My wife and I just finished watching the second episode of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. Yay Netflix!
I’ll probably write something more in-depth and specific to the new series later on (after I’ve seen it all,) but I wanted to talk a little bit now about the handicapable hero.
The Backstory (in this case, mine…)
Growing up, I was more of a DC reader; Batman was my favorite. But I’d occasionally pick up an issue from Marvel, typically an issue of Spider-man or Daredevil.
Daredevil stories had a similar feel to some of my favorite Batman narratives: both heroes were relatively under-powered compared to the other super-powered heroes of their respective universes (as were their villains.)
Often their stories would have a noir-ish feel. Batman was a great detective, so there was often the plot element of him matching wits with a diabolical foe. Daredevil was motivated to pursue justice on behalf of the clients of his struggling law practice. As an attorney who only represented innocent clients (and he’d know, oh he’d know) one way to obtain an innocent verdict from a jury would be to discover the real culprit.
Look, I’m not trying to make this into a big Daredevil-Batman compare-and-contrast piece. I just want to say that liking one property kind of predisposed me to like the other.
Random Daredevil facts
- Daredevil used to date Black Widow!
I was reading Daredevil before Frank Miller took over the book, so Natasha Romanov is the dangerous woman I associate as Matt Murdock’s love interest, but because of Miller’s influential work, the assassin Elektra is probably the most likely answer anyone else would give.
I’m not complaining. Miller’s work with Daredevil included amazing characters, like Stick, Stone, Shaft (et al, I forget all of the characters who were part of the Chaste) and the mystical ninja group, the Hand (more on them in a moment.)
(Sadly, I doubt that Scarlett Johansson will be appearing in the new series.)
- Daredevil’s influence in Black and White Indy Comics
I’m a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, I’m super old but that’s my point. Although I’ve seen the movies (my daughter wanted me to take her to the most recent Michael Bay produced one) and I’ve seen some of the cartoons, my experience is from the original black and white comics. Although the turtles would have adventures against mutants and aliens, my favorite storylines were always against the ninja clan, the Foot.
The Foot was clearly a reference to the Hand from Daredevil’s comics, and the similarity didn’t end there. The turtles’ mutation from normal reptiles into anthropomorphic beings was caused by exposure to toxic goo. Observe:
The above panel is a story that the turtles’ ninja master (a mutated rat named Splinter) is telling them, describing the source of the mutation that caused them to grow and develop intelligence. But it’s also showing Daredevil’s origin, when young sighted Matt Murdock was blinded due to an accident involving a cannister of toxic waste. Toxic waste which went on to mutate the turtles.
To be fair, Splinter does not name the young man, and the turtle comics aren’t part of the Marvel Universe, but the homage to Daredevil’s origin was intentional. Splinter’s name is a likely homage to Matt Murdock’s mentor Stick.
The TMNT comic adventures were often light hearted (which made them easy to adapt as cartoons for young audience members) but on occasion, a dark and brutal storyline featuring the Foot ninja would be presented. These were grim moments, as the turtles would face an endless number of implacable foes: classic ninja clan vs. ninja clan warfare (with one of the clans just happening to be four highly skilled turtles who were below legal drinking age.)
These story-arcs were reminiscent of Daredevil teaming with the Chaste, opposing the Hand. All good stuff.
On a more lighter side, but still in the realm of black and white independent comics (that also went on to find cartoon success) was the Tick.
The Tick does not immediately spring forth as a Daredevil homage (unless Daredevil really worked out and had antenna as part of his costume instead of horns) but in his premiere issue, he was fighting ninja. Lots of ninja. Look, the issue was called Night of a Million Zillion Ninja.
The ninja, as it turns out, where trying to capture a former member, a young woman named Oedipus.
Who happened to dress like Elektra from Daredevil.
Again, I’m not trying to say that the Tick is ripping off Daredevil. In many ways the Tick was a humorous parody of the superhero-genre. One needs only consider the two versions of Batman featured in the cartoon (Die Fledermaus Man) or the live-action television show (Bat-Manuel) to recognize that.
It’s just cool to see a comic property be so influential among independent comics.
(I’ll wrap this up, as this is getting long.)
Thanks to Miller and his influence on Daredevil, the comic developed into a street-level martial arts epic, where Matt Murdock was extensively trained in fighting arts beyond his boxing beginnings. From the start, Daredevil had adapted the cane he used as Matt Murdock to facilitate his appearance as a blind man, and Murdock’s training with the martial arts master Stick capitalized on that.
I’m a fan of martial arts styles, and Filipino stick-fighting (alternatively called Kali, Escrima, or Arnis (or variations of those) is an art with which I have some meager familiarity. Daredevil’s use of single and double stick batons in combat is something that I’m drawn to and appreciate.
As mentioned before, I’m only into the new Netflix series by a few episodes, but I’m looking forward to see the fight that this image must be preceding:
Daredevil, staring Stardust and Boardwalk Empire‘s Charlie Cox, is currently available (all thirteen episodes) on Netflix. I’m enjoying the cast (I’ll talk about them in a later post), the pacing (some might call it slow, I’ll call *them* slow), and particularly the action.
Images from Marvel’s Daredevil (both television and the comics), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, The Tick #1. That excellent pic of Daredevil surrounded vertically by the Hand is credited to Christiano Flexa. Silhouette shot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is from the Michael Bay movie promotional materials.
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved