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Feature: Daredevil

Better the devil you know…

Dardevil, coming to help out New York… The Man Without Fear is coming to the cinema screen in the form of Ben Affleck. We reveal the tangled history of Spider-Man’s rival as New York’s greatest crime-fighter, Daredevil…

A young man with an alliterative name is involved in a radioactive accident, which grants him supernormal powers. The death of a father figure inspires him to don a red mask and a skin-tight costume as he patrols the streets of New York City dispensing vigilante justice. He creates a device that allows him to swing between rooftops, and uses his incredible agility and uncanny sixth sense to combat an array of colourful super-criminals. Does that sound at all familiar?

After the smash success of last year’s long-awaited big screen version of Spider-Man, Daredevil – set for a Valentine’s Day opening on both sides of the Atlantic – is well-placed to cash in on the similarities between the two characters. However, working with a comparatively modest budget, writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and star Ben Affleck may find it difficult to shine in the wall-crawler’s shadow. While Spider-Man is the star of about a gazillion comic books, and has conquered all manner of other media, his horn-headed friend has been happy to plod along in a single monthly title, his only notable wider exposure being in a disappointing Incredible Hulk TV movie. Still, with almost 40 years of continual publication under his belt, Daredevil has demonstrated impressive staying power in an industry littered with also-rans and has-beens.

Like Spider-Man, Daredevil, dubbed ‘The Man Without Fear’, was created for Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, and made his début just 20 months after his more famous stable-mate. Spidey even appeared on the cover of Daredevil #1 (1964) to reassure comic book readers that this new superhero was cast from the same mould as his illustrious predecessor.

There were some differences, of course. With Spider-Man, Lee had set the comic book world on its head by bestowing amazing powers upon a neurotic teenager. Daredevil’s alter-ego, Matt Murdock, had devoted years to studying and training after his accident, and was thus a mature professional – specifically, a lawyer – in the vein of more established heroes like Superman and Batman. Nevertheless, Daredevil had a gimmick of his own, one that made him unique in the superhero pantheon. He was blind.

by Steve Lyons

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Photo © 20th Century Fox
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #295
February 2003
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