out that Dr Van Eyck is held against his will by a former law school classmate of Matt and Foggy’s turned despotic ruler of a medieval little hell hole called Lichtenbad. The good doctor is killed at the end of the issue, Daredevil #9, before he gets the chance to work his surgical magic.

Matt, who for some irrational reason is under the impression that having his sight restored might screw with his other senses isn’t particularly disappointed to see the opportunity pass him by. He will get another chance to see again soon enough, well about another thirty issues later, at least. This one involves another despotic ruler of a another fictional country…

Viewing the world through the eyes of Doctor Doom

We’ve covered the odd story told in Daredevil #37-38, in which Daredevil switches bodies with Doctor Doom, before (see “DD stands for Doctor Doom” and “Because I can’t just kill him – Part 7”). The premise itself is goofy enough and it only gets worse as we realize that Doctor Doom goes through an entire issue inside Daredevil’s body not even realizing that he’s blind. Sure, Matt Murdock may not be an ordinary blind guy, but you’d think that a supposed genius like Doom would notice the world suddenly turning pitch black.

Matt, meanwhile, is too busy trying to get back into his own body to even find the time to appreciate getting the chance to see again. At first he doesn’t seem to realize he’s actually seeing since the last panel of Daredevil #37 shows him reacting to wearing armor rather than reacting to having the “lights” switched on. This must have been an unintentional slip-up, because Stan Lee makes sure to address the issue first thing in Daredevil #38.

The story ends with Matt demonstrating his cunning by blackmailing Doom into giving him his body back. He does so by threatening to start a war with Latveria’s neighbors… Unlike the next issue on our list, the Doctor Doom body switch is more a case of Matt experiencing sight again than it is a case of having sight restored to his own eyes.

A sighted journey into space

The next time Matt gets to experience the world in color is in Daredevil #106, by Steve Gerber and Don Heck. And, it’s not even his own world. You see, in Daredevil #105, Matt was transported to Titan by Moon Dragon as her prisoner. When Moon Dragon realizes that she was mistaken in unleashing three villains on San Francisco and kidnapping Daredevil, the two become allies. In Daredevil #106, Moon Dragon is injured and needs Daredevil’s help. That’s when his blindness complicates things and Moon Dragon, who is a very powerful character, restores his vision in order to get them both out of a jam.

Daredevil admits his blindness, Daredevil #106

(Oh, and apparently, the magic extends to temporarily removing the dark lenses from Daredevil’s mask…)

Daredevil has his sight restored, Daredevil #106

Moon Dragon doesn’t just restore Daredevil’s vision, the transformation also leads to his radar sense disappearing. Not being used to fighting without it, he soon finds himself at a disadvantage and asks Moon Dragon to restore him to the way he was. As with the Doctor Doom body switch, Matt isn’t given much time to enjoy his sight and none of these issues offers much emotional depth. That’s all about to change with the next item on our list.

The Price

“The Price,” also known as Daredevil #223, has also been covered before on this site. In this case, it’s an enigmatic character called the Beyonder who gives Matt his sight back when looking to hire his legal services to take over the world(!). As usual, order is restored at the end of the issue and Matt goes back to his usual blind self. The main difference between this issue and the previous ones mentioned above is that Daredevil #223, by Denny O’Neil and David Mazzucchelli, actually takes the time to explore what Matt might want to do and experience if he were given his sight back and how this might affect him.

For most of Daredevil’s early history, it seemed creators had a tendency to downplay the magnitude of the loss that young Matt suffered in his fateful accident, suggesting that all his newfound powers were more than enough to tip the balance in favor of his new state of being. This is understandable. Having readers feel pity rather than awe for the main character was probably not something to strive for. However, a modern view of the character can accommodate a more complex take on Matt Murdock’s unique way of being. Having Matt acknowledge that his loss of sight occasionally puts him in the position of wishing he could have it back doesn’t preclude his enjoying and utilizing his other sensory enhancements. The Price touches on some of the things Matt actually does miss out on and doesn’t feel the need to apologize for doing so.

Through the confused eyes of Laurent Levasseur

The next time Matt finds himself sighted once again is the first time this is achieved by the means of medical technology. On the other hand, not only did Matt not seek out this treatment, he doesn’t know he’s Matt Murdock, doesn’t look like Matt Murdock and can’t remember being either blind or a superhero named Daredevil.

The four-part story Flying Blind, by Scott Lobdell and Cully Hamner, took place toward the very end of volume one, in Daredevil #376-379, and is a very strange story that sadly fails to impress on so many levels. The story begins when Matt, now with dark hair and different facial features (due to some superficial cosmetic surgery) wakes up in a hospital bed in France, where he has been sent on a top secret S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment. As it turns out, he has had his brain “rewired” and had new memories implanted. As far as he knows, he’s a French artist (yes, he apparently speaks French throughout the story), but from the very beginning he reacts to things and experiences feeling alien to him. The rewiring of his brain has also lead to his vision being restored. Naturally, this feels strange to him as well.

Laurent realizing he can see

After spending the better part of the first two issues of this story arc trying to figure out who he is, order is restored in the last issue when he suddenly remembers who he is again. As soon as his own memories return, his sight begins to fade. Apparently, the two are somehow linked. Yeah, it makes no sense to me either (also his eyes begin to get cloudy when the brain rewiring is reversed, how is this supposed to work exactly?). At least he gets a brief look at his best friend Foggy who has come all the way to Paris to pick him up before his sight is completely gone.

Laurent losing his sight again

This story is highly forgettable and I’m not sure I’d even consider it in continuity, it’s that strange. Heck, it’s the only story I can think of that actually features both ninjas and Stilt-Man – in Paris…

Everything’s more fun with the Uni-Power

The last item on our list is a relatively recent one-shot that ties into the 2005 series of one-shots featuring the Uni-Power (which transforms its host into Captain Universe). In the issue dedicated to Daredevil, by Jay Faerber and Juan Santacruz, Matt becomes a host for the Uni-Power and experiences a heightening of his already heightened senses as well as the restoration of his sight.

Matt bonding with the Uni-Power

In the end, having his senses of hearing and smell heightened even further becomes a liability for Daredevil and Matt asks the Uni-Power to leave his body. He has a hard time revealing this information to Foggy, however, who is thrilled that his best friend can now see again, and offers him to take a look at a photo of his wife Milla (why he wouldn’t take the time to seek her out in person is not revealed). Not wanting to disappoint his friend, Matt decides to play along a little longer.

Foggy shows Matt Milla's picture

Well, that puts the tally at five instances of Matt getting his sight back! Not too bad for a guy who should be blind permanently. Most of these cases involve magic (or body-switching), with only the nonsensical Flying Blind story suggesting that Matt’s sight can be restored through any kind of medical procedure (though apparently only as long as he doesn’t remember that he’s blind).

The problem with having a character like Matt Murdock live in the Marvel Universe is that one might easily suspect that he could just pay a visit to Reed Richards or Tony Stark and ask for robot eyes. Then again, one might wonder why not every hero asks for the same thing. It seems to me that all the spare parts people get usually work better than the real thing. Just ask Misty Knight. 😉