Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen, goes by another name at night…
DAREDEVIL was created by Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett in Marvel’s Daredevil #1 (1964). The blind vigilante, first gained his extraordinary senses in the same accident that robbed him of his sight, when he (ironically) saved a blind man from a speeding truck, carrying radioactive waste, naturally, which splashed into his eyes. Although he lost his ability to see, young Matt Murdock soon realized his other four senses were so enhanced that he could navigate his environment with sonar.
Soon after, Matt’s father, the famous boxer, ‘Battlin’ Jack’ Murdock, was murdered by The Fixer, for not throwing a fight. In his grief, Matt created a costume from his father’s boxing robes and pursued The Fixer. Upon confronting his father’s killer, The Fixer suffered a heart attack. Matt realized that The Fixer was just a symptom of a greater problem at work in his neighborhood. After becoming a lawyer and starting a law firm with his friend Foggy Nelson, Matt continued his pursuit of justice in his nightly crusade as ‘The Man Without Fear’. Using his super human senses, Matt donned the guise of Daredevil to take on the criminal underworld.
Although Daredevil’s costume was initially yellow and black, he soon traded it in for a more demonic persona with his iconic red and black get-up in an effort to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, armed with a custom-made cane that morphs into a billy club that can also act as a nunchaku-like weapon and grappling hook.
Trained by the blind martial arts master, Stick, Daredevil has had many allies, enemies and lovers over the years. Frequently teaming up with other New York-based, street-level heroes like Spider-man, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Iron Fist, Black Cat, and his (on again, off again) frenemy, The Punisher (first appearing in Amazing Spider-man #129), Daredevil typically stays within his community, focused on cleaning up its streets rather than facing off against cosmic entities in alternate dimensions.
Foes like the infamous assassin Bulls-Eye, Typhoid Mary, Mr. Fear, Purple Man (lol), The Owl, and a legion of Hand ninjas are consistently a thorn in Murdock’s side, but none compare to the terrifying might of The Kingpin himself, Wilson Fisk.
Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime (first appearing in The Amazing Spider-man #50) is a behemoth of a man, who also happens to be the most powerful and feared crime lord in the Marvel universe. Operating out of Hell’s Kitchen, Kingpin is a force to be reckoned with. He may seem like a fat, rich, white, bald dude, but his imposing size and deceptive physical strength are only matched by his army of thugs. Fisk often works from the shadows, bribing and scheming his way around the system. He’s often seen with his trademark diamond cane, which seconds as a deadly weapon, when a more personal touch is required.
The thing about The Kingpin that really gets under Daredevil’s skin is the fact that he’s a normal man that for various reasons and loopholes can’t be touched by the law. Even as a lawyer in his day job, Matt Murdock can’t seem to find the evidence to put this scumbag behind bars. What’s worse is Wilson Fisk managed to uncover Daredevil’s identity, which he constantly holds over his head, threatening his loved ones at every turn.
Throughout his crusade on crime, Matt has had numerous love interests, from Black Widow to Echo (a deaf, Native American heroine) most of which have ended rather tragically. These star-crossed flings include: Heather Glenn, an alcoholic who committed suicide, Milla Donovan, a blind woman who was drugged by Mr. Fear, Glorianna O’Breen, an Irish chick who was thrown out a high-rise window, and then there’s Karen Page who became a heroin-addicted prostitute, later cleaning up only to discover she was HIV positive and then was unceremoniously murdered by Bullseye who was hired by Mysterio, the former Spider-man villain who set out to screw with Daredevil’s life (see Kevin Smith’s “Guardian Devil”).
But perhaps Murdock’s most famous (tragic) love affair came about in 1981’s Daredevil #168 (by Frank Miller) with the introduction of ELEKTRA. Matt first met Elektra Natchios back in college at Columbia University, where they dated for a year. Elektra’s father was gunned down by terrorists, leading her to vow revenge. She dropped out of college to travel abroad, eventually training in China with The Hand and becoming a red-clad assassin, armed with two deadly sais.
The two lovers were reunited under less than ideal circumstances when Elektra returned to New York, under the hire of The Kingpin. She faced off against his alter ego, while he was defending investigative reporter, Ben Urich of the Daily Bugle. The two soon joined forces, but their team-up was cut short by The Kingpin who puts a bounty on her. Ultimately, Bullseye fatally stabbed her through the chest. (Daredevil issue #181)
This of course didn’t stop Elektra from coming back to comics years later, eventually teaming up with Wolverine and having a few solo adventures in her own title here and there, but the wounds between them never healed.
Matt Murdock’s been through a lot since then. In Brian Michael Bendis’s run on the series, as told from Ben Urich’s point of view through the art of Alex Maleev. Daredevil’s secret identity was revealed to the public, further complicating his already convoluted life. A lot of other crazy things went down: Daredevil nearly beat Kingpin to death and carved a bulls eye into Bullseye’s forehead.
He’s since faced off against Lady Bullseye, became the new Kingpin of Crime, and was even temporarily possessed by a demon during Shadowland following the Dark Reign in which Hell’s Kitchen was destroyed.
More recently, the brilliant Mark Waid took on the series, pitting Matt against larger than life super villains like The Mole Man, taking him out of the crime-ridden alleyways of Hell’s Kitchen and shifting away from the dark and gritty crime noir stories that made the series so popular, but injecting new life (and more importantly hope) into the character. In the current series, Daredevil is the defender of sunny San Francisco, California.
The new “Daredevil” series hits Netflix Friday, April 10th and it looks to be a must-see!
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