‘Man Without Fear’: Who Else Has Guarded Hell's Kitchen?
Matt Murdock has not been the only one in the horns over the years.
Being Daredevil has proven time and again to be a heartbreaking bit of business for Matt Murdock. So bad, in fact, it can be hard to imagine anyone would have a desire to take his place.
Despite that, however, we have seen several other people don the horns of the hero. The latest comes in the five-issue limited series MAN WITHOUT FEAR, but he or she should know that they will hardly be a trailblazer. Whoever they might be, they’d do well to know who else has preceded them as the Guardian of Hell’s Kitchen. And so should you. We here at Marvel.com have prepared you this handy guide to the “other Daredevils.”
Spidey and Hornhead have dressed as each other so many times at this point, they must just really love how the other’s costume fits. Whether it has been to create confusion in court, most recently in DAREDEVIL #25, or because Peter has misplaced all of his own costumes, as in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #566, the Webhead has never hesitated to slip into the red fighting togs for his friend and ally.
While he might not be able to mimic Daredevil’s acrobatics as well as the Wallcrawler, Nelson has donned the DD suit a few times in service of his best friend. (After the first time he pretended to be Daredevil, of course, when he was trying to win the affections of Karen Page.) Again, it always ended up being in the service of sowing confusion and, hopefully, ensuring that one would not have an easy time linking Murdock and Daredevil as being one in the same.
Being Matt Murdock means sometimes going to jail so the FBI can look tough and some of your enemies can get a chance to murder you in a gruesome way behind bars. What’s worse, or at least as bad, is if while Murdock does time, no one sees the Man Without Fear. That can lead to all sorts of (correct) conclusions about the connections between the two.
Which is why in DAREDEVIL (Vol. 2) #87, Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist, dons the crimson tights to keep DD on the streets. While Murdock fights to survive and escape during the “Devil in Cell Block D” arc, Rand patrolled Hell’s Kitchen and made it seem as though the FBI’s declaration of Murdock and Daredevil being one and the same amounted to nothing more than pure nonsense.
While it seems difficult to believe that anyone would confuse Matt Murdock with a bright red demonic figure with gigantic real horns, this INFINITY WAR doppelganger nonetheless tried to pull that very trick.
It all went down beginning in DAREDEVIL #319 at the start of the “Fall from Grace” storyline. After some time away, Hellspawn returned to NYC. Like so many before him, the demon figured if he could make it in the Big Apple, he could make it anywhere. Moreover, the rumor of a chemical agent that could grant your deepest wish promised him the chance to become 100% human and Matt Murdock-y in appearance.
In the end, Hellspawn did get his wish. However, as with any Monkey Paw-style situation, he did so just in time to end up dead and give Murdock the perfect avenue to fake his own death. Which brings us to…
Jack Batlin dressed as Daredevil from DAREDEVIL #325 to #345. A street hustler by trade, he sought to balance the scales of justice in the mid-‘90s armored Daredevil suit. He was also actually Matt Murdock, living a new life after faking his death. In time, the pressure of being someone else got to Murdock and his psyche broke. Only by accepting himself once more and clearing up the rumors about him being Daredevil did he re-achieve sanity.
Less of a costume change than a job title assumption, T’Challa stepped in for DD while Matt Murdock went on a cross-country trip. Following the events of SHADOWLAND wherein Murdock ended up possessed by a demon and becoming a real “hornhead,” the man needed to take a break and find some way to forgive himself. However, he hated the idea of abandoning Hell’s Kitchen so shortly after making it, briefly, literal Hell on Earth.
T’Challa, meanwhile, had been a bit down on his luck as well. Recently having woken from a coma to find himself powerless, his sister the new Black Panther and ruler of Wakanda, T’Challa did not know exactly who he should be. Worse, the last thing he had done before leaving Wakanda was render all the Vibranium inert, essentially destroying his country’s number-one resource. Thus, he needed a new mission and a new way to prove himself.
He became the new Guardian of Hell’s Kitchen on Matt’s behalf. He did not wear the horns, probably for the best given what residents of the neighborhood had just finished dealing with, but in all other ways, he became, effectively, Daredevil.
An out-of-work actor looking for an angle, Hillman found it in DAREDEVIL (Vol. 2) #25. With DD being sued for property damage, Hillman hit upon the idea of pretending to be the Man Without Fear himself. He showed up in court, unmasked, and claimed he had been the original Hornhead. He had retired and the “current” person in the costume actually had been trained by him to assume the identity.
Between Hillman and Spider-Man pretending to be Daredevil, the case become so muddled it had to be dismissed. This also set up Hillman to pen a book deal about “his” adventures as the Guardian of Hell’s Kitchen. At present date, it remains unknown if he ever received such offers or delivered the tome.
From the ridiculous to the despicable.
Matt Murdock went on another cross-country soul quest, but returned to New York even more muddled. So confused, in fact, he initially began to live life as Jack Murdock, his own father. Bullseye learned of the absence of DD on the streets and decided to take advantage of things by assuming the mantle himself.
He ran around New York for days, sowing chaos, and using heroics for personal gain. Meanwhile, Matt began to get his head on straight. He regained his memories and reordered his skewed consciousness. When finally more like himself or not, he donned Bullseye’s costume and challenged his arch enemy.
Their fight culminated in the ring where Matt’s dad used to train. Each combatant, identities unstable to say the least, pounded the other to a pulp. In the end, Matt proved to have the stronger grasp of his core self and defeated the confused, physically exhausted Man Who Can’t Miss.
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