When Colin Bell (of ComicBooked.com) and I talked about Daredevil, he asked if I had any favorite issues. Aside from my all time favorite Daredevil #191 (Roulette), the others on my top ten list are difficult to rank, but one issue that’s dear to my heart is Daredevil #304 by D.G. Chichester, with pencils by Ron Garney. So, for no other reason than nostalgia – as well as being able to provide a demonstration of “simple” often being brilliant – here’s a little spotlight of one of my most cherished nuggets from the Daredevil archives.

Panel from Daredevil #304, by D.G. Chichester and Ron Garney

Daredevil #304 – 34 Hours

“34 Hours” is a play on the issue number (or so I assume), and the issue is as close to a day-in-the-life-of story as you’re going to find in Daredevil. While I’m not ordinarily a huge fan of issues where Matt appears only in costume, this is a very character-driven tale that takes place in various places around New York. Interestingly, Daredevil is never portrayed as being the center of the story, watching instead from the sidelines and inserting himself into other people’s “stories,” saving the day as needed.

The title “34 Hours” is a reference to the timeframe during which the issue takes place and the full meaning of it is explained at the very end of the issue, through the use of captions:

“Daredevil knows the streets, while the man named Matt Murdock who lives behind the mask knows the statistics. A “normal” day means a murder every 3 hours, 55 minutes. It’s the rare 24 goes by that spares a human life. And when it does, it’s not that a city’s protectors have been provided a much-needed breather… it’s that some family’s been saved from another tragedy. It comes from less than an avenue away, with the suddenness of a serpent’s strike. A moist-sounding whistle-slash of steel cutting deep into flesh. Anguished gasp dwindling, vanishing under the all-too familiar copper reek of blood. 34 hours out of the entire year.”

It’s not clear whether Matt Murdock gets any sleep at all during these 34 hours, but his first heroic act comes from saving the life of a small child whose stroller is caught in the closing doors of a subway car. While the scene is dramatic, there is no violence or malice at play (though one might argue that there’s negligence on behalf of the subway operator). Daredevil gets to play the role of the kind of hero who is just as happy rescuing cats from trees as he is throwing tough guys through the window of Josie’s Bar.

His next act of heroism is even more mundane. A young woman – a small town tourist, no less – is trying to catch a cab when an arrogant hot shot New Yorker cuts ahead of her and takes her cab. Daredevil, in an act of chivalry, pulls the man out of the cab and instructs the woman to get in. No lives at stake, just a man in a costume trying to make NYC a little bit more pleasant.

As the hours pass, the level of violence escalates and Daredevil’s further adventures are told mostly through the captions which are sprinkled liberally across every panel. Chichester strikes a rather interesting balance between the restraint and emotional detachment of a seasoned news reporter and his distinctive “senses writing” which offers us Daredevil’s perspective of the events:

“Images of colliding, featureless figures echoing their way back to the top of the arch. Tension so thick he can almost feel it raising the hairs on the back of his arms underneath the supple red of his suit. Daredevil sees none of it — and follows it all. Senses drifting, focusing, then moving on again as radar comes back from 360 degrees at once — a wholly unique world view of the seemingly separate, mental pictures forming of how it might all come together.”

Daredevil’s later intervention in a park, where three separate events come together and nearly cause a tragedy, is greeted by the applause of the gathering crowd, another example of something you don’t see much these days. This is a story that reminds us that being a superhero was at one time, at least occasionally, a gratifying venture for Matt. The entire issue sees him make a very real difference to people’s lives and he actually gets to enjoy both the accomplishments and the admiration of those he seeks to protect.

Second panel from Daredevil #304, by D.G. Chichester and Ron Garney

All good things inevitably come to an end, and the last page sees Daredevil overhear, from a distance the murder which puts an end to 34 hours of relative tranquility. In a way, it highlights the tragedy of Matt’s existence. Though he can do many things for many people, he can never do enough and his fight will never end.

The technique used to tell this issue is a little unusual, and that’s probably one of the many reasons it stands out to me. The script and the art combine to give slightly different takes on the events of the story with the art carrying significantly more emotional impact than the seemingly distant narrator. Daredevil #304 is an issue that combines the profound with the mundane and puts the title character in a larger context than what is usually seen, giving us a slice of daily life for the people of New York and one of the men in costume who has set out to protect them.

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.

9 comments

  1. This is my very favourite issue of all time. Every time I see a baby in a pram at the train station, I think of Manny! I’m glad you gave it the spotlight.

  2. I read this issue after reading your interview on Comic Booked and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the tip. And I LOVE that panel with the apple.

  3. I’ve never read this issue… but look forward to it sometime soon! I approached my own project labouring under the misapprehension that everything goes south in volume one after Ann Nocenti’s run so I’ll be glad to be proven wrong.

    1. The first 20 issues or so of Chichester’s run were great, it’s only later that it goes south (in my mind anyway). Then again, I really disliked most of the Nocenti run (yes, I know I’m in the minority…) so the first few issues of Chichester felt more like a return to form.

  4. Wow, sounds like a really terrific issue (and great interview by the way).
    I’ll have to track this issue down then.

    For my two cents worth: I don’t really get all this subdued hatred for Chichester. I don’t own the entirety of his run but the arcs I do have (Fall from Grace, Tree of Knowledge, a smattering of other issues), upon re-reading, I found to be generally good. His writing was tight, vivid, and dramatic. McDaniel’s art was great as well.

  5. Whoa! You didn’t like Ann Nocenti’s run? Not even the Typhoid issues? Oh I loved that character. In fact issue #260 is probably one of my all time favorite Daredevil issues EVER.

    I did skip out around when Inferno began. But recently I’ve picked up the entire remaining issues I was missing of the Nocenti/JrJr run, as well as the Lee Weeks issues (all the way up to #300.) And one of these days I’m gonna sit down and read them all!

    Sorry, I went so off the subject at hand there…

  6. FWIW, the 34 hours wasn’t a play on the 304 — although I can see how it might be interpreted that way. (And if I was more clever, I might have gone that route!) In truth, I was an avid reader of Newsday during my run, picking up all manner of NYC centric factoids to then run through the Murdock filter. They ran a story that was the foundation of the story: namely, that it had just come up that a full 34 hours had gone by in the city without a single murder. And that was the jumping off point for the “What if…” of how would DD occupy his time during such a stretch.

    Thanks for the review/reminder. It’s always been one of my faves, too. (And oddly enough it just came up in conversation, out of the blue. Must be something in the air? Maybe another 34 hours just came and went!)

    1. Wow! Dan Chichester is in the proverbial house! Really nice to hear from the actual writer of this issue. Very cool. 🙂 Also interesting to hear that the 34 Hours reference came from an actual news story and not the issue number. As I mentioned in the review, this really is one of my favorite issues and has a real timeless quality to it.

  7. Very cool indeed! It’s always great to see the former and current DD writers comment! It makes me feel like it was more than just an assignment to them. The Fall of the Kingpin arc is one of my top 5 favorite DD arcs. It’s the first DD story I read so it will always hold a special place for me. Really gels nicely with Miller’s work too. I’ll have to pick #304, sounds like a great issue.

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