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:
Continue reading “Reevaluating early Daredevil”

Daredevil #32 – A sensory revisit

Okay, let’s take that second look at Daredevil #32, shall we? Specifically, at the “sensory aspects” I mentioned in my review. You see, I found the scene of Matt entering the Jester’s house and finding the fake Foggy to be so well done from a senses perspective that I wanted to revisit the scene and tell you what I found so impressive about it.

Let’s start off with this first couple of panels that shows Matt face to face with fake Foggy. His reaction is clearly not what the Jester expects…

Matt in the Jester's house, as seen in Daredevil #32 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

“The Jester’s lured me into a trap. That’s obvious. I’m not stupid. But no whirring machinery, no sniper’s heartbeat, no whiff go knockout gas… what does he expect me to find? Wait…”

Now, what is interesting about this scene is that not only that Matt doesn’t quite recognize what it is he’s “looking” at, he doesn’t even fully register that he’s looking at anything at all, or at least not anything interesting or attention-grabbing. Not at first.

I can see some readers potentially reacting to this, wondering what Daredevil’s senses are good for if he can’t “see” something that’s right in front of him. I will get back to why and how this makes sense (at least to me) in my treatment of the following panels, but for now I will say this: The “delayed reaction” interpretation of the radar sense has actually been quite common throughout Daredevil history. The list of scenes in which Matt assesses a situation by sort of peeling back the layers, and finally commenting to himself that “now, my radar sense is picking it up!” is definitely a long one, and it spans every decade of Daredevil publication.

One of the more recent cases of this phenomenon that come to mind is a scene that is somewhat similar to this one, from Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s run. In Daredevil #104 (vol. 2), Matt comes home to find that his wife Milla (driven insane by Mister Fear) has left her nurse beaten on the stairs in front of him.. When Matt enters, he at first doesn’t notice the unconscious woman. It is only after he smells the blood and focuses his attention in that direction that all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

This example is relatively recent, but as mentioned, it has been common for Matt to pay more (and more immediate) attention to information gained from his other senses. This is evident in these panels from Daredevil #32 as well. Matt is clearly listening and smelling for threats before doing anything else.

Matt walks into the Jester's trap, Daredevil #32 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

“And what is this? A Jaycees haunted house? Who are you supposed to represent? Real dead bodies have a distinct odor, Jester. This smells like foam rubber and latex.”

Only after Matt has dismissed any immediate threats coming through his heightened senses of hearing and smell, does he appear to pay much attention to the dangling body shape in front of him. This may seem odd, but it need not be. The fact is that all of us generally “sense” more than we “perceive” and are able to consciously pay attention to even less. More and more research supports the idea that our own sense of feeling as if we see, hear and take in almost everything around us is largely an illusion. Just google “inattentional blindness” and “change blindness,” or better yet, look them up on YouTube, and you’ll be amazed at how much all of us actually miss without even knowing it.

When you look at Matt Murdock’s senses (and lack thereof), there is the further complication that many of the things that usually grab our visual attention, such as colors, details, the distinctive features of things we recognize, are not available to him. More than likely, his idea of Foggy probably includes an expectation of a certain “Foggyesque” shape, but far more distinctive are things like scent, his voice and other bodily sounds (heartbeat, breath sounds, the intestines moving around), footsteps, a general movement pattern. All of those characteristics that scream Foggy to him, as opposed to someone who may just be of the same general body type, have been removed from this lifeless dummy who, to Matt, could be anybody.

Of course, even just any body hanging from the ceiling, might be expected to grab someone’s attention, but again, that’s if we assume the same hierarchical ordering of the senses that exist in people with the usual five. The radar sense (regardless of what it is, for these purposes just thinking of it as an ability will suffice), is absolutely necessary in order to explain how Daredevil can do the things he does as a superhero, no doubt about it. However, in the larger scheme of things, the radar sense, when seen as a vision analogue, isn’t really a very good source of high-resolution information for him the way his other senses are.

The radar sense lets him navigate safely through the world, and makes it possible for him to recognize objects with distinctive enough shapes, but I find it highly doubtful that Matt expects to “visually” be able to make sense of everything he encounters, especially right away. A stationary scene like the one in Daredevil #32 likely requires some active sampling of it before the pieces that make it up can be properly categorized and understood. He also reaches out to touch the dummy, which is obviously another way to gather more information about objects in the absence of 20/20 color vision. In this kind of context, a body (or other object) hanging from the ceiling might seem to gradually reveal itself. Matt recognizes what it is, to an extent, but not in the immediate way that the Jester expected.

Je parle français? Mais oui!

Daredevil speaks French in Daredevil #90 by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

We don’t really know much about what Matt Murdock studied in school except for that he eventually graduated with a law degree. One thing that seems certain though, is that French was likely on his list of electives. While it was hinted in New Avengers #16, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato (the issue when Daredevil fights Nazi-robots and joins the team) that Matt speaks German – at least if Jessica Jones is to be trusted – he has been caught speaking French “on panel” several times. See them below!

Daredevil versus voodoo practitioners

Panels from Daredevil #310, by Glenn Alan Herdling and Scott McDaniel

Daredevil goes up against forces greater than himself in Daredevil #310, by Glenn Alan Herdling and Scott McDaniel, which was part of the Infinity War crossover, but he seems to have a decent handle on the language at least. In his own words:

French was never one of my best subjects, but I know enough to understand these goons, even through their Haitian dialect.

Daredevil goes deep undercover in Paris

Matt as Laurent Levasseur in Daredevil #376 by Scott Lobdell and Cully Hamner

The Flying Blind arc, written by Scott Lobdell with art by Cully Hamner came right at the end of volume one and spans issues #376-379. I’ve mentioned this story arc in another post so I won’t go into the details except to say that it basically revolves around Matt having his brain rewired by S.H.I.E.L.D. This not only restores his sight(!), but has him believing that he’s a frenchman by the name of Laurent Levasseur. I think we can assume that some of his language skills (he’s able to pass for French…) are part of the rewiring, but it probably didn’t hurt that he had a foundation to build on.

“I’m trying to concentrate on the conversation in front of me. But it’s difficult. It’s as if… As if I can hear every word – every sound – on the waiting area outside. […] Oddly enough, It’s all in French. Odder still – I find that odd. I mean, I’m French. Right?”

Torture by American accent

Daredevil speaks French in Daredevil #90 by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

After Matt breaks out of prison early in Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s run, he heads back to Paris as part of a trek around Europe in search of Foggy’s killer (Foggy was presumed dead at the time). Here in Daredevil #90 (vol 2), he is seen doing his regular routine. In French:

“Je ne peux pas promettre que vous atterrirez dans la rivière…”

The exchange ends on a very humorous note when the man dangling above the river begs him to switch to English. 😉

There may be other cases I’ve missed, but I think the above instances pretty much cover it. As a well-versed and well-traveled man, I wouldn’t react too strongly if writers come up with new languages for Matt to have at least some very basic proficiency in, but I can’t remember seeing other languages spoken by him being featured in the comics. If you can think of any, let the rest of us know!

Some thoughts on Daredevil and travel

Hey all! I just came back from me second trip in as many weeks after spending five days in Matt Murdock’s home town New York with my family. I’ll get back to that, and some general thoughts on traveling – from a Daredevil perspective – below, but first, here’s a gentle reminder of some previews: Daredevil: End of Days #3 goes on sale on December 5, as does the second half of the Domino-Daredevil team-up featured in X-Men #39!

My trip to New York

Times Square, my photo

New York is one of my very favorite places in the world to visit. It’s crazy big – big enough to be home to what feels like several smaller towns, each with its own vibe – and feels truly international.

What really struck me on this visit was also how incredibly loud the city is. Maybe my head was in more of a Daredevil mode on this trip than it usually is, but I couldn’t help thinking back to Mark Waid’s comment from last year (couldn’t find the specific interview though) where he marveled at Matt’s decision to live in New York, as opposed to out in the middle of nowhere. It’s certainly something that makes you wonder. On the flip side though, as exhausting as living in New York would be to a person with heightened senses of hearing and smell (every corner in mid-town smells of whatever is being cooked by a diverse range of street vendors…), it would also make navigating that big maze that much easier.

Thoughts on travel

Matt leaves for Europe, from Daredevil #87 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

If New York seems overwhelming yet “information dense” to our favorite blind lawyer in tights, actual traveling to and from that city must be overwhelming for very different reasons. This is something I’ve thought about quite often when traveling. Daredevil’s physiology seems uniquely adapted to the kind of late night crime fighting he regularly engages in, especially when operating in an environment with which he is intimately familiar. Not all environments are as kind. In his video interview with Blastoff Comics from earlier this year, Mark Waid had the following to say:

“Unlike most comics characters, Daredevil is a character who actually gets less powerful over time, in a sense. Not physically, he still has the same powers, but think about how much of our lives we live onscreen now, how much of our lives we live virtually. […] It’s a constant thing of people reading things on screens.”

Photo of Airport signage. Original source:

I personally can’t think of a single activity of modern living that is more screen-dependent than travel, air travel in particular. My trip to Thought Bubble in Leeds two weeks ago consisted of checking in by using a touch screen, then getting myself to the right gate, getting from my arrival gate to the London Underground station at Heathrow, going to King’s Cross train station where another touch screen fed me my train tickets for Leeds. To figure out which platform to go to, I had to stare at a big light screen and wait for the right information to appear. There were few, if any, audio announcements throughout this trip, and getting from point A to point B, without asking for directions or assistance, would have been impossible if not for my ability to read screens and signage.

In the panels seen above, from Daredevil #87 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, there is little hint of any problems on Matt’s part in getting out of the country (though he did end up hitching a ride on Danny Rand’s jet), but I do remember thinking that it all looked a little too easy. I realize that the mechanics of travel may not be something a storyteller wants to get stuck on while trying to tell a bigger story in a limited number of panels, but I have to say that of all situations for Matt to fake complete sightedness, anything involving airports must be the absolute worst. 😉

That’s it for now! Check back with me over the weekend for some of my favorite Chris Samnee moments of his tenure as Daredevil artist so far. The interview I did with him for the podcast gave me plenty of reason to take another, closer look at his work, so I figured, why not do a post on it?

The bespectacled Matt Murdock

A while back, when I wrote a post about Matt Murdock’s hair – because, apparently, no subject is too mundane for this blog – I got a request for a post about Matt’s sunglasses. Yes, I write weird posts about Daredevil minutiae and you surprise me by asking for more. So, let’s once again take a journey into the Daredevil archives and check out Matt’s shades.

Before getting to the show and tell part of this post, however, I wanted to talk a little bit about why he’s wearing them in the first place. While sunglasses are often associated with blindness (in people’s minds at least), not all blind people wear them. In fact, a majority do not and there are only two real reasons anyone would. The first is that many eye conditions make people light sensitive, meaning that bright light actually becomes painful or prevents the full use of whatever residual vision that person might have. The other reason is cosmetic. While some blind people have perfectly ordinary-looking eyes, some conditions or eye injuries obviously alter the appearance of the eyes. To save oneself and others from whatever discomfort this might presumably cause, some choose to cover their eyes. While I have no statistics to support this, I suspect wearing sunglasses solely to cover up some kind of eye deformity was much more common back in the days when Daredevil was first created (i.e. 1964), if only for the reason that society generally has become more aware and accepting of physical differences.

In the case of Daredevil, I don’t think any of the early creators even considered letting Matt go without dark glasses. In fact, the artists seemed to really go out of their way to hide them from the readers’ for the first few years (one notable exception being a scene in Daredevil #9 where he has his eyes examined by a doctor). One of the first times we get a good look att Matt’s exposed face that isn’t partly obscured by a shadow or at a strange angle is in Daredevil #51 (written by Roy Thomas and pencilled by Barry Smith, see panel below), and even in this case the eyes aren’t really visible. On a side note, isn’t this a fantastically dramatic couple of panels? Also, why does that barbell look all crooked, and is that an ashtray I see?

Matt's eyes are revealed (sort of) in Daredevil #51 (vol 1), by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith

Over time, it has become much more common for artists to draw Matt’s eyes, even in close-up panels, but how they are drawn differs quite a bit. I suspect a separate post could be devoted to this subject alone (wait a couple of years until I’ve really run out of things to write about…), but suffice it to say that some artists – David Mazzucchelli comes to mind – have drawn them looking completely normal whereas others (I suspect a majority) have drawn some version of what one would expect damage from a chemical spill to look like. In case you needed another reason to avoid getting nasty stuff anywhere near your face, high doses of radiation are actually known to cause cataracts (i.e. a clouding of the lense), so artists who choose to draw Matt’s eyes looking a bit pale and semi-opaque probably aren’t far off. Of course, cataracts would likely be only one of several signs that something is amiss and it’s pretty unrealistic that he could have made it through a chemical accident bad enough to blind him almost instantly and walk away without fairly obvious visible reminders of the ordeal.

Either way, Matt clearly wears sunglasses for cosmetic reasons. On the one hand, as a lawyer, it might be wise to eliminate any cause for distraction that would lead a client or jury to focus more on a physical peculiarity than on the case he’s trying to argue. On the other hand, there could be more to it than that. Matt has always struck me as relatively vain, or at least concerned about looking presentable (see my post The fashionable Mr Murdock), but it’s also quite telling that he only ever shows his eyes to people he knows extremely well, even in very private settings where professional considerations wouldn’t be necessary.

There are several recent examples that hint at what might be a genuine insecurity on Matt’s part. In Daredevil #107 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, Dakota comes knocking on his door. Matt at this time is in a really bad place, having just lost his wife to insanity, and he isn’t even showing up to work. When Dakota decides to pay him a visit, he’s wearing nothing but the bottom half of his Daredevil costume, but when he gets to the door to let her in, he’s put his glasses on and thrown on a shirt, though not bothering to button it. Apparently, Dakota is a close enough friend at this point to get a good look at his chest, though not close enough to see his eyes. Four issues later, in Daredevil #111 (by Ed Brubaker and Clay Mann), their relationship reaches a new level of intimacy when the two train together in Matt’s private gym. Despite the fact that wearing glasses seems downright inconvenient in this kind of setting (especially when they don’t actually do anything for him), he keeps them on. Well, until we see him wake up next to her in bed the next morning, that is.

In stark contrast to the kind of modesty he seems to show around most people, Foggy is clearly a close enough friend that Matt won’t bother hiding anything from him. This distinction between Foggy and other people is evident in the 2003 Daredevil movie, but it’s something I’ve noticed many times in the comic as well, especially in the last several years. His choice to “hide” behind a pair of dark glasses does seem to be less about putting others at ease and more about what he feels comfortable with personally. The only instances that come to mind of Matt not bother to wear glasses for an extended period of time is during Born Again (in a story that saw him descend into madness) and during his time as Jack Batlin, an alter ego he assumed while pretending to be dead…

Well, enough psycho-analyzing for now. For whatever reason, Matt Murdock and his shades have seemed nearly inseparable for almost fifty years. Let’s take a look at some of the trends, as drawn by some of Daredevil’s artists through the years.

Wally Wood

Once upon a time, Matt was really attached to his shades. Or maybe it would be more appropriate to say that his shades were attached to him. Possibly with glue. Below, we see Matt work out in the pair of black aviator-style sunglasses he wore at the time. We also see him come to the odd conclusion that blind people shouldn’t get married… The scene is from Daredevil #8, written by Stan Lee.

Matt works out in his shades, Daredevil #8 by Stan Lee and Wally WoodA real world example of these glasses might look something like this.

Gene Colan

Whenever I think of classic Daredevil, I think of Gene Colan’s artwork, and I guess this is true for a lot of fans. In his hands, Matt’s eyewear got a little heavier and I suspect he was trying to emulate another the typical 60’s version of men’s horn-rimmed glasses. Below are panels from Daredevil #25, written by Stan Lee. As a small bonus, I also included a look at “Mike Murdock’s” decidedly crazier eyewear. 😉

Matt's glasses as drawn by Gene Colan, from Daredevil #25, written by Stan LeeReal-world example of the above look.

Mike Murdock, as seen in Daredevil #25, by Stan Lee and Gene ColanIn the event that you’d like to emulate this particular look, you can get your own here, fortunately more neutral in color and more modest in style.

It’s worth noting that Gene Colan pretty much stuck to this style for his work on Daredevil, which spanned decades. Here is an example from the 90’s, as seen in Daredevil #366, written by Joe Kelly.

Bob Brown

In Daredevil #115, written by Steve Gerber, we see Matt in a different look. More precisely, a flat top metal rim creation that I had a hard time finding a real-life example of (follow this link to see one of the closest matches I could find). In case you’re curious, Daredevil #115 came out in 1974.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #115, by Steve Gerber and Bob Brown

Frank Miller

Another classic look is the one from Frank Miller’s run, as seen below in Daredevil #173 (finished art by Klaus Janson). These aviator glasses are still fashionable today and don’t look too different from how Paolo Rivera would draw them.

Matt's glasses, as seen in Daredevil #173 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

David Mazzucchelli

Mazzuccheli also stuck to the aviator look, even though these frames don’t look quite as light-weight as the ones seen above. Below are panels from Daredevil #210, written by Denny O’Neil.

Matt's glasses, as seen in Daredevil #210, by Denny O'Neil and David Mazzucchelli

John Romita Jr

John Romita Jr’s take on the shades is heavier yet and have a definite late 80’s feel to them. Maybe something like this? The panels below are from Daredvil #254, written by Ann Nocenti.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #254, by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr

Lee Weeks

Lee Weeks continued in the same vein as Romita Jr, though the lenses below (from Daredevil #292, written by D.G. Chichester) look slightly less opaque.

Matt's glasses, as seen in Daredevil #292, by D.G. Chichester and Lee Weeks

Cary Nord

We are now firmly into the 90’s, and Matt’s look has been updated a bit. As you might recall, rounder glasses were in fashion there for a while. The panels below are from Daredevil #254, written by Karl Kesel.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #354, by Karl Kesel and Cary Nord

Alex Maleev

Somewhere along the line, in 2003 to be precise, the Daredevil movie happened. In the movie, Matt Murdock wears red-tinted glasses and this was a trend that spread to the comic as well. I kind of like the red lenses myself, and Maleev obviously incorporated the look in his take on Matt. The panels below are from Daredevil #43 (vol 2), written by Brian Micahel Bendis.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #43 (vol 2), by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Michael Lark

The red tint stayed during Ed Brubaker’s and Michael Lark’s run, though Lark’s take was a little less round and a little more like this. The panels below are from Daredevil #82 (vol 2).

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #82 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

Present day

Not going to say much about the current run since it’s ongoing and you can all check for yourselves (you’re not going to make me do all the work, are you?). What little I will say is that it’s interesting the Paolo Rivera abandoned the red tinted lenses in favor of the more classic Miller-esque look whereas Chris Samnee’s take is more of a Maleev meets a late Gene Colan. I like that each artist has his own take on this little detail. Besides, I would imagine that Matt owns more than one pair of glasses. Maybe he’s got a drawer somewhere of all the different pairs he’s worn through the years. 😉

Which look is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section!

Update 2018: This post now has a follow-up. Click here to read The other “mask.”

Daredevil guest stars in The Punisher #7

Daredevil fights the Punisher, from The Punisher #7, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark

Hey gang! This won’t be a full review or anything, I just thought I’d post a couple of panels of Daredevil – and Matt – in action in this week’s issue of The Punisher, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. The events that involve Daredevil butting heads with Frank Castle take place sometime in the not too distant past, continuity-wise, and most of the issue (which I thought was pretty good) sees us following two cops around as they’re discussing Castle and his actions, rather than showing much action directly. Of course, one of the coolest things about this issue was seeing Michael Lark (with Stefano Gaudiano inking and Matt Hollingsworth on colors) draw some Daredevil again!

Daredevil fights the Punisher, from The Punisher #7, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Matt Murdock representing a client, from The Punisher #7, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Two cops discuss Matt being Daredevil, from The Punisher #7, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark

In other news, Amazing Spider-Man #677, featuring the first of two parts of a cross-over with Daredevil, comes out on Wednesday next week and previews have surfaced in several places, including CBR. Also out next week is New Avengers #20, and there’s naturally a preview of that too. See ya!

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.

The fashionable Mr Murdock

Almost two weeks ago, I promised to do a post about the fashion history of Matt Murdock. Obviously, I lied. No, that’s a little harsh. Frankly, I totally forgot about it (even after digging up all the panels I needed). So, for those of you who have been looking forward to this post – go ahead and admit it – let’s have a look. The 94.1% of you who have JavaScript enabled can just click the thumbnail images to make them pop up to full zoom (click again anywhere on the image to close). This is true for all images on the site in case you didn’t know.

Matt Murdock – mild-mannered attorney

Matt with Foggy and Karen, from Daredevil #25 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan

In this early panel from Daredevil #25, by Stan Lee with art by the inimitable Gene Colan, we see an example of the classic Matt Murdock look. A dark suit, usually black, brown or blue, coupled with a tie. It’s a nice, clean conservative look, perfect for a lawyer. Though I have to ask: What the heck is up with that purse?

While Matt has kept to this kind of workwear to the present day, it’s interesting that early Daredevil features nearly exclusively images of Matt in either his Daredevil costume or a business suit. Matt Murdock the civilian who lounges around his apartment in a t-shirt and sweat pants obviously hadn’t been invented yet.

Mike Murdock – wanted by the fashion police

Mike Murdock charms Karen Page, Daredevil #28, by Stan Lee and Gene Colan

I’ve said before that Mike Murdock is the proof that Matt doesn’t really do colors. This is what happens when he decides to ditch the safe suits and improvise. And this outfit, from Daredevil #28, wasn’t even the worst in “Mike” Murdock’s wardrobe. We must wonder where he got this suit to begin with. Maybe a dishonest salesman decided to dump some of the harder to sell suits on the blind customer. Note to Matt: Go with something safer or take your girlfriend with you when you go shopping. Please. This is a travesty.

The groovy seventies

Matt and Heather, from Daredevil #127 by Marv Wolfman, Bob Brown and Klaus Janson

By the 70’s, with more than one hundred issues under his belt, Matt’s wardrobe had diversified quite a bit. There are many items that don’t match the straight one-piece dark suit description. For the most part, he looks pretty darn classy too (as classy as the decade itself allowed).

From Daredevil #128 by Marv Wolfman, Bob Brown and Klaus Janson

On the left, in a panel from Daredevil #127, by Marv Wolfman with art by Bob Brown and Klaus Janson, we see Matt being more or less attacked by new acquaintance Heather Glenn. I’m not sure I’d match a striped tie with a plaid jacket, but the fit is nice at least.

On the right, from the following issue (same creators), Matt is hitting the streets of New York – still with stalker Heather Glenn in tow – in a different kind of outfit. The jacket looks a little big, but I like the fitted pants.

Miller and the 80’s

Matt showing his suit in Daredevil #185, by Frank Miller

I really like this panel, from Daredevil #185, because it’s such a classic superhero image with the hero revealing the hidden costume underneath his suit. All artwork in this issue is actually courtesy of Klaus Janson, but it’s a good representation of the whole Miller era and echoes his penciling style (which was usually inked by Janson). Lots of blue suits, occasionally ill-fitting, but pretty stylish for the most part. There is definitely a Robert Redford vibe happening here.

The hideous winter coat that should never be Born Again

Matt sports a hideous winter coat, Daredevil #229 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli

Matt spends quite a bit of time during the classic Born Again storyline walking the streets of New York, out of his mind and stripped of everything he owns. To add to the whole street look, he wears this hideous winter coat. It looks even nicer after the Kingpin nearly drowns Matt although we may have to give it some credit for possibly pulling double duty as life vest. David Mazzucchelli drew an oftentimes stunning Matt Murdock, but this winter coat should be left in the back of the wardrobe where it belongs.

Casual in the 90’s

Matt sports a casual look in Daredevil #361, by Karl Kesel and Cary Nord

The 90’s may be known for a lot of things, including Daredevil’s switch to the now infamous armored costume. After things got back to semi-normal following Chichester’s time at the helm, Karl Kesel came along and gave the book an unusually carefree vibe. Daredevil suddenly started featuring lots of scenes of Matt and Karen hanging around the house, and we got to see Matt wearing clothes that didn’t scream lawyer. One such example is from Daredevil #351, with art by Cary Nord.

Modern sex appeal, Maleev style

Matt and Foggy, from Daredevil #37, vol 2, by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev

During the Bendis and Maleev run, Matt reached new heights of both style and general attractiveness. Like something from the pages of GQ, Matt really started dressing like a hip New Yorker and even got a goatee to match for a while when he took a break from superheroing.

Matt fighting ninjas, from Daredevil #57, vol 2, by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev

As far as I’m concerned. Maleev’s Matt was as hot as it got, and it was nice to see him wear a wide range of different outfits. Or hardly any clothes at all. That worked too. And yes, drooling over a fictional comic book character is totally fine. Guys do it all the time…

That’s a lot of suits…

Matt picks out a suit, art by Michael Lark

Michael Lark also had the opportunity to try a few different styles, though the orange jump suit was definitely a first for Matt Murdock. After traveling around Europe following his escape from prison, Matt settled back into his normal routine for a while. Though maybe things got a little too boring since his wardrobe (shown here in a panel from the Without Fear arc) is obviously filled with many nearly identical business suits. Brown was a common color too, as well as black, bringing us right back to basics.

Matt Murdock – leader of The Hand

Matt in a panel from Daredevil #505, by Diggle, Johnston and Checchetto

We haven’t seen much of Matt lately as he’s spent most of his time in his Daredevil costume since Diggle took over the book. During the most recent arc, Left Hand Path, we finally got to see him out of costume again, and it was something to behold. Here we see Marco Checchetto try out a new look for Matt and I have to say I like it!

Only the current creative team knows when Matt Murdock will show up in a business suit again, but he usually looks nice when he does.

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

Panel from Daredevil #116


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:


  • 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 and echolocation

As I’ve mentioned over the course of my ongoing series A history of the radar sense, Daredevil’s ability to detect and identify objects and obstacles has been described in several different ways. One interpretation is that is actually works like a real radar in that Daredevil’s brain sends out an electromagnetic signal which bounces off surrounding objects and returns to his brain. A variation on this theme (see panels below, from Daredevil #167 by David Michelinie and Frank Miller) is the active sonar which instead suggests that the signal sent out is ultra-sound. The principle is still the same though.

Daredevil's radar as sonar, from Daredevil #167
Daredevil's radar as sonar, from Daredevil #167

Continue reading “Daredevil and echolocation”