Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, is one of my favorite Marvel Comics characters. 2014 is his 50th anniversary, and I didn’t want to let the year go without recognizing ol’ Hornhead (nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?).
While I started my comic book reading with Spider-Man and the Avengers, I quickly became enamored with Daredevil after seeing him in issue #19 of What If…?
In that story, Daredevil plays bodyguard to movie star Peter Parker (after ditching the cape and trident that Parker gave him), and ends up nearly beaten to death. But that appearance was enough to pique my interest in Daredevil, even though I didn’t start buying issues of his titular comic for several years after. Shortly after that What If…? issue, I saw Daredevil in an issue of Ghost Rider, or maybe it was an issue of Daredevil guest-starring Ghost Rider (my memory of this is very fuzzy because I became very sick that night, I think with the flu). Regardless, I wanted to know more about this blind superhero.
Now, you should go listen to the Daredevil episode of the Heroes and Villains podcast that I cohosted and find out more about DD (as his superhero friends like to call him), or you can read on for the abridged version of DD’s origin. When he was a child, Matt Murdock was blinded by some irradiated liquid, but his other senses became superhuman, and he developed what he calls his radar sense that helps him to “see” his surroundings. He also uses a modified cane/billy club as his primary weapon, and is quite the acrobat. When Matt started out as Daredevil, he put together this lovely red and yellow costume:
I actually have quite a fondness for this costume, and secretly hope that Marvel will bring it back. But seven issues into his own series, Wally Wood gave Matt the familiar all-red costume that we love today. One of the things that I love about DD’s costume is that he has no holes in his mask for eyes. I’m sure it’s come up, but I don’t recall reading in my issues anyone bringing that up.
My personal voyage with Daredevil continued with the Daredevil goes to Japan storyline, culminating with issue 200 of the series.
I read these issues thanks to my friend Greg (who has appeared on the podcast a few times: Episode 26 & Episode 55), who was really into martial arts and ninjas at the time. I couldn’t get over how stupid it was to show that cast over DD’s costume–I mean, how did Matt get his glove on in the first place? Oh well, it’s comics! :)
I continued my sporadic reading of Daredevil with issue 208, written by Harlan Ellison, which I thought was really cool at the time (still do, actually). Next was issue 219, written by Frank Miller, coming back to do a one-shot story reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter, but I loved it. However, it was with issue 227, the beginning of the classic “Born Again” storyline, that I started reading and buying Daredevil month after month, until I stopped with issue 284. However, besides the “Born Again” story, nothing really stands out to me during that run of comics, other than Typhoid Mary (which went on too long) and realizing that I didn’t mind John Romita Jr.’s art though I can’t stand it now.
I didn’t get back into Daredevil until the 2000s when I started hearing rumblings about Brian Michael Bendis’ run on the title. I read the first volume, Wake Up, and was hooked. I bought all the trades of that run until the sixth Ed Brubaker volume (Lady Bullseye). I avoided Shadowland, and by all reports, I’m glad I did, but I did pick up the latest volume, written by Mark Waid and initially pencilled by Paolo Rivera, and later by Chris Samnee–this series has been superb from day one.
I look forward to seeing where the various creators to come take Daredevil next, as well as hopefully enjoying the upcoming Netflix series. Happy 50th Ol’ Hornhead!