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DAREDEVIL AT 50

MARVEL’S DAREDEVIL IS 50 THIS YEAR

The blind Daredevil was the last of the first burst of superhero creation at the House of Ideas, and he doesn’t seem to rank very high on the publisher’s chart. In 2002, Marvel produced a commemorative volume, Fantastic Firsts, which reprints DD’s inaugural adventure (including the cover we post down the scroll a tad), but the back cover blurb, listing “the greatest and most popular heroes,” mentions Spider-Man, Thor, Dr. Strange, Namor, the Avengers, the X-Men and the rest but omits our red-togged neighborhood acrobat. Doesn’t mention him. Despite this undeniably evidence of official neglect, Daredevil has been twice produced by comic book geniuses: first Frank Miller injected new life into the character, and then, a couple years ago, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee took off in new and imaginative directions.

For his 50th anniversary, official Marvel, trying to make up for the heretofore seemingly institutional indifference, has produced a special issue, Daredevil No.1.50 (a numbering scheme that baffled me until I figured out it meant the “first fiftieth”).  In it, Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez (writer and artist, the latter now termed “storyteller” by way of acknowledging his collaborative role; Waid employs the same term with Samnee) imagine Matt Murdock at the age of fifty when he’s married and has a son, who has inherited some of DD’s miraculous extra-sensory powers but is bookish (like his mother, the current mayor of San Francisco, where Matt had been mayor before her).

Matt wants his son to be more active, more athletic, but the kid isn’t interested. Matt is disappointed but still supportive. Then one of the west coast baddies, Jubula Pride, shows up and stikes 72% of the city blind. Daredevil fixes that. Then he and his son go for a walk, and as they cross the street, a careening truck almost hits Matt: it would have except for his son, who knocks him out of the way—in a scene that duplicates another such scene that occurred in Daredevil No.1, fifty years ago, when Matt saves another blind man and gets blinded himself.

Note: In the caption below, by "Right" I mean "Left."

Daredevil50

Two other tales complete the issue. The first is mostly text by Brian Michael Bendis (illustrated by Alex Maleev), whose story is told by Matt Murdock’s wife and mother of his son, Stana Morgan, who recounts her meeting with Daredevil and their falling in love (and into bed) immediately. At the end of the story, she intimates that she’s dead.

The concluding tale revisits a time when Matt tried to hide his secret identity by inventing a twin brother named Mike, a somewhat light-hearted championing of fearlessness written and drawn by Karl Kesel. Finally, three pages of letters finishes with a page of epistles from artists and writers who’ve worked on Daredevil through the years (but not, oddly, Frank Miller, whose career was made when he took over the title back in the day).

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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