Daredevil #1

April, 1964

WITH SPIDER-MAN’S SUCCESS, MARVEL wanted Stan Lee to create another superhero in the same style as everyone’s favorite wallcrawler. They got what they wanted at first, but it’s unlikely that anyone at that time expected him to take on a life of his own and basically change the course of comic-book history.

But that’s what happens when you deal with the devil.

In the beginning, there were more than a few similarities between Daredevil and Spider-Man. Daredevil lived in New York City, swung from the rooftops, and fought criminals with both a quick fist and snappy repartee. What set him apart, though, was that he was also blind. Blind heroes had been done before — DC’s Dr. Mid-Nite fought crime in the 1940s (though blind, his unique power allowed him to see perfectly in the dark) — but Daredevil was the first major superhero with a physical handicap.

He wasn’t born blind, though. At an early age, young Matt Murdock saw an old blind man walking in front of a truck. He saved the man, but the truck’s radioactive cargo broke free of its restraints, and Matt’s eyes were scarred by the toxic waste. While he was recuperating, he discovered that his other senses were heightened to a superhuman level — he could hear a person’s heartbeat from across the room, and he could read a newspaper just by feeling the ink impressions on the page. He also developed a “radar sense” that functioned better than his own sight. Armed with his superhuman senses and athletic training, Murdock later brought his father’s murderer to justice and embarked on a new career as a costumed vigilante.

From the beginning, Daredevil personified better than anyone else the divided nature of the costumed superhero. By day, he was a lawyer, working hard to ensure his client’s right to a fair trial; by night, he was a masked vigilante working outside the law to fight for justice. Matt’s father was a boxer who wanted his son to rely on his brains, not his fists, and young Matt was forbidden to learn how to fight. But the honors student couldn’t resist, and so he trained in secret against his father’s wishes. As the series unfolded, readers learned that Matt was also a religious man, and yet he chose the devil as his symbol while he fought on the side of angels.

Daredevil has grown a lot since his first carefree adventures, especially after writer/artist Frank Miller burst onto the scene with his dark and moody interpretation of the hero. But two things that have never changed are his devotion to justice and his courage to take what others would call a handicap and turn it to his own advantage.

From The 100 Greatest Comics of the 20th Century By Mitchell Brown


Did you know…

Stan Lee once said he was partly inspired by mystery novels he had once read about a blind detective named Duncan Maclain.

Bill Everett, the artist who first drew the Sub-Mariner in the 1940s, drew the first issue of Daredevil, but he took so long to do it, he cost Marvel thousands of dollars in late printing fees, and he wasn’t invited back to draw the second issue.

Daredevil originally fought crime in a yellow, red, and black costume; artist Wally Wood created the familiar red costume in issue #7. Daredevil also used a spiked armored costume for a very brief time in the 1990s.