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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hero worship

Compared with most normal people, I could probably be considered a bit obsessed with superheroes. But put me alongside some avid "fanboys" and I seem very low-spectrum. At least nowadays. I am going to be 61 very soon and I suppose a certain waning of interest is to be expected. 

Recently I posted an Iron Man diorama which prompted a private exchange between me and recent Spooner recipient, Tomy. During our conversation I mentioned that my favorite superhero was Marvel's Daredevil and said I should really take a picture of what my son calls my "Daredevil Shrine". For those utterly unfamiliar, here is what Daredevil looks like:

An issue from the 70's that I have particularly enjoyed....and have still.

Daredevil "The Man Without Fear" first appeared in April of 1964......a bit too early for me to have appreciated at the time.....since I was only 4. Since then he has been featured in a rather tepid movie with Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner, and more recently in a good quality series on Netflix starring Charlie Cox......who does a much better Matt Murdock (Daredevil's daytime lawyer alter ego.) than Affleck.

Daredevil appeals to me for several reasons. He is a dark character. In fact, the writer, Frank Miller, 'darkened up' the character a few years before he did the same for Batman. So if you think of what Batman was like in the 60's and how he suddenly became "the Dark Knight"......that was Miller's retooling......and he did it to Daredevil first. 

I also liked that in terms of powers he is not unlike most of us. He has no super-strength, no healing factor, no claws that pop out of his hands, he doesn't even own a high-tech iron suit. The only strange powers he does possess are heightened senses and a kind of 'radar sense', which enables him to envision things all around him in a kind of 360 degree vision......which is the ONLY vision he has since Daredevil is technically blind. 

For decades, artists have struggled with rendering how Daredevils 'sees' his world. But two-dimensional drawings in a comic book, or even a scene in a movie are too limited to get it exactly right. The images are more than just shapes to him. They are a combination of sonar-like impressions, sounds, smells, tastes........all in a spherical display with him in its center. There is no sneaking up on him. He doesn't need to turn around to punch you or throw something at you. It's like a sightless but otherwise sense-rich immersion which requires him to struggle more to edit things out, than pull information in. It's hard for him to relax. It's hard for him to sleep. His world does not diminish by closing his eyes.

When we admire a hero we often look for a blend of things we can relate to set against traits we don't have that we admire. For me, the thought of being blind is beyond terrifying. So I admire his ability to transcend something I dread. He also is a morally-conflicted, "lapsed Catholic"........something I was when the character first appealed to me.
(Now I am more of an atheist as many of you know.) His stories.....especially his later ones.....were never bright, happy, battles for good. They were battles that challenged the notions of good. They encompassed perspectives rather than black-and-white dichotomies. Good stuff.

As a spanko, I always loved this scene....even though it was a singular aberration whose theme was never repeated. I also found it ironic years later that one of Daredevil's nicknames was "DD".....the other being "hornhead".

Anyway, once I set him up in my mind as a favorite, I began collecting a lot of "Daredevil memorabilia", and to be honest, that was initially a very economical pursuit since Daredevil never had a huge following. Everyone knows Spiderman, Captain America, and the Hulk, but whenever I would say my favorite character was Daredevil, I would get a blank stare. Nowadays that has changed and he is way more popular than he used to be, but he is still an acquired taste for a limited base.

But now that you all have an idea of who Daredevil is, let's get to that shrine:

Here are figures, glasses, cars, buttons, gaming pieces, key-chains, and a collectible statue. (There are other statues not in my possession that are amazing but whose price tags were sadly prohibitive.)  The scary part is that this shrine doesn't even contain everything I own, and there are several more figures,  and movie posters that are on display with other sets, or packed away. Several boxes are also sadly positioned in front of others and so in many places there are figures behind the ones you can see. And then there are the comic books! I have nearly all of the first volume, including the first ten issues. 

You can see that the classic all red outfit was his primary look, but he started out as a combination of yellow, red, and black. He also donned a few other outfits over the years including one that incorporated some armor......since he had no bulletproof skin or unbreakable bones. It's scary to think that this one shot represent several thousands of dollars of comic book value.

To be honest, I have not kept up with my hero for a long time now. My son has informed me of some of the more dramatic plot twists and developments, but I just don't have the inclination to collect comics and read them like I used to. Still, heroes tend to be what we want them to be. Their glory days are etched in our minds and recent developments seem insignificant when measured against our own relationship with the character. Regardless of what has transpired since, or what happens in the future, for me, Daredevil will always be the red-clad "Man Without Fear" acrobatically prowling the streets of NYC's 'Hell's Kitchen' looking without sight for wrongs to right......and wrestle with.


  1. psssst for some reason I got in ! go figure

  2. Daredevil was my favorite, too, of all the superheroes, but I haven't bought a comic since I started dating (then married) Merry, 7 1/2 years ago. SO many comic book boxes in the garage... Dunno what to do with 'em.

    1. Something in common! My end to buying goes back a few years more....closer to 11.

      As to 'what to do' with comics......or any collectible......the answers end up being very personal. For me the answer on this one is easy: they go to my son eventually. If he didn't want them, I'd be in the same quandary.

  3. I am a little older then you and was into DC comics as kid, all of them, had a very large collection and got my first job to have money for these things. You are so right about it all though,imagining being your hero.

    1. If you have a large collection, you should consider their fate.

      Which character do you relate to?

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Glen. I wish you could see the details that are hidden or not pictured.

  5. One thing I kind of differ about is Daredevil's powers. While I agree he doesn't fly or stuff like that, his athleticism would make Jim Thorpe envious.

    1. I have noticed that as well. Comic characters tend to be able to do things......even when they don't have a special power.....that certainly stretch believability. BUT.......these ARE comic books. LOL In his defense though, I do recall he ended up hurt.....a lot!

  6. I'm a little older than you kd by about 10 years. I didn't have a super hero at the time, I was more into Archie comics and even back then I wished he would spank Betty.

    1. I see. As for Archie spankings....I'm sure you've seen the plethora of fan images depicting every conceivable permutation/combination of that theme? If not, one Google image search will give you plenty to ponder.

  7. Sorry, I'm a little late to the party this week. When I was a kid, and into high school, I was a huge comics book fan. Mainly Marvel, though some Batman after Frank Miller darkened him up. While I've forgiven my mother for a lot of things, her one truly unpardonable sin was throwing out my comic book collection after I left for college.

    "When we admire a hero we often look for a blend of things we can relate to set against traits we don't have that we admire." I don't know if my choice in heroes reflects traits I "admire," but it's possibly true though in kind of a twisted way. I tend to gravitate toward the heroes who are complex and dark, to the point of sometimes being almost anti-heroes. Growing up, my favorite was always Wolverine, with his nihilistic and cynical worldview and penchant for going full-out psycho. On the DC comics front, about the only hero I had any affinity for was Batman, and it was because he was dark and more than a little twisted. Probably the most "positive" hero for me was Spider-Man, but even there I think the attraction was all the teenage angst and insecurity, coupled with some real loss including parents, Uncle Ben, and the death of Gwen Stacy. Among the female heroes, I was always attracted to Rogue and, again, she is a sympathetic character because of her darkness and enforced detachment from others.

    I seem to have the same attraction for villains who have one foot in the light and one darkness. I like Magneto, and to me the Michael Fassbender portrayal is one of the few highlights of the X-Men movie franchise.

    1. It's interesting that our inclinations are similar but our choices are different. I guess it's how we characterize things like "dark", etc.

      I also find Magneto a better villain than some pure evil like Thanos, or a psychopath like Norman Osbourne or Doom.

      Like I said, I like a LOT of characters......otherwise I wouldn't collect the way I do (did), but my Top 3 has always been Darevevil, Cap, & the that order. If i kept going, the list would get really long, really fast. LOL

    2. Same here, and I do like Daredevil. I also like Ghost Rider, and even followed one called The Son of Satan for awhile. Cap was always a little too much of a "goodie two shoes" for me. I also like Hawkeye, though maybe because I read something speculating that he is a submissive husband. :-)

    3. Hmmm, too much here to let go.

      Liking Cap is a seeming contradiction for me, but there are reasons I like him.....especially when he's being written well:
      1: his initial naivete regarding patriotism was challenged and left him disillusioned for a while
      2: I admire the sort of Wil Kane/Atticus Finch heroism of doing the right thing even when you feel you can't win. I strive for that but achieve it only rarely. Cap lived by it.
      3: Steve Rogers is an artist/illustrator
      and lastly, 4: when written skillfully the aspect of being a 'man out of time' resonates a bit with me. It's a tragic and unique form of isolationism. Of never fitting in. Of feeling like the world you knew is gone and replaced with a watered down substitute. I tend to like old stuff and frown a bit at newer things that seem flashy but shallow. So I like that aspect of him.

      Ghost Rider is interesting at times but his story got so convoluted after his initial runs that he just got too "all over the place" for me. I mean how many are there at this point? But I do like the original premise and run.

      Daimon Hellstrom (Son of Satan). I only followed him for a bit when he was with one of the incarnations of the Defenders. Curious. What do you think about Blackheart?

      I don't recall anything about Clint Barton being a sub male in marriage, but he did utter something telling in a frame once back when Janet van Dyne was doing the giantess thing rather than shrinking and she appears towering over a building and Hawkeye says to Cap, "You know I've had dreams like this."

    4. I get it with Cap now that you lay it out. I don't have any memory of Blackheart, and I may have stopped reading Ghost Rider by the time he was introduced. I also don't recall Hellstrom being part of the Defenders. I had mostly stopped reading comic books by the time I got out of high school, though I've bought a few here and there since then. That Barton quote is awesome!

    5. By the way, did you see the movie Logan? If so, what did you think?

    6. Didn't see Logan. I'm kind of done with Marvel movies lately. They are so bad. But if Logan is worthwhile in your opinion I might give it a try.

      As for Daimon Hellstrom..... you do know he has his own series on Hulu right now? I haven't seen it, but if you're a fan??????