Marvel Comics was coming into its own in the 70s which is apparent from the newly released Epic Collection Daredevil Epic Collection: A Woman Called Widow. In the 512-page trade Daredevil goes to Los Angeles to check on Karen Page’s new career as an actress, teams up with Black Widow, and fights various newly minted supervillains like Zodiac, Ramrod, and Tribune. Superheroes fighting supervillains was big business and this epic collection has that in droves. What it doesn’t have is a well adjusted Daredevil. The character is quite loopy although given the history of the character later in the 80s and 90s that tracks. In this collection, Matt is alone quite a bit swinging through New York City or snooping in Karen’s apartment. It’s no wonder he talks to himself out loud, worries constantly that he’s getting old, and is possibly the worst superhero boyfriend ever.
Matt Murdock is a terrible boyfriend
This collection opens with Matt heading out to Los Angeles to visit Karen. To start this little endeavor of checking up on Karen he decides to break into her apartment!
He proceeds to rifle through her stuff and finds a letter from her mother. Of course, he reads it but he’s a superhero in love so why not. Later Karen finds out the reviewers love her and Matt is jealous. Karen tries to calm Matt down and after some fighting around tar pits involving a makeup artist and Stilt-Man he decides to put the question to Karen.
Daredevil storms off after she doesn’t give him a quick answer and he heads back to New York. We see Matt lament Karen blaming her for not picking him here and there over the next twenty or so issues. If you asked me Karen is better off without this jerk.
Matt Murdock thinks he’s old
Daredevil was originally published for the first time in 1964 putting this collection at just six years after he was introduced. You’d think he’d be feeling young and fancy-free, but apparently, Gerry Conway wanted the hero to whine about getting old. You see it a few times in this collection one of which is most notable as he makes fun of “fat old men” who work out at gyms. He’s glad he can’t get into a gym since he’s blind. Seriously folks turned blind people away from gyms? Anyway, he then comments on how he’s out of breath and out loud to himself I might add.
Then two issues later Daredevil is swinging around on trees and comments again on his age.
It’s funny he mentions he wants to hear himself talk because a major theme in this collection is how Daredevil can’t shut up. Thought balloons were certainly used at the time and yet Daredevil is always talking out loud for all to hear. That leads to my next point.
Matt Murdock talks to himself way too much
Seriously, it’s concerning how much Matt talks to himself in this collection. Far and away this collection has Matt interacting with folks very little aside from villains. Even Foggy is reduced to a character Matt asks for favors and not much more. At one point, Matt reflects on losing to a villain named Tagak and his tiger.
Maybe all that talking to yourself and being lonely has made you gone a bit crazy? I mean, Matt is smashing mirrors out of rage. Conway may have grown tired of the constant talking to himself stuff as near the end of this collection Daredevil has this to say…
It’s fascinating to read these old Daredevil stories since it’s obvious the creators weren’t sure how to use him. He was a hero the public liked–Spider-Man even comments on Daredevil being lucky because of it in this collection–and he even had a decent job as a lawyer. And yet creators like Gerry Conway who wrote the majority of this collection constantly made Matt Murdock quick to anger, jealous of his girlfriend, and generally unhinged. He was a character who fought alone, but with a smile, and maybe the smartest move was to depict him as a little fast and loose to explain the behavior. It’s a fun series to read in part because it’s incredibly tricky to unpack the hero protagonist being so unbalanced.
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