Daredevil (Matthew Murdock) is a fictional character, a superhero in the Marvel Comics Universe. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett in Daredevil vol. 1, #1 (April 1964), he is notable as being among the few superheroes with a disability. Blinded during his youth, his other four senses developed to compensate, and he obtained a sonar-like ability to perceive objects.
Although Daredevil had been home to the work of many legendary comic-book artists - Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, John Romita, Sr., and Gene Colan, among others - it was not until Frank Miller's entrance on the title in the late 1970s that Daredevil was regarded as either popular or influential. The introduction of drastic change, following Miller's example, became the title's hallmark; as writer Brian Michael Bendis described, "This is the book where the audience is built into expecting something unique. Every run on Daredevil has been a unique statement from that person and a lot of chances were taken."
Volume 1: 1964 - 1998
Daredevil's original costume as created by Everett - with input from Kirby - was a combination of black, yellow and red, and went through minor revisions in issues #2 through #4 by EC Comics artist Joe Orlando. Fellow acclaimed EC veteran Wally Wood penciled #5-8, introducing the modern red costume in issue #7. Golden Age great Bob Powell (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle) penciled two issues over Wood layouts, and they then swapped for #11, which Wood inked over Powell's pencils.
Issue #12 began a brief run by Jack Kirby (layouts) and John Romita, Sr. It was Romita's return to superhero penciling after a decade of working exclusively as a romance-comic artist for DC. Romita had felt he no longer wanted to pencil, in favor of being solely an inker.
When Romita left to take over Amazing Spider-Man, Lee gave Daredevil to the character's first signature artist, Gene Colan, who began with issue #20 (Sept. 1966). Colan pencilled all but three issues through #100 (June 1973), plus the 1967 annual, followed by ten issues sprinkled from 1974-79. (He would return again, an established legend, for an eight-issue run in 1997). Among the notable plot developments during this period were Matt Murdock's panicky creation of a "twin brother", the "sighted" and devil-may-care Mike Murdock, in #25 (Feb. 1967), whom Karen Page and Foggy Nelson are led to believe is Daredevil; "Mike's" death in #41 (June 1968); and Matt revealing his Daredevil identity to Karen Page in #57 (Oct. 1969).
Much like in The Amazing Spider-Man - and in what was already an established hallmark of Marvel Comics storytelling - interpersonal drama was as central to the series as action and adventure. A triangle of unrequited love develops between Foggy Nelson, Karen Page and Murdock, with Nelson unable to win over Page and Matt unable to admit that Page loves anyone other than Daredevil. When the revelation of Murdock's dual identity proves too much for Page, she leaves the firm and the comic.
In the 1970s the title featured a double billing, co-starring Daredevil's girlfriend, the Black Widow. During this time, the series' writers included Gerry Conway, Steve Gerber and Chris Claremont. Artists included Bob Brown and Don Heck.
Daredevil vol. 1, #181 (April 1982). Cover art by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson.The modern definition of Daredevil began in 1979 with Frank Miller's entrance on the title. Miller's first contributions were as an artist, where he imbued a new dynamism and a drastically different visual style. The series' tone became that of noir with Hell's Kitchen itself playing a more prominent role.
With issue #168, Miller additionally became the series' writer, and the comic underwent a drastic metamorphosis. The most significant change was the introduction of Spider-Man villain Kingpin as Daredevil's new archnemesis. Until that point, Daredevil's enemies were primarily, though not exclusively, costumed villains. The Kingpin was a departure in that although he possessed extraordinary size, strength and fighting ability, his villainy came from his ruthless brilliance in running a criminal empire, rather than superPowers. The title still retained costumed antagonists - notably Bullseye and Elektra - but found its central theme to be one more grounded in reality: organized crime.
Miller also introduced ninjas into the Daredevil canon, bringing a greater focus on the martial arts aspect of Daredevil's fighting skills, and introducing the characters Stick and the Hand. This was a drastic change to a character once considered a swashbuckler. The focus of a ninja's control of the inner self served as a counterbalance to the emerging themes of anger and torment.
Comics-artist legend Wally Wood, following kidney failure and the loss of vision in one eye, returned to the character he helped define, inking Miller's cover of Daredevil Vol. 1, #164 (May 1980). It was one of Wood's final assignments before his death in 1981.
Miller's noir take on the character continued, even after he left (in 1983, after issue #191). However, successor Denny O'Neil did not find the commercial success of his predecessor. In late 1985, Miller returned to the series, co-writing #226 with O'Neil, then writing the acclaimed "Daredevil: Born Again" storyline in #227-233 (Feb.-Aug. 1986), with artist David Mazzuchelli.
A round-Robin of creators contributed in the year that followed Born Again: writers Mark Gruenwald, Danny Fingeroth, Steve Englehart (under the pseudonym "John Harkness") and Ann Nocenti, and pencilers Steve Ditko, Barry Windsor-Smith, Louis Williams, Sal Buscema, Todd McFarlane, Keith Pollard,and Chuck Patton. Longshot co-creator Nocenti, who'd written #236, became the regular writer for a four-and-a-quarter year run of all but two issues from #238-291 (Jan. 1987 - April 1991). John Romita, Jr. joined as penciler from #250-282 (Jan. 1988 - Jul. 1990), and was generally inked by Al Williamson. The team specifically addressed societal issues, with Murdock, now running a non-profit urban legal center, confronting sexism, racism and nuclear proliferation while fighting supervillains. Nocenti introduced the popular antagonist Typhoid Mary in issue #254.
Under writers Karl Kesel and later Joe Kelly, the book gained a lighter tone, with Daredevil returning to the lighthearted, wisecracking hero depicted by earlier writers. Matt and Foggy (who now knows of Matt's dual identities) join a law firm run by Foggy's mother, Rosalind Sharpe.
Volume 2: 1998 - Present
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The death of Karen Page. Promotional art for Daredevil Visionaries: Kevin Smith by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti.In 1998, Daredevil's numbering was rebooted, with the title "cancelled" and revived a month later as part of the Marvel Knights imprint. Joe Quesada drew the new series, written by filmmaker Kevin Smith. Its first eight-issue story arc, "Guardian Devil" depicts Daredevil struggling to protect a child whom he is told could either be the Messiah or the Anti-Christ. Murdock experiences a crisis of faith exacerbated by the discovery that Karen Page has AIDS (later revealed to be a hoax), and her subsequent death at Bullseye's hands.
After "Guardian Devil", Smith was succeeded by writer-artist David Mack, who contributed the seven-issue "Parts of a Hole" (#9-15). This arc introduces Maya Lopez, also known as Echo, a deaf martial artist. Mack brought indie-comic colleague Brian Michael Bendis to Marvel for the following arc, "Wake Up" (#16-19, which follows reporter Ben Urich as he investigates the aftereffects of a fight between Daredevil and an obscure old villain called Leapfrog.
Following Mack and Bendis were Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale and artists Phil Winslade and David Ross for the story "Playing to the Camera" ( Mack continued to contribute covers ).
Issue #26 (Dec. 2001) brought back Brian Michael Bendis, working this time with artist Alex Maleev, for a four-year-run that became one of the series' most acclaimed. Maleev's harsh and grainy look is in contrast to Quesada's more cartoony lines, and distinctively reads like a marriage of Frank Miller's film noir style and the pulp-magazine art of the 1920s and '30s.
Developments in this run included the introduction of Milla Donovan, the outing of Murdock's secret identity to the press, the reemergence of the Kingpin, and Daredevil's surrender to the FBI.
Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark became the new creative team with Daredevil #82 (Feb. 2006), no longer under the Marvel Knights imprint.
Irish-American Matthew Murdock is raised by single father and fading boxer "Battling Jack" Murdock in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Jack instills in Matt the importance of education and non-violence with the aim of seeing his son become a better man than himself. Though Jack's intentions are noble, Matt is left unprepared to handle the bullying he received at school, and is branded with the sarcastic nickname, "Daredevil". Matt vents his frustration and anger by training in secret.
In the course of saving a blind man from the path of an oncoming truck, Matt is blinded by a radioactive substance that falls from the vehicle. Though the act of heroism robs him of sight, the radioactive exposure heightens his remaining senses beyond normal human thresholds, enabling him to detect the shape and location of objects around him. A mysterious man, Stick, becomes his mentor, and teaches him to control his new abilities while honing his natural aptitude in acrobatics and martial arts. Stick, also blind, teaches Matt how to form a mental Image of the objects around him, and Matt develops a "radar sense" to make up for his sight. Still in school, Matt continues to honor his father's wishes by excelling in his studies, and ultimately enrolls in the Columbia School of Law.
Back in Hell's Kitchen, Jack struggles and becomes an enforcer for small-time crook and boxing manager, the Fixer. In exchange for his services, the Fixer rigs a series of matches and provides "Battling Jack" a late-life boxing renaissance, resulting in the once near-destitute fighter becoming a title contender. On the night of the title fight against "Crusher" Creel, the future Absorbing Man, with his son in the crowd, Jack ignores the Fixer's demands to take a dive and wins by knockout. For his disobedience, the Fixer has him murdered.
In College, Matt meets and falls in love with Elektra Natchios, the daughter of a Greek diplomat. When Elektra and her father are kidnapped by terrorists, Matt dons a mask for the first time and fights to save the two. In the mayhem that follows, Elektra's father is accidentally shot and killed by a SWAT team member. Overcome with grief, Elektra breaks Murdock's heart by leaving America behind and returning to the study of martial arts.
Matt is devastated by the loss of his father and the judicial system's failure to convict the men responsible. Mindful of the childhood promise he made to his father not to lead a violent life, Matt dons a new identity for providing justice. Adorned in a yellow and black costume made from his father's boxing robes, renamed with the moniker of his childhood derision, and using his superhuman abilities, Matt confronts the killers and avenges his father as the superhero Daredevil.
Matt continues his studies and graduates at the top of his class. Together with his best friend and college roommate Franklin "Foggy" Nelson, the two open the law practice of Nelson & Murdock, and hire Karen Page as secretary. Daredevil's early adventures involve Black Widow, a spy/superheroine, Stilt-Man, and Bullseye, who would later come to be Daredevil's archenemy.
Daredevil would eventually move to San Francisco to live with Black Widow. However, the move does not last long: The Widow ends the relationship, fearing that playing "sidekick" to Daredevil was causing her to lose her identity as a solo superheroine, and Murdock returns to Hell's Kitchen. The two remain intimate friends and occasional lovers.
Writer-artist Frank Miller revamped Daredevil into a darker character shortly thereafter. In these more mature adventures, the "man without fear" encounters the Kingpin, who has hired his old flame Elektra (now returned to New York as a ninja mercenary) as an assassin, and Bullseye murders her in a fight to determine the better killer. Taking revenge, Daredevil drops Bullseye from a clothesline high above a street, but he is later given an adamantium spine by a Japanese villain called Lord Darkwind. In a later Miller story called Born Again, Karen Page returns as a heroin-addicted star of adult films, who sells Daredevil's secret identity for a hit. The Kingpin uses this information to destroy Murdock piece by piece: blowing up his house, ruining his reputation as a lawyer, menacing his personal life and nearly driving him insane. Miller ends the story on a positive note, with Murdock reuniting with Karen Page as his sometime lover, and the mother he thought dead, now a nun, and resuming a less complicated life in Hell's Kitchen.
In the story arc "Fall from Grace", Daredevil's secret identity becomes public knowledge. Forced to fake his own death and change his uniform to an armored "razor costume", Murdock undergoes one of his numerous breakdowns. The change does not last, and Daredevil soon returns to his traditional red costume, while Murdock finds a way to convince the world that he is not, in fact, secretly Daredevil
Film director Kevin Smith, known for his comic-book-referencing comedies, takes on the writing chores for a relaunch of Daredevil, under Marvel's new Marvel Knights line, which featured Marvel's grittier heroes. Under Smith's direction, Daredevil encounters Mysterio, a Spider-Man villain who is dying of cancer from overexposure to his primary weapon, a mist. Mysterio orchestrates events so that Daredevil is convinced he is involved in the saving of a reborn baby Jesus, to the point that he hires Bullseye to attack a church, a battle that ends with the death of Karen Page.
Further story developments include a coup against the Kingpin by ambitious mobster Sammy Silke, and the subsequent, violent revenge taken by Vanessa Fisk, the Kingpin's wife. Silke, in exchange for protection, gives Daredevil's identity to the FBI, which makes it public in the Daily Globe. Murdock responds by vigorous denials and a libel lawsuit against the newspaper. While the world ponders whether the respected attorney has made a mockery of the justice system with many past trials involving Daredevil he hires Luke Cage and Jessica Jones to be his bodyguards. In other developments, a client named Hector Ayala, who is another hero named the White Tiger, is shot and killed by police after Murdock loses a manslaughter case in which Ayala was innocent.
Murdock meets and romances the blind Milla Donovan, and battles efforts by the Owl to take Fisk's place as Kingpin by marketing the drug MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone). Daredevil discovers that the Kingpin, thought dead, has recovered from the coup's attempt on his life and after a violent confrontation that sends his nemesis to the hospital declares himself the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen.
Afterward, Bendis and Maleev jumped a year ahead to find an increasingly violent and antisocial Daredevil. He has married and won his case against the Daily Globe, resulting in a multimillion dollar settlement he reinvests into the local community. His reporter friend Ben Urich, who knows Daredevil's identity, tries to convince Murdock that he has suffered a nervous breakdown brought on by unresolved feelings over the death of Karen Page. His wife, in response, annuls the marriage.
Brubaker and Lark
Bendis and Maleev left Daredevil with #81, which was also the last issue published under the Marvel Knights imprint, and were succeeded by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark, inheriting a storyline in which the FBI had placed Matt Murdock in prison. In their first story arc, The Devil In Cell-Block D (#82-87), the imprisoned Murdock was helpless to stop the apparent murder of Foggy Nelson at Ryker's, while a mysterious new Daredevil appears in Hell's Kitchen. Murdock escaped with the Punisher during a prison riot and discovered the ersatz Daredevil was in fact his friend and Hero for Hire Danny Rand, the superhero Iron Fist, who was unwittingly employed by the mysterious figure who had been manipulating Daredevil. Unbeknownst to Daredevil, Foggy is in fact alive and well in the witness protection program.
Daredevil then set out to Europe to trace the figure who had had Foggy killed and employed a fake Daredevil. Much to his surprise, this was the Kingpin's wife Vanessa Fisk, who was dying after she killed her son in the previous pages of Daredevil and wanted revenge on Daredevil, who, along with Kingpin, she blamed for her situation. She offered to solve his secret identity problems once and for all, if Matt would corrupt himself by fighting as a lawyer to free Kingpin from prison. Matt refused, but Vanessa had already set her plan in motion, having the FBI director who imprisoned Daredevil killed, leaving a suicide note saying he had framed Matt. Matt is able to return to his life in New York City, reunited with Foggy and Milla, and has the charges against Kingpin revoked, although he loses his U.S. citizenship and leaves the country. Vanessa dies of her terminal illness.
Powers, abilities and weapons
Daredevil possesses the normal human strength of a man his age, height, and build who engages in intensive regular exercise. Daredevil's four remaining senses are heightened far beyond human levels. Although Murdock is blind, he can "see" by means of his "radar sense", in which Daredevil is able to listen to any sound (even that well below the normal human range of hearing), and use it to "see" a three-dimensional construct of his surroundings. However, unlike sonar, Daredevil does not have to make a sound it order to see, and is able to use the ambient sounds of his surroundings to the same effect. He also possess a superhuman level of kinesthetic awareness, which greatly enhances his fighting skills. He can recognize people he knows by their scent and heartbeat. He can tell the height and weight of a person walking down a hall toward him by the sound of their footsteps. Daredevil is an Olympic level athlete and gymnast, possessing extraordinary agility, endurance, skill and balance. Daredevil's unique fighting style (a blend of ninjitsu, judo and American-style boxing) makes effective use of his Billy Club, which is used as both a baton and grappling hook.
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