Actually, it is easy being Daredevil

Matt Murdock has a bit of a reputation for having had perhaps the worst luck in the Marvel Universe (though Peter Parker certainly gives him a run for his money).  Things just don’t tend to work out terribly well for our devil in red.  But, has he really had it so bad?  Sure, he’s had some heartbreaks and rough patches, but at least his problems are kind of normal (for superheroes).  He’s been saved from experiencing a lot of the truly weird with which other MU heroes have struggled – and this is all just off the top of my head.

Captain America:  Cap was frozen in ice and then thawed into a world he’d never known.  And that’s not even the weird part.  He fights quasi-insane versions of himself every other day: the 1950s Captain America, Jack Monroe, John Walker, Red Skull in a Steve Rogers clone body, Protocide.  His dead protégé and best friend turned out to be a live Soviet assassin.  And then Cap was shot by a gun that displaced him in space-time so that the Red Skull could take control of his mind and body.  Because who wouldn’t want to live in your archenemy’s body?

Captain America: Reborn #1; Zola explains the plan.Professor X:  While in utero, Xavier sensed his evil twin, Cassandra Nova (who was conceived without a body or something), and tried to kill her.  Eventually, she took control of Xavier’s body and his psyche was split into pieces stored in every living mutant mind.  And then it was reassembled somehow.  His guilt over wiping Magneto’s mind somehow became an independent evil entity named Onslaught that basically killed everyone.  He also had an alien lover.  (This is never considered weird because most Marvel aliens are hot, but think about it.  Wouldn’t you at least hesitate before you have sex with another species?  Is there any way to get around calling this bestiality?)

Scarlet Witch:  She married a robot.  Then she magically made herself pregnant with twins whose father was said robot.  It turns out that these children may or may not be parts of Mephisto’s soul.  After losing these children, she went crazy, killed Jack of Hearts, killed Ant-Man (Scott Lang), killed Vision, killed Hawkeye, changed the entire universe into a mutant utopia, and then de-powered every mutant no one cares about (and Magneto).  And she just tried to marry Dr. Doom, so I’m not sure if her taste in men is becoming more or less traditional.

Avengers #503; Beast explains about Wanda's children.Hulk:  Bruce Banner’s control over his own mind teeters back and forth like a seesaw.  One day, he can control himself as Hulk.  Another day, Hulk just wants to rip apart Rick Jones.  One day, Hulk is monosyllabic.  Another day, he’s a genius.  And then add in the fact that Hulk has been banished to an interdimensional crossroads and shot off of the planet – and this was by his friends – to keep him away from Earth.  He has a daughter from an alternate timeline, Lyra, who traveled to his timeline in order to get knocked up by Earth’s greatest hero.  She is only one of about 581 different Hulks walking around right now.

Spider-Man:  I think he’s been cloned about 31 times.  There are so many clones of Peter Parker that it seems silly to even have a secret identity: 10% of planet Earth is also genetically Peter Parker.  While off fighting Secret Wars in space, he was bonded with an evil, alien symbiote for years.  Gross.  That symbiote has since bonded with lots of other folks who hate Spider-Man.  Later, he was transformed into a huge spider and then gave birth to himself.  And then there’s that whole deal with the devil to get rid of the marriage he loved.

Spectacular Spider-Man #20; Peter emerges from his dead spider body.Thor:  The son of Odin has had to share his body and mind with three separate mortals: Donald Blake, Eric Masterson, and Jake Olsen.  During these times, he can see whatever the mortal does and they can see what he does.  This usually involves Thor screwing up their personal lives.  It’s a miracle he didn’t go crazy sooner than he did.  When he did finally crack, he kind of beat the crap out of everyone until Thanos and Odin fixed him.  Eventually, he and all the Asgardians die, but he just decided to live again because you can do that.  Really, that’s not such a strange notion when your entire race routinely dies and is reborn.  While it may be strange to have a god as a father, it’s stranger still to have a physical embodiment of a planet as a mother, even if that planet is Earth.

Jean GreyAccording to one count, she has died fourteen times (though several of these have been later retconned to be someone/something else).  At various times, she is either empowered or possessed by the Phoenix Force, which sometimes makes her do bad things like kill billions.  (Or, I guess, it was someone else.)  Really, anything with the Phoenix Force is too damned confusing by itself.  On her honeymoon with Scott Summers, she is magically transported into the distant future by her daughter with Scott in an alternate future (Rachel Summers) in order to raise the child of Scott and another woman (Nathan Summers).  That child comes back in time to fight his own clone.

Fantastic Four #286; Jean Grey becomes the Phoenix.Cyclops:  Seemingly everything in Scott Summers’ life has been manipulated by either Mr. Sinister or Professor X.  He has found two long-lost brothers he didn’t know about (hidden by Professor X), one of whom took over and ruled a galactic empire.  He married a woman who looked exactly like his dead girlfriend (created by Mr. Sinister) and then ran off on her after they had a son, who he would end up raising in the distant future with Jean Grey.  He also has a daughter, Rachel Summers, from an alternate future, who hangs out with him.  Also, he died once, but he got better.

Ms. Marvel:  Carol Danvers was kidnapped by the son of Immortus, Marcus, taken to an alternate dimension, brainwashed, raped, and impregnated with a child who, upon being born, rapidly ages into Marcus himself.  If that weren’t weird enough, she was attacked by Rogue, who stole all her memories and powers.  Professor X later restored her memories, though she has no emotional attachment to them or to anyone from her life prior to that moment, e.g., her parents.  She was transformed into a space-faring being that drew powers from a strange nebula or something.  This gave her fiery red hair that was actually kind of cool-looking.  Then she just exploded.  Luckily, she was put back together by baby M.O.D.O.K.s.  No, really.

The Pulse #13; Ms Marvel recounts her pregnancy.Wolverine:  Despite the fact that everyone knows his name is Logan, that’s not even his real name.  His mind has been wiped so many times that it’s a miracle he can feed himself anymore.  He is the hero of choice for villains looking to easily create a killing machine through a little brainwashing (Team X, Weapon X, Professor X, Apocalypse, the Hand).  In addition to all this overt manipulation, he has also been covertly manipulated by someone named Romulus for the entirety of his life and for indecipherable reasons.  He has a crazy killer son, and a slightly less crazy killer clone-daughter.  The world has lost count of how many body parts he’s lost over time, though thankfully they all grow back.

So, what can Matt Murdock really compete with?  He pretended to be his own twin brother.  He developed amnesia at one point and lived a different life.  That’s pretty weird.  He also faked his own death and offered up a dead body just to mess with his friends (and enemies). His college girlfriend died and was then resurrected twice, kind of.  And, of course, he was just possessed by a demon and forced to sit about and brood.  Still, none of that is that weird for a superhero.  His principal enemies use things like fists and swords instead of crazy stuff like lasers and magic.  Really, I think Matt Murdock should be thankful he’s getting off so easily.  Some folks have it much, much worse.

Who did I miss?  Who has had a really, really weird superhero life?

11 comments

  1. I’ve always thought that of all the superheroes, the one whose life has always been the most miserable is Bruce Banner/Hulk. He’s had it even worse than Matt Murdock’s.

  2. I know this is written in the spirit of fun, but he’s had at least two lovers murdered by the same man (and although one is resurrected that was long after he actually had to deal with her bleeding out on his doorstep,) had his wife driven insane by another, he’s been driven insane himself several times (clones are kind of bad, ruining your entire personal and professional life is worse) and has consistently the worst superhero support ever; spider-man is his go-to guy but their relationship has been magiced so DD doesn’t even know spidey’s secret identity and Luke Cage is kind of his friend, but also never misses an opportunity to call him an asshole (yes it’s a macho sign of respect, but it’s still being called an asshole.) He spent a while believing his best friend had died because of him and, after being mutant-power seduced by a psychopathic she creature, the love of his life disappears to become a heroin addict, HIV positive porn star who gets murdered during yet another attempt to drive him insane. Not only that but his two major villains are an INCREDIBLY skilled mob boss / businessman (coming back from nothing is impressive, Kingpin does it twice a year just to avoid paying bonuses to his legit staff) who never stays down and the man who keeps killing his girlfriend (a psychopath who’s actually spent longer on the roster of ‘The World’s Mightiest Heroes’ than DD himself.) When Spider-man has to live in a world where the only reminder of Gwen Stacey is occasionally finding old porn movies starring the love of his life at her most heroin-crazed (as Matt is actually shown doing: it even has a DEVIL THEME) he gets to wear the sad hat.

  3. @Mr Happy: I didn’t claim Matt’s life is all peaches and cream, but that his challenges are pretty standard superhero fare. His archenemy is an evil businessman (who was Spider-Man’s villain first anyway). Even I have tangled with evil businessmen and I’m not much of a superhero.

    I did forget to mention that Matt had his mind/body switched with the leader of an Eastern European country who is encased entirely in a magical-scientific robotic suit. That is weird.

  4. Ahhh come on, we’d all love to be Doom for a bit.

    I agree that his hardships are mostly non-supernatural (Mephisto seems specifically pissed off at him but I suppose I’d be annoyed if there was a guy running around in a me-suit) but surely that just makes them harder to deal with in the hero community.

    Cap: “Yeah, stupid Red Skull is running around in my clone body.”
    Thor: “Well Ragnarok’s coming up, so I’ll be out of circulation for a month or so.”
    DD: “Oh I hear you, Bullseye stabbed my girlfriend to death.”
    Thor: “Ugh, man, come on. Bringing the mood down.”
    Cap: “Did she at least not die in your arms this time?”
    DD: “Ah, no. No, it was an arms death again.”
    Cap: “You know what, I’m just going to pay for a psychiatrist right now. Here, seriously, take the money.”
    DD: “Okay, back in a year.”
    Luke Cage: “Asshole.”

    No, I agree that Matt’s problems are more grounded than other heroes’ but I genuinely think he has it worse off than 99% of them, and astronomically moreso than Spidey. There’s a reason DD has the closest relationship with the Punisher, and even then Frank has only suffered one (admittedly incredibly severe)loss. Matt’s been losing people in a steady stream since he was born, and his heightened senses make him much more involved in the deaths than any other hero. Evil businessmen may be human, but Kingpin usually does more damage when he’s around than supernatural villains. In one outing he had Matt disbarred and took away his home, business, relationship and friendships. After being driven into madness (and this process took a long time, which is another feature of DD’s life: Spidey’s hardships are measured in weeks DD’s are measured in years) DD was pursued through the (part of the) city he loves by a psychotic soldier firing explosives everywhere.

    Although Matt’s problems aren’t usually supernatural I genuinely feel that that tends to make them worse, and harder to get over. I can’t think of any heroes who’ve had it as bad as Matt (and again, when you stack DD’s losses against Spidey’s the complaining gets less cute for a couple of days.)

    @Franceso: Although having said that, Banner is pretty high on the list. Killed his father by accident (or as recent stories have suggested BY MATHS,) about as bad at hanging on to loved ones as Matt is and (again, according to the ‘Hulk does maths’ theory that Amadeus Cho started) arguably the most misunderstood and unreasonably reviled of the heroes. Then there’s the ‘son who hates him’ thing which is pretty much the one area Matt’s escaped a kicking from (until the story that reveals Karen was pregnant when she died.) Here, though, the supernature of the problems makes them less hardhitting. Karen got stabbed in a church by a guy DD already feels responsible for, destroying his life and shaking his faith pretty badly (Spidey gets God showing up with all the people he’s saved when he’s sad, that’s how much better off he is.) Hulk’s fiance (I forget what Betty was to him at the time) got turned into glass and he spreads the reaction over five personalities, most of whom get to hit things over and over to relieve it. When DD needs to bust some heads Luke Cage sprints over to tell him off.

  5. Put more succinctly: Yeah, I agree DD has less superproblems, but I think he’s still the hero with the worst laundry list of defeats. Specifically I think it’s incredibly hard being Daredevil (or it would be, if anyone actually had to be.)

  6. I would say pretty much every “superhero” has a really horrible and tragic life when you lay out all the things that have happened to them. Daredevil just comes across more tragic to many fans because his book has focused on the tragedy and how it drives and affects the character more so than most other characters. Sure Spidey has had a terrible life but his tragedies are diluted by the numerous stories he appears in that don’t focus on something like Gwen Stacy’s death whereas you have Karen’s death hanging like a shadow over every major Daredevil story for decade.

  7. Good point, but when you measure Spidey’s good days by issue and DD’s good days by writer it still seems like he has a worse time of it.

  8. The difference between Peter and Matt is the Loveable Loser image that Marvel wants for Peter.

    Peter has had his fair share of horrible tragedies, but his outlook beyond those tragedies is more optimistic. That is, Peter will rebound from whatever happened. Life may give him a hard shake but he will overcome it.

    The same can’t be said for Matt. Tragedy after tragedy, Matt kept getting bleaker, darker, and morose. He couldn’t or wouldn’t rebound from them in a similar way as Peter does.

    Thus, while other heroes may have had as bad or worse luck, Matt’s tragedies defined him and that is the perception that sticks with the character.

  9. Where is that Ms. Marvel excerpt from? Looks awesome.

  10. @MC Nedelsk – The image above is from THE PULSE #13 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, featuring the birth of Jessica Jones’ and Luke Cage’s daughter. The Ms. Marvel storyline referenced appeared in AVENGERS #200.

  11. If think Colossus would count in this list. His entire family have died on him and both his sister and his brother has turned crazy at times as well. His space girlfriend in Secret War died to. And now he’s possesed by a destruction god. Oh and he died to as well, only to be tortured and experimented on for a couple of years.

    But Nightcrawler had it worse. He actually banged his sister and killed his brother. That some classic litterature stuff!

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