CCI: Comic Character Investigation #221 juin 2012
[ENGLISH] This month: Daredevil – Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow. . . in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.
Can A Man Be Without Fear?
It is a philosophical question to be sure. One we could ponder in quiet moments which we may have because we probably live lives without danger all around us. But that’s not the life that Matt Murdock knew as a boy or as a man. He did not have the luxury of fear any more when a chemical truck accident blinded him forever as a human being yet made him something more as well. Perhaps in the split second before the accident he still knew what fear was. We cannot be certain. What we can be sure is that fear left him that day and ever since he developed himself, absent of vision, filled with courage and with a special radar sense which enabled him to compensate for his loss of sight, one that could even measure the heartbeats of his enemies. After all he knew they still had it. . . the fear. Good. They would know it even more when he streaked down from some rooftop on his billy club cable, two prominent crossed red “D’s” on his chest and a deep red costume and cowell which would make his enemies dream of devils for a long time to come.
Daredevil was a great creation at Marvel Comics largely because like himself the series lived in the shadows of other more colorful titles like Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. Great series to be sure but the red-garbed crimefighter gave the company a dark side. They needed a character who could go where the others didn’t. The blind attorney who stars in it is ironically at the center of one of the best-envisioned titles because Daredevil is hard to distinguish at times as friend or foe, which is well shown in the movie that portrayed the character when a child sees him beating someone up and Daredevil has to tell the kid and later, himself… “I’m not the bad guy.” When you are dressed like the devil and your kicking people’s asses all over town it is tough to rationalize how good your cause can be.
More than a superhero Daredevil is a pondrous presence who we can relate to because he has a great best friend and business partner in Foggy Nelson and has had his share of love interests not the least of which was Elektra Natchios, the skilled and beautiful assassin who appeared in the series and first and foremost the lovely Karen Page.
The enemies of Daredevil have been unique and as dark as him and have provided their own complications. The Gladiator representing bladed death, The Beetle, severe trouble from the skies and of course Bullseye, a threat from anywhere and with anything in his hands.
Daredevil first appeared in issue #1 of the same name and was created by the talented minds and hands of Stan Lee and Bill Everett (who also created the Submariner). In Daredevil #7 he lost his red-and-yellow duds for the cool streamlined deep red he is quite famous for. In that issue he fights The Submariner and while overpowered he showed what a badass he could be just by trying to go against the demi-god of the seas. Surely his fear had long since taken its leave from him.
Stan Lee had chosen the name because it related images of circus performers. DD’s life is not lived under the Big Top though. Its lived in the shadows of New York, its alleyways and byways, harbors and hidden places, its homes for thieves, organized criminals and villains so bad that only a man without fear could answer them.
Fortunately Daredevil is there to deal with them, a blind man to be sure but also a vision for those lucky enough to spot him in the night, a vision of red and black shadows finding the shadows darker than himself and facing them every time.
So, can a man be without fear? The only definitive answer we have is this: one man can.
James Parducci (www.jparducci.blogspot.com) is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.