Daredevil (Matt Murdock) is an Irish-American Marvel Comics superhero. Created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, he debuted in Daredevil #1 (April 1964). more...
As a child, Matthew Murdock was blinded when an act of heroism put him in the path of radioactive materials. more...
Though no longer able to see, the accident heightened his remaining senses to superhuman levels and imbued in him a sixth, sonar-like sense. A high-profile attorney by day, Murdock uses his abilities as well as his training in acrobatics and martial arts to protect the people of Hell's Kitchen as the pulp hero Daredevil.
Daredevil was not an overly popular or influential Marvel hero until the late 1970s, when writer/illustrator Frank Miller made him a much darker character. Miller's Daredevil was a fierce guardian of inner city New York who danced along the edge of sanity as he attempted to uproot deep corruption and urban decay. The character has enjoyed a modern renaissance since the launch of the Marvel Knights imprint, with notable creators Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.
Matt Murdock grew up in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, the son of Battling Jack Murdock, a fading boxer, single father and occasional hired enforcer. Desperate to have Matt lead a better life than his own, Jack insisted that his son stay out of trouble and receive an education. Though endlessly taunted with the sarcastic nickname "Daredevil" by school bullies, Matt endured his hardships and studied hard, working out in secret as a way to vent his anger.
An act of heroism, however, would change his life completely. An old and blind man crossing the street was in the path of an oncoming and out of control truck hauling radioactive waste. Matt selflessly saved the man but, in doing so, was struck in the face with radioactive material.
A difficult recovery ensued, but the blinded youth soon learned to cope with his disability, and in so doing learned the boons of his radioactive exposure. Namely, his remaining senses had been raised to superhuman sharpness: he could hear any sound regardless of volume or pitch, smell more capably than a bloodhound, taste and identify individual ingredients of prepared foods, and touch so acutely that he could read regular newsprint as if it were braille. The accident also granted him a radar sense, independent of his other senses, which would allow him to detect the positions and general shape of objects around him (similar to echolocation). His mind emits a pulse-like frequency that goes out into the environment and bounces off objects and return to him to give him a "picture" of his surroundings. Frank Miller later added to the origin by revealing that Matt soon met a sensei and pool shark named Stick who took it upon himself to train the boy to control his senses as well as in acrobatics and fighting skills.
Matt did good on his promise to his father, and excelled in his law school studies. However his father struggled back home as a washed up boxer and, to that end, approached the one fight promoter willing to book him, a small time crook nicknamed the Fixer. 'Battling Jack' found a late-life renaissance as the Fixer engineered a series of rigged matches, resulting in the once near-destitute boxer becoming a title contender. On the night of the biggest fight of his life, the Fixer looked to cash in on his investment and instructed Jack to take a dive but Jack, seeing Matt in the crowd, could not disappoint his son. Battling Jack Murdock gave the fight of his life to win by knockout and subsequently gave his life when the Fixer ordered his hit.
Devastated, both by the loss of his father and the judicial system's failure to convict the Fixer, Matt Murdock took it upon himself to provide justice. Mindful of the promise he made to his father not to lead a violent life, Matt created a new identity for himself, fashioning a yellow and black costume from his father's boxing robes and adopting the catch-phrase of his childhood derision, "Daredevil", as his nickname. Daredevil confronted the Fixer's gang, making short work of the lot through the use of his hidden abilities and secret training. The Fixer himself managed to escape to a subway tunnel wherein his own panic and fear of Daredevil produced in him a fatal heart attack.
Together with secretary Karen Page and best pal and partner Franklin "Foggy" Nelson, Murdock became the lawyer he promised his dad he would become. But realizing that the justice system was imperfect, and that he could better serve society and his own personal torment with a dual career in costumed crime fighting, Matt Murdock permanently adopted the mantle of Daredevil.
This character was an undistinguished second stringer character that came off as a Spider-Man knock-off with a similar flair for acrobatics and swinging among the towers of New York City. The title did benefit from noteworthy artists such as comics legend Wally Wood whose short run was not only among the best drawn but also responsible for changing Daredevil's costume to the distinctive red uniform (during a classic bout with the Sub-Mariner in Daredevil #7). In addition, the series enjoyed a long run by artist Gene Colan whose talent helped keep the title vital through much of the 1960s and '70s. Yet sales were rarely strong, and at one point in the early '70s, with the standard format/price in flux, Marvel even announced Daredevil and Iron Man were to be folded into a single title — reversing its decision before ever combining the books.
This changed in 1979 with new artist Frank Miller. His art brought a new dynamism to the comic; his writing even more so. The series' tone became that of noir, where evil seems ever-present, corruption is rife throughout the seats of power. The comic's hero became a tortured man constantly trying to reconcile his principles with the inner rage that proved to be the real reason he chose to become Daredevil.
In #168, Miller's first issue as a writer, an old flame was revealed from Daredevil's past, Elektra Natchios. A college girlfriend at Columbia University and a daughter of a Greek diplomat, she had an amorally wild violent streak that led her to become a deadly ninja assassin, eventually even entering the employ of the Kingpin.
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