BEN AFFLECK BEN AFFLECK BEN AFFLECK. Are we good? Have we gotten that out of our systems now? Whenever I mention that I read comic books, a lot of people think that they can quickly and succinctly connect with me on some arbitrary level by asking a generic question like, “So what are your favorite comic books?” Rather than going on any sort of diatribe about how stupid it is to immediately ask someone what their favorite anything is, I’ll toss out a few things. If I don’t think they’ll know what I mean when I mention Preacher or Y: The Last Man, I’ll toss out characters like Green Arrow, Captain America, and Daredevil. Considering the most famous piece of pop culture involving Daredevil was the shitty 2003 movie, which you can read a review for here, I try not to get TOO angry with people who automatically bring it up. That generally fails, so I end up angrily launching into why I love the character so much.
Art by Frank Miller
I’m no Daredevil expert. In fact, I’m no expert on anything, other than maybe writing mediocre articles on the internet. I’m killing it in that department. I don’t really remember the first time I read something related to Daredevil, but I sure as shit remember the moment that made me want to read as much about the guy as I could. It was 2006 and my friend Mark was telling me to read Civil War, the Marvel comics event that pitted superhero against superhero in a controversy over a law that required all superheros to go public with their civilian identity. When Daredevil was arrested in issue 5 and taken to prison in the Negative Zone, it was reported that he went quietly. When he saw Tony Stark, he opened his mouth to show he had a piece of silver in there, and said, “Guess that’s thirty-one pieces of silver you’ve got now, huh?” FUCK YEAH. Granted, I later learned that technically it was Danny Rand who was arrested because Matt Murdock was in jail at the time, but still, that moment made me want to read up on how much of a dickhead this blind redhead was.
Art by Steve McNiven, written by Mark Millar
Despite reading, enjoying, and respecting Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil in the early 80’s, it wasn’t until Daredevil’s return under the Marvel Knights label in the late 90’s that I really connected with the character. That run started with Kevin Smith, followed by David Mack, and then a long run by Brian Michael Bendis. It wasn’t specifically Bendis’s writing that sold me on the character, which I enjoyed, but it was through the partnership with artist Alex Maleev that really made me connect with the character. All of the colors were muted, everything seemed like it had a rough edge to it, and there were shadows everywhere. This image of Daredevil is what showed me he was the guardian that Hell’s Kitchen deserved and organized crime grew to fear. I thoroughly enjoyed Ed Brubaker’s run as the writer on Daredevil, because that guy really knows how to write pulpy, noir-ish crime stories. There were a few years where I wasn’t as into the creative teams on Daredevil, but the character came back really strong with writer Mark Waid and artist Paolo Rivera, which took the character from the gritty streets of New York and made him more of a swashbuckler. Still, what is it that’s so appealing about a blind lawyer that’s a C-list hero at best?
Daredevil’s origins trace back to being a kid and admiring his father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, a washed up prize fighter. While saving an elderly blind man from oncoming traffic, Matt Murdock is blinded by a radioactive substance, thus heightening his other four sense to superhuman abilities. Although these abilities alone don’t really make for being a superhero, his extensive martial arts training and his desire to serve his own brand of street justice is what makes him such a vigilante. The heightened sense come in handy when it’s time to investigate crimes, essentially making him Batman but without the need for gadgets. Okay, so he’s Batman but in a red suit, but what makes him so special?
Art by Paolo Rivera
Despite having obvious limitations in both his life as a superhero and his regular civilian life, neither Matt Murdock nor Daredevil give zero fucks about what he should/shouldn’t do. He got the reputation for being a risk taker when he was kid, and was called “daredevil” by other kids who couldn’t understand why a blind kid would act the way he did. This moniker stayed with him into his crimefighting career, but even the title of his own series technically includes the phrase “The Man Without Fear!”. With complete disregard for the outcome of his actions, Daredevil always leaps before he looks when it comes to taking the actions he feels are the right ones to take. This can be considered incredibly dumb to most people, but it’s a trait I admire. Even though I don’t fight crime (or at least, not to your knowledge do I fight crime), I aspire to never let fear control my actions. Let’s be honest, I’m a white dude (spoiler alert) so there aren’t really many things I actually need to fear, but in a culture where people are so concerned with what others will think of them, sometimes it’s hard to make decisions and or say things that other people might judge them for. Yes, this does also mean I’ll get a tattoo with the word “motherfucking” in it without thinking about whether or not I’ll like it when I’m old or maybe I’ll get pizza more nights a week than I should without thinking about how I’ll be a fat fucking monster when I’m older, but I don’t want to sacrifice guaranteed enjoyment in the present for a theoretical regret in an uncertain future. Maybe it’s a little morbid to think about, but I could die before I finish this post. Hopefully I don’t, although I’m sure you’d all appreciate a shorter article, but living your life in fear of all sorts of possible outcomes of your decisions or your actions is no way anyone should live your life. We get one shot at this thing, so worrying over every decision you make out of fear of the results of that decision is something I’d rather not waste my time doing. I might not be a man without fear, but I like to think I’m a dude without worry. Is that a comic book yet? It should be.
More art by Alex Maleev, because holy shit
Sure okay, he’s a “Man Without Fear”, but you know who could defeat Daredevil? A SHIT TON OF BAD GUYS. Could you imagine Daredevil fighting, I don’t know, GALACTUS?! Okay, I guess Galactus could defeat most people, but Daredevil has quite the limited skill set. With that being said, he knows his limitations. What important to him is that the people in his community, the residents of Hell’s Kitchen, don’t need to be worried about getting mugged or raped or eaten by Galactus. Knowing one’s own limitations and knowing what’s most important to you are other attributes I really aspire to. I don’t spend my life comparing myself to people who are more talented than I am or smarter or funnier or more handsome (shit, that’s basically everyone) than I am, I just do the best that I can do. I might not accomplish as much as other people, but as long as I’m doing my best, that’s all I care about. I don’t need lots of friends or fans or well-wishers, I’m pretty much set with the people who I hold close to me know. If I’m doing right by them, that’s all I care about. If I can do everything I can to make sure they’re taken care of, I’m content. Happy? No, let’s not get crazy, I just said content.
HAHAHA OKAY BEN’S LOOKING PRETTY GREAT HERE
One of the great, if not greatest, things about the Marvel Universe is the vast array of characters from all different walks of life with different backgrounds and different stories. If you don’t connect with one character, try another. I understand that a blind guy in a red suit with horns on his head might not be everyone’s cup of tea, maybe you don’t aspire to lead your life without fear, maybe you don’t have a close community of people important to you, so it’s entirely possibly that Matt Murdock still doesn’t appeal to you. And sure, he’s also a TERRIBLE boyfriend. He’s like, the worst Don’t go getting a crush on him, because you might end up a prostitute junky, in a mental institution, or straight up dead. There was a recent announcement that Daredevil is going to get a 13 episode series on Netflix, so I recommend getting in on the ground floor now. Hopefully you can approach this character under a new light, you’ll give a shot at reading more about a guy constantly seeking justice with a blatant disregard for his own well-being. If nothing else, just please stop only thinking that Daredevil can be summed up by saying “Ben Affleck”.