Daredevil (Vol. 1) #1

Credits:

Cover Date: April 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Bill Everett

“The Origin of Daredevil”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Bill Everett

Inkers: Bill Everett, Steve Ditko, Sol Brodsky

What’s Going On?

Daredevil is out to bring the men that killed his father to justice!

Details:

  • Daredevil shows up at a local gym, looking for The Fixer.

  • Daredevil makes quick work of the Fixer’s underlings.

  • The story then flashes back to tell DD’s origin. As a young boy, Matt Murdock wanted to play outside with the neighborhood boys, but his dad made him promise to study hard instead; Jack Murdock was an old boxer, and he wanted his son to use brains, and not brawn, to succeed.

  • Mistaking Matt’s unavailability to play sports for cowardice, the local kids nicknamed him “Daredevil.” This led to Matt working out and getting strong in secret, while his father was out of town boxing.

  • One day, on his way home from the library, Matt saw an old man in the road, about to get hit by a truck. Matt dived into the road to save the old man, but got struck in the face by some chemicals the truck was hauling.

  • Matt was blinded by the chemicals. But, unknown to anyone but him, his other senses were greatly enhanced by the accident.

  • Meanwhile, Matt’s father was seeing a career resurgence. After thinking he was washed up, Jack had signed a contract with the Fixer, and suddenly he was winning matches! Little did he realize that his opponents were losing to him intentionally.

  • Jack was ordered to take a dive in his next fight, but he refused to lose intentionally in his biggest fight, in front of his own son.

  • Jack Murdock was shot dead in the streets for winning the fight and screwing up the Fixer’s well-placed bets.
  • In the days that followed, Matt graduated from college and started a law practice with his best friend, Foggy Nelson.

  • Matt was struggling to move forward with his life, though, knowing that his father’s killer had not been caught. He didn’t want to break his promise to his father and resort to violence. As a work-around, he created a new identity that could use violence: Daredevil!

  • Back in the present time, the Fixer arrives at the gym, and is confronted by DD. He quickly concludes that the Fixer gave the order to kill Jack Murdock, and that his lackey, Slade, was the one to pull the trigger.

  • The Fixer and Slade ran from Daredevil, but he caught up with them. The Fixer has a fatal heart attack during the chase, and Slade confessed everything to the police.

Is It Good?

It is! I wasn’t expecting much, because I’ve picked up some late-‘60’s Daredevil issues and thought they had aged poorly, but this was a pretty cool first issue. I really liked Bill Everett’s artwork; it definitely has an old-timey feel to it (which makes sense, since he co-created the Sub-Mariner 20+ years before), but it is expressive and told the story well. This is a classic origin for a classic character, and this issue has me excited for more.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Daredevil (Matt Murdock). Matt is a lawyer, as well as a vigilante. Daredevil has enhanced senses and a “radar sense.”

  • Daredevil can also detect how fast a person’s heart beats, making him a reliable lie detector.

  • Daredevil’s weapon of choice is his cane, which transforms into a billy club.

  • This is also the first appearance of Franklin “Foggy” Nelson and Karen Page. Foggy is Matt’s best friend and legal partner. Karen is their secretary and will obviously be a romantic interest in the near future.

  • This is the first appearance (and death) of “Battling” Jack Murdock, Matt’s father.
  • This is the first appearance of Slade and the Fixer (who also died in this issue).
  • This is the first cover corner box for Daredevil:

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Why does this look more like a carnival recruitment than any sort of “rasslin”?

  • The speedo/tall boots combination makes this the most confident workout outfit ever.

  • Jack Murdock’s nickname was “Battling Jack” —- it was even on his warm-up robes —- so naturally, the newspapers called him… “Kid Murdock”?

  • The…colors…feel different. That is actually the most ridiculous thing in this entire comic.

Behind the Scenes:

  • Legend (AKA former Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, who knows his Marvel history) has it that Bill Everett’s frequent lateness with his Daredevil artwork inadvertently led to the creation of the Avengers. With a publishing slot open, and a deadline coming quickly, Stan Lee opted to throw together a team of pre-existing characters to fill the gap because Daredevil wasn’t going to be done on time.
  • It is worth noting that Bill Everett was several months late with this book, and still received uncredited inking help. That implies that, even months late, there was still a deadline crunch to finish the issue.  Without checking the credits on upcoming issues, I’m guessing Bill Everett doesn’t get much more work in Marvel’s Silver Age.

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