Things that have me excited for the Daredevil relaunch – Part 6

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been crazy about ninjas. Don’t get me wrong, there have been stories where ninjas figure prominently – say, The Elektra Saga – that have been top notch, but from my perspective, that’s usually more in spite of the ninjas than because of them. By the same token, it was hardly the ninja element that made Shadowland as underwhelming as it was, even though I did let out a small sigh when Lady Bullseye showed up during Brubaker’s run.

Regardless of how you feel about ninjas in general, I think most of us can agree that we’ve had enough ninjas recently to last a good few ninja free years. I’m happy to say that Mark Waid apparently feels the same way:

“No plans for the existing foes, except to say that — with all due respect to the fantastic work of all my predecessors — I can go a long, long time without ever seeing Kingpin or a ninja again.”

Source: CBR, March 20, 2011

Having said that, the upcoming list of villains that have been mentioned in various interviews is one of the few things I’m concerned about. However, the way The Spot – an otherwise rather silly, though menacing villain – is handled in the few preview pages we’ve seen from Daredevil #1 shows that it would be wise to keep an open mind. The same goes for Klaw, who is set to appear in Daredevil #3. Still, I generally prefer Daredevil to be the “superhero comic for people who don’t read superhero comics.” That is, I prefer both the supervillains and the traditional superheroics to be toned down compared to what you find in many other books. I very much enjoyed the more traditional superhero runs of Karl Kesel and Joe Kelly, so I don’t mind terribly, but I’ll admit that seeing names like the Silver Surfer mentioned gives me pause.

But to get back to the positives, and this entry’s raison d’être, I’m very happy to see both ninjas and the even more over-exposed Kingpin banished from the pages of Daredevil for a good long time!

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.

12 comments

  1. Joe Kelly is probably the most underrated DD writer ever. I personally love his run.
    While I join you in being very happy that Waid doesn’t plan to use Kingpin or ninjas again anytime soon, I hope he doesn’t ignore the fact that Matt Murdock is a ninja. I love the fact that he can’t go to a doctor for some injuries/pain and has to meditate. I love that he has a dojo full of weapons under his home where he goes to practice his martial arts. I love that the Hand and the Chaste consider him and Elektra some sort of “chosen ones”. Bendis really knew how to use the ninja aspects of DD really well without ever having him fight ninjas, but yeah its time to move on from Kingpin/Bullseye/The Hand.

    I’d love to see Matt Murdock interact with some of the X-Men characters. He never has really, except for Wolverine and a few sparse guest appearances over the years. You’d think with all the Hand stuff going on Psylocke would’ve shown up with Wolvie during the Shadowland stuff, but then that would’ve required editorial to put actual thought into that story. Or better yet, something I mentioned in a post weeks ago, Daredevil and the Starjammers on a intergalactic swashbuckling adventure.

  2. @ Robert, I second this. Sorry Christine, but I love me some ninjas. I will say that Daredevil is a character that thrives on creative writing and tone more that who is guest staring or who is the villain of the moment. The Hand and Stick and that mystical history gave readers a wonderful X-factor to why Matt is such amazing fighter. That was always lacking in the days of the “Scarlet Swashbuckler.” I say about half of our ninja time was good and Shadowland was a story that had been building in DD’s long history for years. I’m still disgusted with its execution, but I hope that creators, long term, don’t think ninja stories are bad.

  3. Guess, what guys? You’re absolutely welcome to disagree with me, and I know there are many more readers out there who feel the same way you do.

    I think Stick was a great addition to the Daredevil mythos (I mean, before Stick there was nothing and the notion that Matt trained himself from skinny blind kid to master martial artist is a bit much to swallow), and I don’t mind for a bit that he meditates to dull the pain and things like that. But, to me, that’s more of a general Eastern philosophy/martial arts thing as opposed to the full-blown ninja action that I’m not so sold on.

  4. I’ll go a bit further and say I’ve always wished Matt himself did more “ninja stuff” as far as weapons go. He has been shown to have his own personal arsenal of weaponry, yet never uses anything but his billy club. Thats a problem with comic book characters in general. Everyone has their iconic weapon of choice and no one wants to veer away from those. My favorite moment in the mediocre (opinion) DD: Father was when Matt got completely beaten down, then went home and suited up with armor and various weapons and went back to kick butt. He’s a skilled archer yet has never used a bow except when training with Stick. The cane/billy club/rope line is iconic and should always stay DD’s “go to” weapon, but he should keep his options open depending on who he’s fighting. I know I’m in the minority on this one and this is a minor thing as most of the time Matt has been shown to only need one weapon. Matt vs dozens of Yakuza in the rain with only his cane is still the most badass moment in DD history.

  5. While I agree that recent DAREDEVIL has been oversaturated with Hand/Kingpin storylines, I think a decision to not feature Kingpin (for a while) is rather odd. Simply put, if the story coming in is Matt cleaning up his Shadowland mess, atoning with his friends, getting his life back together, etc., wouldn’t it make sense for him to clean up the huge ninja criminal empire that he created and that Kingpin seemingly usurped? Last I saw Kingpin, he had taken control of the gigantic Shadowland complex. And that story won’t be resolved? The Kingpin of crime steals Matt’s base and establishes it as his own and Matt doesn’t look into this? It seems to me that this is too large a plot thread to simply leave hanging. I suppose it will have to be chalked up to willful blindess on Matt’s part, an unwillingness to confront his mistakes.

  6. Well, the question is, how badly do we really want to deal with Shadowland? I know that I’m on the super-relaxed end of the caring-about-continuity spectrum and that most readers probably care much more than I do about unresolved plot threads, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m fully willing to pretend Shadowland never happened.

    Of course, Mark Waid is more responsible than I am and it seems like at least some of the repercussions of Shadowland will be addressed, but I actually think it’s nice that he’s not held hostage too much by a story that I’d like to never be reminded of ever again. But hey, that’s just me. 😉

  7. @Christine – I don’t believe you. You’ve already stated that one of your major gripes with the ending of DD: REBORN was how Matt simply sidled into Foggy’s home as if nothing had ever happened. It was objectionable to progress the story as if the past (i.e., SHADOWLAND) had never happened. I see this as no different in kind, though Kingpin is admittedly a less central character in DAREDEVIL than is Foggy. It’s not like wrapping up this thread would take 6 issues though. The city of New York could have decided to condemn and blow up the Shadowland fortress; Kingpin retired to Key West. End of story.

    As much as some roll their eyes at “continuity” (and I don’t mean to include you here, Christine), it’s only continuity that gives us characters we give a damn about. If all of Matt’s stories don’t happen in the same universe, then we don’t have A Matt: we have many Matts. We get a new Matt every new DAREDEVIL story. While it would be nice, in principle, to simply ignore any story one didn’t really enjoy, I think the loss of characters that exist independent of any single storyline would be too great. I don’t argue for finishing the Kingpin-Shadowland story for the sake of Kingpin’s character; I argue that one should do so for Matt’s sake. It makes Matt a fuller character.

  8. I absolutely think that continuity matters and that part of the charm of having characters whose lives span many decades is that you’re able to build a history for them. However, I do think that Shadowland should be referenced as little as possible, and supply only the bare minimum of what we need to believe that things are in fact taking place in the same universe. For a new creative team to come onboard, with a completely different tone in mind, and with a relaunched title (which allows at least the semblance of a mild reset) and be forced to deal excessively with a poorly executed story despite having other and better stories to tell would, I think, do more harm to the character than taking the softer approach to this matter that it appears Mark Waid has in mind.

    When it comes to Daredevil: Reborn, it’s a completely different matter. Diggle wrote Shadowland and then wrote Reborn as a follow-up to that. Shadowland was not only his to deal with and try to make sense of, but Reborn was directly connected to Shadowland in a way that Waid’s run isn’t. Also, the way Reborn ended disappointed me because it seemed to break the logic of the arc itself. The last few pages of the last issue were jarring because they couldn’t be separated from what had come before, being as they were an organic part of the same story. The ending became almost a deus ex machina moment. Diggle broke the “rules” of his own story.

    As I said, continuity absolutely matters to me, but when I mentioned that I’m very relaxed about it, what I really mean is that I don’t necessarily see comic book time as perfectly linear. I see each event of a character’s history as making up a piece of the mosaic which defines the character in the present. That means that events in the present can retroactively affect my perception of previous events and make them fade away and become less important as new developments occur. When enough water passes under the bridge, a very early take on a character can become entirely irrelevant or even contradict a later interpretation of that same character. The core remains the same, but I must admit that I have a hard time consolidating the modern Daredevil with the guy who landed Reed Richard’s rocket in Daredevil #2. For all intents and purposes, it’s as if that story never happened because it has nothing important to say about who Matt Murdock is today. My point is that continuity should work to serve the purpose you mention, to make the characters we care about fuller characters, but in order to do that we also have to be ready to let things go lest we keep the characters in a state of suspended animation in which they are held hostage by past events and prevented from growing.

    I think the point I’m trying to make is that it’s more important to be respectful of who a character has been (which, of course, is something we’ve learned through past events), than to follow a very literal interpretation of what a character has done. For this reason, I’m in favor of well-executed retcons. You can still have the initial sequence of events inform your opinon of the character in question, while at the same time be open to the idea that the events which brought the character to that point can be told in a more compelling fashion years after the fact.

    A sense of continuity is vital to our ability to care about characters, you’re absolutely right, but for me continuity is more powerful when it’s seen as a rich mythology to be inspired by rather than a strict literal account of events of equal importance. Daredevil exists in the here and now in the minds of all his fans and the idea of who he is constantly updated and revised. In one way, Matt Murdock in 1964 is absolutely the same character as Matt Murdock in 2011, but in very many ways the way we imagine these two renditions of the same character are very different.

    I know I was being a bit harsh when I said we should just forget Shadowland, and I admit that I would probably also be a little peeved if it wasn’t dealt with at all, but I do think it should be handled as swiftly as possible and cause as little distraction as possible in the telling of the new stories that these new creators want to tell. This includes perhaps leaving some questions unanswered. Just like the question of why Foggy never mentioned Mike Murdock after he found out that Matt was Daredevil. 😉

  9. “Just like the question of why Foggy never mentioned Mike Murdock after he found out that Matt was Daredevil.”

    Waid should have Foggy mention this to Matt if he touches on the Shadowland stuff! Even something as basic as “You want us to pretend like Shadowland never happened? Sure, that’s totally resonable! What’s your next request Matt? Would you like us all to start calling you Mike Murdock again?!”

  10. @AP – That is perhaps the greatest idea I have ever heard.

  11. How about just a throwaway line between Matt and Foggy about how the Avengers sent Kingpin and the Hand running scared, and demolished the fortress after Shadowland. Which is what should have logically happened. Now Hell’s Kitchen is a safe and good place to live (which it is in real life) and Matt and Foggy can move forward. Matt obviously has to deal with his responsibility in everything but let Kingpin and the Hand lick their wounds for a while in Japan for a surprise return sometime around 2020.

  12. There’s more to martial arts and Eastern philosophy than just ninjas. I think some writers are limiting themselves by sticking to this tired routine because it served Miller so well. Ninjas are fine, but there are other areas that are ripe for story potential.

    Given Matt’s professed Catholicism, how much value does he actually place in Eastern philosophies or religions or in their help towards helping him cope with all this GUILT he’s been under for what seems like decades now? How about a DD-version of Wolverine’s original mini, a sojourn through the Orient where he is seeking resolution and atonement? (I hear the Silver Samurai calling).

    I think the martial arts background adds a unique dimension to the character, it just hasn’t been fully explored yet.

    As for Kingpin…….he’ll be forever DD’s main nemesis and that I like. But a breather now and then is always appreciated. Being overused, their dynamic becomes stale and repetitive which would be wasteful.

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