Published January 31, 2019

‘Man Without Fear’: Daredevil in Transition

Charting Daredevil’s life in transformations as he stands on the precipice of yet another.

With MAN WITHOUT FEAR ending and the new volume of DAREDEVIL set to debut on Wednesday, February 6, Matt Murdock once again finds himself staring down a huge transition in his life. Everyone experiences changes as they live and grow, of course, but Murdock has raised it to an artform. He does not merely change a thing here or there about his life – he has his secret identity exposed, goes to prison, fakes his own death, moves his entire life across the country, and becomes possessed by a demon. Ol’ Hornhead does nothing halfway, and that includes life changes.

We have compiled a list of his wildest, most intense, and most surprising evolutions and de-evolutions below to help you prepare for another life turned upside-down in DAREDEVIL #1.

Go West, Young Man

Daredevil and Black Widow

Daredevil’s first time leaving New York City for an extended period featured not one but two big transitions in his life. While many of Marvel’s heroes predominantly live and fight crime in the Big Apple, DD boasts an intimate connection to a specific neighborhood—Hell’s Kitchen—in a way that almost no other hero does. To leave not just the city but that part of the city behind marked a huge change in Hornhead’s life.

The second upheaval involved his travel companion Black Widow. For the first time, the typically solo Man Without Fear had a long-term team-up partner. Moreover, Widow also happened to be his, well, lover. So not only did it prove to be DD’s first time acting as one half of a duo on a long-term basis but it also marked the first time he worked as a hero with a girlfriend.

Miller and the Birth of DD’s Noir Heroics

Frank Miller arrived, first as an artist then writer, and changed Matt Murdock’s life. Miller did it not just by injecting noir and martial arts-influenced elements into the work he did on the book, but by changing the world’s bedrock understanding of Daredevil. While the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen had been drifting away from his wisecracking Scarlet Swashbuckler roots for a while, he became an entirely different kind of hero under Miller’s guidance. Ever since, while there may be moments of levity in Daredevil’s life, the dark turmoil that Miller introduced has become the norm for Murdock’s life and character.

Born Again

Matt and Karen in Born Again

Miller returned to the book as a writer a few years after leaving to rock DD’s world even more intensely. Here the transitions included Murdock’s double life being known by his worst enemy, the loss of his law license, the destruction of his home, the return of his ex, and the temporary severing of his friendship with Foggy. All in a single storyline.

Road Trippin’

After defeating Kingpin and getting some semblance of his life back in the final chapter of “Born Again” it did not take long for Murdock to end up being his worst enemy all over again. While shakily trying to start anew with a newly crusading activist Karen Page, DD found himself tempted by Mary Walker.

As if that would not be bad enough, Walker also happened to be Typhoid Mary. Thus, on the personal front she kicked the legs out from underneath his fledging relationship while literally kicking the legs out from underneath on the costumed front.

Broken mentally and physically from his battles with her and his conscience, Murdock struck out on the road to find himself. Wandering without an agenda, he slowly began to piece himself together while New York remained in the rearview for months.

Matt Murdock in the Sheets, but Jack Batlin on the Streets

Matt and Maggie

While Ben Urich had kept DD’s true identity under wraps after figuring it out, not every reporter proved so scrupulous. When an intern fixing Urich’s computer found out Matt’s secret, she quickly flipped to another paper. While Hornhead did much to discredit the story, he still felt he and those he loved could not be safe – so he faked his death.

He then began his life anew as a small-time hustler known as Jack Batlin. He continued to fight crime as Daredevil, albeit in a different, armored costume, and stayed in NYC but otherwise abandoned all the trappings of his old life. He still, of course, remained Matt Murdock at his core. To everyone around him though? Only Jack Batlin existed.

Return to Life, Joy

Living life as Jack Batlin proved frustrating. Insanity provoking, in fact. When Murdock began experiencing blackouts and delusions, he eventually engaged in a metaphysical quest to reclaim himself. The final act of that involved him going to S.H.I.E.L.D. and convincing them to reintroduce him to the world and that the organization faked his death for his own good.

Following his “resurrection,” Matt revealed a new zeal for life. Resembling his early incarnation more than the familiar Miller-inspired version we knew and loved, Daredevil had a hop in his step we had not seen in years.

Doing Time

While he experienced plenty of transitions on his way to jail, they had become old hat for DD. However, going to jail for being Daredevil was certainly a very different kind of transition. He may have only spent a few months behind bars, perhaps even less, but it certainly proved a brand new experience for the Man Without Fear.

My Demon, Myself

Daredevil goes dark

Who amongst us has not been worshipped by a death cult like the Hand because we have slowly begun to be fully possessed by a demonic entity known as the Beast? While Daredevil had long been the hero of Hell’s Kitchen and had even gone as far as declaring himself the Kingpin of it, establishing Shadowland and become the Demon Lord of the neighborhood certainly took things up a notch. Add in that he seemingly murdered Bullseye while in the Beast’s full thrawl and you have yourself one heck of a new level for the character.

Scarlet Swashbuckling Once More

After another road trip to find himself, Matt Murdock returned to New York revitalized and upbeat. While Foggy Nelson remained skeptical and evidence suggested that perhaps DD had begun to black out again, it turned to be a true and honest change. Only manipulations by Bullseye and his underlings like Ikari and the Coyote has cast a shadow of doubt on DD’s recovery.

Living Out Loud

Matt writing his autobiography

In order to win a trial, Murdock outed himself on the stand. He achieved victory but totally derailed his career in the process. So he headed out to San Fran once again. There, though, Daredevil made no effort to hide all the “whos” he was. He wore a red business suit as a costume so he could always be attorney at law and Super Hero at the same time, and he even released a book detailing his life to date. Even for a guy who seems to get exposed every few years, this proved as public an identity as he had ever had.

For the Prosecution, Matt Murdock?!

The City by the Bay is beautiful, no doubt. But to a true New Yorker like Matt Murdock nothing can beat the Greatest City on Earth. Before long, he had to hotfoot it back to Manhattan. When he got there though, he did things very differently. His identity once again concealed due to the children of Purple Man doing him a favor, the Man Without Fear also became the attorney for the prosecution. Not only that, he took on a partner to train—Blindspot—for arguably the first time ever.

MAN WITHOUT FEAR #5, written by Jed McKay with art by Danilo Beyruth, is available now, online and at your local comic shop.

Look out for DAREDEVIL #1 next week, February 6, to see where writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Marco Checchetto are taking Matt Murdock next. You can pre-order your copy now!

Cover of Daredevil #1


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