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Daredevil

Daredevil is a fictional comic book superhero with his own comic series from Marvel Comics. He is a lawyer who was blinded by nuclear waste as a child but had his remaining senses raised to superhuman sharpness and a radar sense to compensate. He fights crime using both his senses and extensive training in acrobatics and martial arts to his advantage.

The character was created in 1964 by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, who previously created the Submariner. It was the last title character created during the opening rush of creativity in the beginning of Marvel Comics and one of the few early Marvel characters who premiered in his own title from the onset.

The title character, Matt Murdock, is a boy who grew up in inner city of New York, the son of Battling Jack Murdock, a fading boxer. He is insistent that his son take his schooling so he would not follow in his father's footsteps. Matt follows his father's wishes, but could not keep his natural athleticism down and worked out as vigorously as he studied. Not that it mattered to his schoolmates who taunted the apparent bookworm with the name, Daredevil.

Matt's life dramatically changes when he saves an old blind man who is crossing the street and about to be hit by an oncoming truck by pushing him out of way. The truck swerves and crashes and its cargo of a radioactive waste container is released and opened with a portion of the content striking Matt in the face, permanently blinding him.

After a difficult recovery, the blind boy soon learns to cope with his disability, only to secretly learn of the boons the radioactive exposure granted him. Namely, his remaining senses are raised to superhuman sharpness. He can hear any sound regardless of volume or pitch, his sense of smell is more sensitive than a bloodhound, his sense of taste allows him to identify individual ingredients of prepared foods, his sense of touch is so acute he can read regular print like it is braille. Most important of all, Matt gains a radar sense which allows to detect physical objects' position and their general shape, giving him a valuable advantage, especially in the dark where the odds are in his favour.

As Matt excels in his education and is well on his way to become a lawyer, his father is still struggling to help his son. To that end, he approaches the one fight promoter willing to book him, a small time crook nicknamed The Fixer. The Fixer agrees and arranges a series of matches with opponents instructed to take dives in order to create the image of the aging boxer being a real contender. That all leads to one big fight where Fixer instructed the fighter to take his own dive. At the fight, Jack realized that his son was watching and did not have the heart to disappoint him. So, he fought with all his heart and won by a knockout. After the fight, he was promptly murdered by the Fixer for welching on his bargain.

Distraught, Matt Murdock investigated the crime and learned the role of the Fixer. Hungry to bring the criminal to justice, but still mindful of his childhood promise not to resort to violence, Matt decides to don another identity as a loophole in it. Fashioning a yellow and black suit, he decides to use to the old school taunt name, Daredevil and adjusts the cowl to have two small hornlike points and puts a large letter D on the chest. Armed only with a billy club, he confronts the Fixer and his gang. With his superb physical skill, he sends them reeling. Panicked, the Fixer flees with Daredevil in close pursuit until he keeled over from a heart attack.

Although there is little logical reason to continue that identity after that episode, Matt Murdock continues his war of crime even as he runs his law firm with his partner, Franklin "Foggy" Nelson and their secretary, Karen Page. Along the way, he racks up his own rogue's gallery like the criminal mastermind, The Owl, the Stiltman and the Gladiator which he battles with his own superb acrobatic agility and lighthearted humour.

This character was an undistinguished second stringer character that came off as a Spider-Man knock off with a similar flair for acrobatics and swinging among the towers of New York. The title did benefit from noteworthy artists such as comics legend Wally Wood[?] whose short run left the mark of not only the best written post first issues stories but also changing Daredevil's costume to the distinctive all red uniform. In addition, the series enjoyed a long run by artist Gene Colan[?] whose talented artwork helped keep the title vital through much of the 1960s and '70s. However, the title's sales declined by the late seventies until it was speculated that they should fold the title into the Iron Man title.

That all changed when a new artist came on to the title, Frank Miller. His art brought a new dynamism to the comic and the title got even better when he took over the writing as well. What he did was change the whole tone of the title to a dark noir setting where evil seems all present, corruption is rife throughout the seats of power and the comic's hero is a tortured man dancing on the edge of sanity and his principles while dealing with the inner rage that proved to be the real reason for his role as Daredevil. Many of the regular antagonists were dropped as Miller set up the principles who have become definitive with the modern Daredevil. They would include the Kingpin, originally a run of the mill Spider-Man villain, becoming the truly king like lord of New York's crime community who would share a complex relationship with the hero who would become his greatest enemy. Bullseye, formerly a hit man with the gimmick that he can hit any target with anything he can throw or shoot, became a cold blooded pathological murderer who is our hero's physical nemesis on the street level. Daredevil gained a mentor, the mysterious Stick, a pool shark/sensei who trained the young Matt to control his senses and taught him the acrobatic martial arts that would make him so formidable. Finally, an old flame was revealed from Daredevil's past, Elektra. She is a college girlfriend and a daughter of a Greek ambassador with an amorally wild violent streak that led her down the path to become a deadly ninja assassin who comes into the employ of The Kingpin even as she is hunted by the ninja clan, The Hand.

Taken together, Frank Miller created a sensation that established a new take on superheroes with a dark tone that would influence the whole genre. Daredevil became a popular title and Frank Miller's influence would be felt ever since. Other notable writers would include Kevin Smith and Brian Michael Bendis[?] who would make superb stories, but they would use the essential world that was Miller's creation.

As for other media, Daredevil was the original late bloomer for Marvel with no major appearances until the 1980s. There was Trial of the Incredible Hulk, a TV movie that was essentially a pilot for Daredevil, played by Rex Mason. The character would also appear in the various Marvel superhero animated series from that time.

Finally, in 2003, a big budget feature film starring Ben Affleck in the title role was released and proved to be an moderate success. As expected to the character's fans, it is Frank Miller's take on the character that was the guide for the filmmakers.



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