Daredevil

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Daredevil is a fictional character, a comic book superhero in the Marvel Universe. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett, with an unspecified amount of input from Jack Kirby,[1] the character first appeared in Daredevil #1 (April 1964).

Background

Daredevil is notable as being among the few superheroes with a disability, being blinded as a youth in a radioactive accident that also drastically heightened his remaining senses and gave him a "radar-sense" allowing him to perceive his surroundings. His public identity is Matt Murdock, a successful attorney-at-law.

Although Daredevil had been home to the work of many legendary comic-book artists — Everett, Kirby, Wally Wood, John Romita, Sr., and Gene Colan|Gene Colan, among others — it is Frank Miller's influential tenure on the title in the late 1970s and early 1980s that is best remembered, cementing the character as a popular and individual part of the Marvel Universe. Daredevil has also been adapted into various other media including a live-action film released in 2003, in which he was portrayed by Ben Affleck.

Publication history

Volume 1: 1964 - 1998

Daredevil's original costume was a combination of black, yellow and red, reminiscent of acrobat tights, 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, completely 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.[2]

When Romita left to take over The 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.

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 arch-nemesis. 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 #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 Dennis 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 penciller 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

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, "Daredevil (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.

Video Review

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Footnotes

  1. Comics historian and former Jack Kirby assistant Mark Evanier, investigating claims of Kirby's involvement in the creation of both Iron Man and Daredevil, interviewed Kirby and Everett on the subject, years before their deaths. In his column P.O.V. Online: The Jack FAQ: "What did Jack do on the first stories of Iron Man and Daredevil?", he concluded that, "in both cases, Jack had already drawn the covers of those issues and done some amount of design work. He ... seems to have participated in the design of Daredevil's first costume. ... Everett did tell me that Jack had come up with the idea of Daredevil's billy club. ... Jack, in effect, drew the first page of that first Daredevil story. In the rush to get that seriously late book to press, there wasn't time to complete Page One, so Stan had [production manager] Sol Brodsky slap together a paste-up that employed Kirby's cover drawing. ... Everett volunteered to me that Jack had "helped him" though he wouldn't — or more likely, couldn't — elaborate on that. He just plain didn't remember it well, and in later years apparently gave others who asked a wide range of answers". Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada later noted in his Newsarama column "Joe Fridays Week 4" (2005, no other date given) that when Everett turned in his first-issue pencils extremely late, Brodsky and Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko inked "a lot of backgrounds and secondary figures on the fly and cobbled the cover and the splash page together from Kirby's original concept drawing".
  2. Romita, from Comic Book Artist #6 (Fall 1999) [1]: "I had inked an Avengers job for Stan, and I told him I just wanted to ink. I felt like I was burned out as a penciller after eight years of romance work. I didn't want to pencil any more; in fact, I couldn't work at home any more — I couldn't discipline myself to do it. He said, 'Okay,' but the first chance he had he shows me this Daredevil story somebody had started and he didn't like it, and he wanted somebody else to do it." Elaborating in Alter Ego #9 (July 2001) [2], he added, "Stan showed me Dick Ayers' splash page for a Daredevil. He asked me, "What would you do with this page?" I showed him on a tracing paper what I would do, and then he asked me to do a drawing of Daredevil the way I would do it. I did a big drawing of Daredevil ... just a big, tracing-paper drawing of Daredevil swinging. And Stan loved it."

References

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