Meet Ben Urich

May 23, 2008

Meet Ben Urich

May 23, 2008

Ben Urich, who made his return to the pages of Daredevil in #106 (no, I don’t think that qualifies as a spoiler) after being absent since Brubaker’s first arc, has been a member of the Daredevil cast since issue #153, which came out in 1978. The writer who breathed him into existence was Roger McKenzie. Starting with issue #158, McKenzie was joined by new penciller Frank Miller who later took over the writing chores as of issue #168. With the exception of the first two pictures, all of the art below was supplied by Miller.

Since I wrote a post a while back about the introduction of Becky Blake, I thought I’d to the same with Ben. Ben is introduced as something of a mystery element; we see him working in the shadows, his story providing something of a subplot running in the background until issue #164, Exposé, when he surprises Daredevil with the knowledge of his secret identity. The rest, as they say, is history. But, let’s start at the beginning…

The very first page of issue #153 shows us Ben’s typewriter. Ben is working on a story that doesn’t make sense to him. At the end of issue #152, Matt was called to Heather Glenn’s apartment after a frantic phone call from his then-girlfriend. As he arrives at her home, he is surprised by Mr. Hyde and Cobra and Heather herself is nowhere to be found. At the end of the issue, Daredevil is dragged into the sewers by the two villains, and it is here that Ben’s story begins, as the rest of the issue is told in sort of a flashback. What Ben can’t figure out is why Daredevil would be at Heather Glenn’s apartment to begin with:

“After fifteen long years covering the nightside police beat for the Daily Bugle, Ben Urich thought he’d seen it all. He was wrong…”

After this panel, we don’t see Ben again until issue #159, where he’s following up on what Matt has been up to. You get the feeling that he’s been doing some research since his last appearance, and that he may have had some kind of hunch even before the events of issue #153.

“Ben Urich takes a final drag on his cigarette. The veteran reporter doesn’t realize it yet, but he’s just embarked on what will prove to be the most astonishing story of his career.”

In Daredevil #160, we see DD himself seek out Ben Urich for information on Bullseye. Their relationship, if we may call it that, appears out of the blue in this issue, but it seems like Ben and Daredevil have met many times before. However, no information on their previous encounters is ever given. It is possible that Ben may have gotten some additional clues about Daredevil’s most peculiar trait after meeting him a few times and observing his behavior. (Since he is beginning to suspect that Matt Murdock and Daredevil are one and the same, something as innocent as the latter not asking to view any of Ben’s information personally might be a hint.)

On the next page, after Daredevil disappers through a window, we see that Ben has started gathering information…

…which he keeps in a separate file…

…”A folder that he has carefully cross-indexed under ‘M’ as in Murdock…”

In Daredevil #161 we see no further interaction between Ben and DD, but we see Ben following up on his story, visiting Jack Murdock’s old gym and asking some question…

On a “hunch,” Ben correctly guesses the name the local kids used to taunt Matt as a boy: Daredevil.

We meet Ben again in Daredevil #163, where he is watching DD take on the Hulk. Heather Glenn, next to Ben in the crowd, proves to be a very unreliable girlfriend, yet again (it wasn’t her first time), calling out “Matt” as she witnesses the horror on the street.

“For the past few weeks he has been carefully assembling the myriad pieces of the biggest exclusive of his career. Today, with a single world, his journalistic puzzle has been completed.”

In an epilogue to this issue, we see Ben at his typewriter and also get the first glimpse of his wife Doris. Daredevil, meanwhile, has taken a bad hit for going up against a mightier foe and lies unconscious in the hospital. On the page in front of Ben, the beginning of his story reads:

“Few people remember battling Jack Murdock now. He was a second-rate boxer who lived and died in and era of second-rate boxers. All he wanted was a shot at the top. Instead he was shot in the back. It was his murder that prompted his son, Matthew, to become Daredevil…”

In Daredevil #164 (just click the pictures to see them enlarged), Ben Urich confronts Daredevil by going into his hospital room. At first, Matt tries to deny the allegations, but in a few classic panels, Ben Urich calls his bluff by asking him to describe a photograph of his father. He sees no other option but to confess. He begins to tell Ben his life’s story, beginning with how his father raised him and how the other children teased him…

…continuing with his accident and his heightened senses (I included this in part, because I thought it was an interesting take on the original in DD #1). He finally tells him about his father’s murder.

“But, Matt, why did you become Daredevil?”

“I think you already know the answer to that, Ben. Justice. Blind Justice.”

Ben burns his story, and goes on to become one of Matt Murdock’s closest allies, as well as an important character in his own right in the Marvel Universe. This is why we love Ben Urich, and why he’d make such a lousy paparazzo.

1 Comment

  1. alice

    I still get a laugh out of the fact that DD must have some sort of head injury, because he’s got bandages on his head, but they are OVER his mask, which no one removed to protect his privacy. Just how does that work?


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