Friday

OMU: Daredevil -- Year Four

The next twelve months in the life of Daredevil see a major shake-up of the status quo. After breaking up with his original love-interest, Karen Page, Matt Murdock hooks up with Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow. He also ends his professional partnership with Foggy Nelson and leaves New York’s Hell’s Kitchen to move out to San Francisco with his new girlfriend. Daredevil has a steep learning curve when faced with the Black Widow’s feminism, which provides some interesting new character dynamics. All these radical changes are mitigated somewhat by return engagements with most of Daredevil’s familiar rogues gallery from the first year of his crimefighting career—Electro, the Owl, the Purple Man, Mister Fear, the Ox, Stilt-Man, and the Gladiator. Also, these issues enjoy a welcome visual consistency provided by penciler Gene Colan, who’s nearing the end of a landmark run.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Here comes… The True History of Daredevil, the Man Without Fear!


January 1965 – Matt Murdock is in Los Angeles investigating the murder of Ross Archer, Karen Page’s co-star on the gothic soap opera Strange Secrets. As Daredevil, he attends Archer’s funeral so he can evaluate the other members of the cast and crew with his hypersenses. Unfortunately, Daredevil is spotted by Lieutenant Nately, the LAPD homicide detective assigned to the case, who tells the hero to leave. Daredevil complies, but hides out on the roof of the church as the mourners exit. He is annoyed when Karen emerges from the building arm-in-arm with the handsome actor Vince Sterling. The next day, Daredevil lurks around the studio as production resumes on Strange Secrets. He discovers that the head of the special-effects department had created a strength-enhancing exo-skeleton for the monstrous character “Brother Brimstone” and realizes the murderer must be trying to steal the suit. Learning that Karen has been lured to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum a few miles away, Daredevil races to the scene and rescues her from “Brother Brimstone,” who is revealed to be Sterling. When the villain sinks into the sticky tar, Daredevil is unable to save him. Having lost its two lead actors, the studio decides to put the show on hiatus.

A few days later, Karen gets a call from producer Ray Stevens, who offers her a lead role in the pilot for the Stunt-Master TV series. After Karen accepts the job, Stevens asks her to see if she can convince her friend Daredevil to sign on as well. Matt is reluctant at first, but finally agrees to change into Daredevil and meet with the producer. At the studio, Daredevil discusses the project with Stevens and his star, George Smith, a.k.a. Stunt-Master. During the conversation, Daredevil thinks someone is watching them from outside the window, but when they check, they find no one there. Finally, Daredevil accepts Stevens’ offer of $50,000 to guest-star in the pilot episode.

About a week later, Daredevil arrives at the filming location to shoot his first fight-sequence with Stunt-Master. While Karen is doing a scene, Daredevil takes a phone call in her trailer from New York District Attorney Franklin P. “Foggy” Nelson, who has discovered that Matt is not in Florida as he claimed he would be. Daredevil reassures Foggy, then returns to the set. As filming begins, Daredevil quickly realizes that Stunt-Master has been replaced by an imposter who turns out to be Stilt-Man. Their battle disrupts the production, but Daredevil easily overcomes Stilt-Man’s clumsy attempt to kill him. Later, observing as Karen and Stunt-Master shoot a love scene, Matt is so filled with jealousy that he tells Karen that Foggy needs him back in New York. Forced to choose between her lover and her career, Karen hesitates. Matt gets angry and storms off, catching the next flight back to New York City.

Arriving at the district attorney’s office the next day, Matt finds that Foggy is taking on a crooked boxing syndicate. He is intrigued to learn that the syndicate’s top middleweight fighter, Kid Gawaine, is training under “Pop” Fenton, who worked with Battling Jack Murdock around twenty years ago. Matt immediately heads out to their training camp, where he meets Gawaine and catches up with Fenton. When the members of the syndicate get violent, Matt decides he’d better keep an eye on the young boxer until his championship bout in a few days. Thus, Daredevil intervenes the next evening when a carload of thugs try to beat up Gawaine in an alley. However, upon arriving at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, Matt overhears the crooks plotting to use a high-tech device to make Gawaine lose the fight. Thus, Matt disguises himself as Kid Gawaine and enters the ring with his opponent, Slugger Sloan. Matt overcomes the device’s effects, knocks out Sloan, then apprehends the leaders of the syndicate, with some help from “Pop” Fenton.

The district attorney’s office arranges for Vietnam vet and former Green Beret Billy Carver to infiltrate an African-American street gang known as the Thunderbolts. Carver passes along information that a certain warehouse in Harlem is to be robbed one night, so Matt makes sure to be on the scene as Daredevil. When the gang members arrive, Daredevil beats up three of them, but the fourth tries to escape, only to crash his truck into a brick wall. Daredevil is surprised to discover the injured driver is a boy of about fifteen. Unexpectedly, the Black Panther turns up and helps Daredevil get the boy to the hospital, where he explains that the boy is Lonnie Carver, one of his students at the Harlem high school where he teaches. Matt realizes that Lonnie is Billy Carver’s little brother and must be unaware that Billy is working for the D.A., so he and T’Challa track down the Thunderbolts gang to pull Billy out. After a brutal battle in a warehouse, the gang members are taken into police custody. Daredevil and the Black Panther take Billy to the hospital to see Lonnie, who is relieved to discover his brother has not embarked on a life of crime after all. The two superheroes then head to a nearby all-night diner to relax and get caught up.

A few days later, Daredevil is passing the New York Hilton Hotel at Rockefeller Center when he senses a large crowd of protestors confronting newly-inaugurated Vice President William E. Miller and his Secret Service detail. Deciding he doesn’t need to get involved, Daredevil heads home to his Sutton Place townhouse, where he receives a phone call from Karen. He is disappointed to learn that she is not coming back to New York, but rather wants his advice about taking a job on a film starring the legendary Buck Ralston, who’s become notorious in recent years as an extreme right-wing rabble-rouser. Matt tells her she should do the film, and Karen assures Matt that she does love him. Then, he gets a call from Foggy, summoning him to the Hilton, where the protest is getting out of hand. Matt decides he’d be more useful as Daredevil, so he heads back to Rockefeller Center in costume. When he arrives, he senses a trio of men carrying bags of dynamite and attacks them. During the fight, one of the sticks of dynamite explodes, and Daredevil is caught in the blast. Thus, he’s too dazed to intervene when the police arrest three of the protestors for the bombing instead.

The next evening, while walking through Times Square, Matt comes upon a costumed man with a 500-pound leopard at his side. When the man sics his leopard on a beat cop, Matt changes into Daredevil and intervenes. The leopard attacks Daredevil and is about to maul him when the costumed man calls the animal off. Identifying himself as Tagak, the Lord of the Leopards, the man announces that he must resume his hunt and disappears into the night. Frustrated, Daredevil returns home to treat his arm, which is badly scratched and bleeding. Several days later, Daredevil tracks down Tagak and learns he is a blind superhero from another dimension, who has come to Earth with his seeing-eye leopard Opar to track down an extradimensional cat burglar named Quothar. Thus, Daredevil and Tagak team up and track Quothar to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they capture him. Unfortunately, Opar is shot dead by the museum guards, so Daredevil must lead Tagak and his prisoner back to the warehouse where their interdimensional portal is located. Tagak invites his fellow hero to visit his world, but Daredevil declines.

Two days later, a sudden outbreak of blindness paralyzes the city and enables a gang of crooks calling themselves “the Committee” to go on a crime spree. With the help of four citizens who were already blind—pawn shop owner Doc Tinker, Vietnam vet Dutch Potter, street musician Slate, and city worker Cindy—Daredevil determines that the criminals caused the wave of temporary blindness by poisoning the city’s water supply. The sightless quartet also helps the hero apprehend the gang and turn them over to the police. Over the course of the day, the blindness wears off and the city returns to normal.

February 1965 – Matt accompanies Foggy on a state-sponsored fact-finding mission to the South American nation of Delvadia. Foggy encourages him to think of it as a paid vacation, but Matt knows the American ambassador there was kidnapped two weeks ago and thinks Daredevil might be able to rescue him. Once they arrive in Delvadia, though, Daredevil fails to prevent two more embassy officials from being kidnapped by a local revolutionary known as El Condor. Daredevil is also captured by the revolutionaries and taken to their hideout in a cave system in the mountains. When El Condor lifts off in his helicopter to attack the capital city, Daredevil breaks free and attacks him. The fight causes the helicopter to crash outside the cave, and El Condor is crushed in an ensuing avalanche. Daredevil swears the hostages to secrecy so Foggy will remain unaware of the hero’s presence in Delvadia. After a few days, Matt and Foggy complete their fact-finding mission and return to New York.

Feeling lonely, Matt agrees to have drinks with a woman from the D.A’s office named Christine. She stands him up, though, so he changes into Daredevil and goes swinging around the rooftops with his billy-club cable. Suddenly, he finds himself amidst a crowd in Central Park, unsure of how he got there. The other people seem confused as well, but Daredevil shrugs it off and heads home. As he reaches his apartment, he hears the phone ringing, but by the time he answers it, the caller has hung up.

A few days later, Daredevil is on a rooftop ruminating about the coming trial of the “New York Three” for the bombing of the Hilton Hotel. Sensing a fistfight breaking out on the sidewalk below, he swings down to intervene. However, the fighters are actually process servers, who staged their scuffle to draw him out so they could serve him a summons to appear as a witness for the defense. Later, at home, Matt receives a phone call from Foggy, who’s come down with a severe illness and may miss the start of the trial. Matt realizes he’s in a bind, as he can’t very well cross-examine his own alter-ego in a courtroom. He then calls a contact at the Daily Bugle and asks him to run a front-page appeal for witnesses to come forward. Thus, Matt spends the weekend hanging around the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village and meeting with protestors who witnessed the events outside the Hilton last month. Nothing useful comes to light, however, leaving Matt and Foggy frustrated.

When Daredevil saves a young couple from getting mugged by a trio of thugs, he finds himself drawn into a scheme to transform people into half-human / half-animal monsters. At a hidden laboratory on the Hudson River waterfront, he battles a minotaur-like creature called Bull Taurus. A chase through Hell’s Kitchen takes them to the Theater District, where Daredevil finally manages to trip Bull Taurus with his billy-club cable. The creature tumbles into a brick wall, which collapses on top of him. Luckily, the creature then changes back into a normal man and is taken into custody by the police. Daredevil limps home to nurse his wounds. Matt then has a chance to recuperate as the rest of the week is taken up with jury selection for the trial of the “New York Three.”

Early Monday morning, Matt and Foggy arrive at the courthouse for the start of the trial. They find another demonstration outside, which has brought the police out in force. Matt claims to have a migraine and asks Foggy to get started without him, as he wants to sit in the car until his head clears. Reluctantly, Foggy agrees and goes inside alone. Matt then slips off, changes into Daredevil, and takes a seat in the courtroom. However, as soon as the doors have closed, a masked man calling himself the Tribune emerges from the judge’s chambers and announces that the defendants will be tried for treason and then executed. Before Daredevil can attack him, all the policemen in the room reveal themselves to be the Tribune’s henchmen. Worried about the safety of the hostages, Daredevil agrees to take the stand and testify for the Tribune’s mockery of justice. Fortunately, Daredevil’s hypersenses detect the hum of electronics in the Tribune’s belt, so he snags the device with his billy-club cable and smashes it. The henchmen immediately emerge from a hypnotic trance, allowing Daredevil to go after the Tribune. The masked villain bolts for the roof, leaving behind a statue of “blind justice” inside which Daredevil detects a bomb. He grabs the statue and follows his foe to the roof, but is too late to stop him from taking off in a waiting helicopter. Desperate, Daredevil tosses the statue up into the helicopter, where it explodes. Unfortunately, the Tribune is killed in the explosion and his body is burned beyond recognition. His henchmen prove to have no memory of what happened to them, so the Tribune’s identity remains a mystery. As a result of the disruption, the trial is postponed.

The next evening, Daredevil comes across the Owl’s henchmen robbing Macy’s department store. During the fight, the police arrive, so the crooks make a run for it. One pulls a gun and shoots at Daredevil, but manages only to graze his forehead. Undaunted, Daredevil chases his foes down the street to where the Owl himself appears in a helicopter to pick up his men. Leaving the henchmen to be captured by the police, Daredevil leaps aboard the helicopter and fights with the Owl. The villain loses control of his craft and it crashes into the Hudson River, taking Daredevil with it. The Owl, however, manages to escape using the glider technology hidden in his cape. Tangled in the sinking wreckage, Daredevil loses consciousness. When he comes to, he is lying on a dock, but his mysterious savior is nowhere to be found. Though he tries to get some much-needed rest, Daredevil is soon drawn to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York when the Owl and his men smash their way in with an armored vehicle. When Daredevil arrives, he finds the Black Widow is already on the scene, battling the robbers. He makes short work of the henchmen, then knocks out the Owl with a punch in the face. As the police arrive, Daredevil notices that the Black Widow is annoyed with him. She reveals that it was she who rescued him from the river. However, Daredevil blacks out at that moment, and when he comes to, the Black Widow has departed. Having taken the Owl and his henchmen into custody, the police thank Daredevil for his help. He then heads home to rest and recuperate.

A couple days later, Foggy informs Matt that the case against the “New York Three” has been dismissed, as they were able to show that the bombing had been carried out by the Tribune’s hypnotized henchmen. Matt is relieved that Daredevil won’t need to testify in court after all. When news breaks of the sudden disappearance of movie star Buck Ralston, Matt realizes the film Karen was supposed to do won’t be happening. Not having heard from Karen for a while, Matt assumes their relationship is over for good. He tries to convince himself that he never really loved her anyway.

One night, Daredevil is lured to Central Park by the Scorpion, who has apparently discovered the hero’s secret identity and kidnapped the Black Widow. Though he uses some kind of ray-gun to gain the upper hand, the Scorpion suddenly goes into a trance and then makes a run for it. Daredevil tracks his foe to a skyscraper construction site, atop which he finds the Black Widow tied up. While the villain is distracted trying to contact his employer, Daredevil frees the Widow, then they attack the Scorpion. During the melee, however, the Scorpion loses his footing and falls to his death. When the police arrive on the scene, a night watchman accuses the Black Widow of murdering the Scorpion, so the officers try to take her in for questioning. Convinced that she won’t be treated fairly by the American criminal justice system, the Black Widow flees, forcing Daredevil to go after her. He catches up to her on a nearby rooftop, and when he refuses to let her go, she declares that they are now enemies. With that, Daredevil overpowers her, confiscates her weaponized bracelets, and turns her over to the police. She is furious, but Daredevil assures her he’ll put in a good word for her with the district attorney. After changing out of his costume, Matt informs the Black Widow’s chauffeur, Ivan Petrovich, that she’s been arrested. The man goes into a fit of rage, but Matt understands their fear of being persecuted for being Russian nationals.

In the morning, Matt goes to the D.A.’s office, where he finds Foggy ranting about “irresponsible vigilantes” and vowing to make an example of the Black Widow. Angered, Matt announces that he plans to serve as the Black Widow’s defense counsel and storms out. He heads over to the jail, where he tells the Black Widow that Daredevil sent him. The meeting goes well and she agrees to hire him. Matt then submits a formal letter of resignation to Foggy, giving up his position as Assistant District Attorney.

March 1965 – Two weeks later, the trial of Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow, begins. Matt wonders why Foggy has done everything he could to get the trial started as quickly as possible, when it makes it look like the defendant is being railroaded. Still, Foggy lays out a pretty tight case for the prosecution, leaving Matt frustrated. Feeling there was something strange about the Scorpion, Matt decides to break into the morgue late at night to examine the body. When Daredevil arrives, though, he is immediately attacked by Mister Hyde, who uncharacteristically starts tossing grenades around. When the villain is about to detonate a whole belt of grenades, Daredevil leaps out the nearest window. A tremendous explosion destroys the morgue, and, caught by the shockwave, Daredevil is knocked out. When he comes to, the morgue is an inferno, and both the Scorpion and Mister Hyde have been incinerated. Confused, Daredevil limps home and goes to bed.

In the morning, Matt presents Foggy with a motion to dismiss the case, and, strangely, the district attorney agrees. In court, Matt gives an impassioned speech to the jury, describing the trial as blatant persecution of his client due to her Russian heritage. He then escorts Natasha out of the courthouse and asks her to lunch. She declines, saying she needs to leave the country for a while to get her head together. Still, she leaves open the possibility that they may see each other again someday. Finding he’s become seriously infatuated with the Black Widow, Matt becomes depressed after her abrupt exit and spends much of the rest of the month going out as Daredevil and beating up criminals. Disgusted with Foggy’s recent behavior, Matt refuses to speak to his old friend and stays away from the D.A.’s office.

April 1965 – After stopping a burglary at a jewelry store, Daredevil runs into Foggy Nelson on the street. Foggy is desperate to explain his strange behavior and reveals that he’s being blackmailed by a man named Mr. Kline, who forced him to prosecute the Black Widow and then instructed him to drop the charges. When he then tried to contact Kline again, Foggy learned that the blackmailer had left the country. Daredevil’s not sure how to respond to Foggy’s self-recriminations. When he returns home, Matt receives a phone call from Natasha, asking him to join her at a ski resort in Switzerland. He agrees at once and makes his travel arrangements. But first, he decides to check out Foggy’s story. Daredevil soon finds that Kline’s mansion had been recently abandoned, and evidence found in the basement suggests some huge piece of machinery had been dismantled and moved out. Further investigation reveals that Kline chartered a cargo plane to Switzerland, but it disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Matt suspects that this Mr. Kline must have been the mysterious employer behind the Scorpion and Mister Hyde.

When he arrives in Switzerland the next day, Matt is met at the airport by Natasha and Ivan. On the way to the resort, Natasha tells Matt she’s met a Russian surgeon, Emil Borgdsky, who may be able to cure his blindness. However, when Matt meets Borgdsky at the chalet, his hypersenses provide some very strange impressions, convincing Matt that the man is not what he seems. After dinner, Natasha joins Matt in his room, and some intimate conversation soon yields to several hours of mind-blowing sex. Later, after Natasha has made a discrete exit, Matt senses Borgdsky outside, hiking into the mountains. Quickly donning his costume, Daredevil follows the man to a strange, high-tech installation, where he learns that Borgdsky is, in fact, Mister Kline. Eavesdropping on Kline’s conversation with his “master,” a computerized voice calling itself “Baal,” Daredevil is shocked to discover that Kline is really a robot sent back from 12,000 years in the future to prevent Foggy from running for governor of New York. Just then, Kline detects Daredevil’s presence and attacks him. During the fight, Kline confirms the hero’s suspicions that he had used android replicas of the Scorpion and Mister Hyde, and also reveals that he had employed the Owl and was also targeting Tony Stark for some reason. The Black Widow arrives on the scene just as Kline starts to malfunction due to the damage Daredevil has inflicted. She convinces Daredevil to make a run for it, and seconds after they get outside, the installation is destroyed in a tremendous explosion that triggers a massive avalanche. However, Daredevil and the Black Widow are saved by two shiny robots who appear suddenly and teleport them to safety. Telling them to enjoy their lives together, the two robots just as suddenly vanish. Bewildered, the heroes hike back down the mountain to the resort. Daredevil admits to Natasha that he is Matt Murdock, and they spend the next three weeks having a torrid romance.

May 1965 – Matt and Natasha spend several days in London, England, before deciding to head home to New York City. Unfortunately, their transatlantic flight is hijacked by the Gladiator and four hired henchmen. Natasha and Ivan provide a distraction that enables Matt to slip into a bathroom and change into Daredevil. After fighting with the hijackers, Daredevil and the Black Widow are forced to surrender when they discover the henchmen have bombs strapped to their chests. The heroes are tied up, but Daredevil is freed by a helpful passenger. Hoping to ingratiate himself with the overprotective Ivan, Daredevil leaves Natasha tied up and goes to defeat the hijackers on his own. Natasha is, of course, furious. Daredevil is able to take the henchmen out one by one, then attacks the Gladiator in the cockpit. In the struggle, the instrument panel is damaged and, after the Gladiator is knocked out, Daredevil must bring the plane in for an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. In the subsequent confusion, Daredevil is able to switch back to Matt Murdock. A little later, as Matt, Natasha, and Ivan are walking through the airport terminal, Karen Page suddenly comes running up and embraces Matt. As they kiss, Matt realizes he is still in love with Karen, despite his attraction to Natasha. Karen introduces her agent, Phil Hichock, whom she’s obviously been dating, and says they were about to catch a flight back to Los Angeles. Matt asks her to stay in New York and Karen agrees. Natasha and Ivan make their excuses and leave, and Matt takes Karen back to his apartment to have make-up sex.

Over the next week or two, Daredevil wages an all-out war on crime in New York while also making up for lost time with Karen. Remaining committed to her acting career, Karen convinces Matt to move out to Los Angeles with her, and he finally agrees. Matt and Karen then announce their engagement. Shortly after, they attend a lavish party hosted by the well-known socialite Raymond Carter. Natasha, Ivan, Foggy, and Phil Hichock are also in attendance, which proves awkward for all concerned. Matt overhears that Natasha is planning to relocate to San Francisco, then Foggy pulls him aside and explains that Mister Kline had been blackmailing him with incriminating papers he’d been given to sign by Mason Hollis last year, before discovering that Hollis was the mob boss known as Crime-Wave. Foggy is ready to give in to calls for him to resign following the botched trial of the Black Widow, but Matt convinces him to stay on as district attorney and make up for his past mistakes through public service. Matt is then about to apologize to Natasha for ditching her at the airport, but the Ox suddenly smashes through a window and attacks Foggy. Matt is confused, as he was sure the Ox had died after falling off a 20-story building a year and a half ago. He slips off, changes into Daredevil, and swings through the window to draw the villain away from Foggy. Unfortunately, the Ox is surrounded by a strange aura that occludes Daredevil’s radar sense, giving the villain a chance to knock Daredevil out with a powerful backhand.

When he comes to several hours later, Matt finds himself on his sofa. Karen is there, but she rushes out for a meeting with a producer. Annoyed, Matt puts his mask back on and goes to hunt down the Ox. He soon finds his foe barricaded inside an armory with the police surrounding the building. Ignoring the officers’ objections, Daredevil enters the armory and confronts the Ox. The villain insists that it was really Karl Stragg who died, after somehow exchanging bodies with the Ox. Trapped in Stragg’s body, the Ox was sent to prison, where he was irradiated during a botched experiment. Terminally ill, he was released from prison, he explains, but the radiation then caused him to mutate into a simulacrum of his true form. Realizing the radiation in the Ox’s body is building to critical levels, Daredevil leaps out a window. However, he is caught in the blast as the Ox explodes, hitting his head on a wall. Groggy, Daredevil makes his way home to recuperate, and grows bitter when Karen is gone all the rest of the day. When she finally returns that evening, they admit that they’ve been fooling themselves and the love they once felt is gone. Matt and Karen share a parting kiss, then she leaves to return to Hollywood. Matt reconnects with Natasha, who’s willing to give him a second chance, and they start dating again.

June–August 1965 – Matt and Natasha get to know each other better as they rekindle their romance. They also occasionally fight crime together as Daredevil and the Black Widow. Toward the end of the summer, Natasha convinces Matt to move out to San Francisco with her. Feeling he needs a change of scene, Matt is ready to leave New York behind and start a new chapter in his life.

September 1965 – Matt, Natasha, and Ivan move into a furnished townhouse on San Francisco’s north shore. After spending the day unpacking, Matt goes exploring the city as Daredevil before meeting Natasha for dinner. When she arrives at the restaurant, Natasha notices a strange glow emanating from Coit Memorial Tower up on Telegraph Hill, so they decide to check it out. Accustomed to working alone, Matt tries to get Natasha to stay behind, but she insists that they’re equal partners. Thus, Daredevil and the Black Widow head up to the tower, where they find Electro menacing the police. Fearing the officers will be electrocuted, Daredevil pushes past them and attacks Electro, quickly driving the supervillain away. San Francisco Police Commissioner Robert “Ironguts” O’Hara, who arrives on the scene, is not happy to have a pair of “New York superhero types” horning in on his territory, though, and warns them that he won’t tolerate vigilantes. Nevertheless, Daredevil spends the next week establishing himself as a crimefighter in the city. At the same time, Natasha becomes strangely distracted after receiving a visit from a mysterious man called Danny French.

Ivan becomes concerned about Natasha’s behavior and confides in Matt, explaining how he saved Natasha from a burning building during the siege of Stalingrad in the autumn of 1942 and became a surrogate father to her. Natasha interrupts them and declares that Danny French is none of their business, then storms out. Concerned, Matt changes into Daredevil and follows her, but gets sidetracked by a robbery in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Daredevil soon realizes he’s in bigger trouble than he bargained for when he discovers that the robbers are being controlled by his old foe Killgrave, the Purple Man. Killgrave orders a group of bystanders to attack Daredevil, and they overwhelm the hero and beat him into unconsciousness. When he comes to, Daredevil finds himself a prisoner of the Purple Man, and listens helplessly to his foe’s gloating. Luckily, Ivan breaks down the door, tosses in a tear-gas grenade, and hauls Daredevil out of there before Killgrave can recover. As they make their way home, Daredevil berates himself for his abysmal failure. In the days that follow, he tries to track down Killgrave, without success.

October 1965 – Matt receives a phone call from the U.S. Air Force informing him that the Hulk has been captured and is to be put on trial. The Hulk’s alter-ego, Bruce Banner, has requested that Matt represent him. He heads at once to San Francisco International Airport and boards a plane to Las Vegas, where Banner is being held at a special military containment facility. There, Matt meets the officer in charge, General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross, and confers with his new client. However, Banner is so sedated he is barely coherent, and Matt worries he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. The next morning, Ross and his staff fly Matt and Banner to New York aboard an Air Force 747 jumbo jet, and Matt argues with Ross about the high dosage of tranquilizers being used. Worried about a mistrial, Ross finally relents and orders a stimulant be administered. However, as Banner comes out of his stupor, he becomes so agitated that he turns into the Hulk. Matt is able to keep the Hulk calm, though, until the plane lands. Then, Hulk smashes out through the fuselage, only to find the Fantastic Four waiting for him on the tarmac. Matt slips off and changes into Daredevil to try to help recapture the Hulk. Spider-Man also shows up to lend a hand, but in the end, Mister Fantastic knocks out the Hulk with some kind of ray-gun. Matt then heads over to the district attorney’s office and consults with Foggy on the case.

Just three days later, Matt heads to the New York County Courthouse for jury selection, concerned that the courts are rushing the case to trial due to the danger of keeping the Hulk confined in the city. Mister Fantastic meets Matt outside and informs him that he’s working desperately on a cure for the Hulk, but may not have enough time to complete his experiments. The next morning, the trial begins, with the federal prosecutor presenting a straightforward case against the Hulk, who is bound and gagged in a wheeled titanium chair. Matt’s objections to the Hulk’s treatment are overruled. The prosecution rests by lunchtime, and Matt is given the afternoon to present the case for the defense. He first calls the Avengers to testify, but the judge determines that their views have no bearing on the case. Next, Matt calls the Hulk to testify in his own defense, hoping he can show that the brute is mentally incompetent. Despite the Hulk’s limited intellect, the judge denies Matt’s motion and orders that the trial proceed. Stymied, Matt rests his case, intending to appeal to a higher court. However, Mister Fantastic enters the courtroom then and claims to have a device that will change the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. The judge allows him to try it, but the device merely gives the Hulk the burst of strength he needs to break free of his bonds and escape. Matt suspects that Mister Fantastic knew that would happen, but the scientist refuses to confirm or deny his suspicions. After having dinner with Foggy, Matt catches a red-eye flight back to San Francisco.

Daredevil immediately resumes his search for Killgrave, but after a few days he manages only to have another run-in with the villain’s henchmen. Returning home afterwards, Matt receives a call from an old friend from law school, Larry Cranston, who offers Matt a position at his law firm. Matt says he’ll consider it, but then gets off the phone to confront Natasha about her strange behavior of late. She will only reveal that she and Danny French were involved in something called “Project Four” several years ago, and she’s afraid it will come back to haunt her. Claiming to be tired, Natasha goes to bed, but Matt later realizes she’s snuck out of the house. Changing into Daredevil, he goes after her, but when he catches up to her, Natasha says that she has to deal with this situation on her own. Daredevil turns the tables on her by reminding her that they’re equal partners now. Suddenly, they are attacked by Electro and the Purple Man in a hovercraft. Daredevil leaps aboard the hovercraft and attacks Killgrave, leaving the Black Widow to fight Electro. The ship goes out of control and crashes into a building, exploding in a huge fireball. Daredevil leaps clear and rejoins the Black Widow, finding she has just defeated Electro. Killgrave’s body is not found in the wreckage, and the police assume he was incinerated.

A few days later, after she starts having inexplicable panic attacks, Natasha tells Matt and Ivan more about Project Four. She reveals that Danny French was her contact in Los Angeles for her first espionage mission outside the Soviet Union, back in 1958. They broke into a private research installation in Nevada to steal a strange levitating sphere. To cover their escape, French threw a gas grenade, which, to their shock, proved to be a deadly toxin. Realizing they’d been betrayed by their handlers, French took the globe and went underground, later becoming a mercenary. Now, Natasha fears that the Project Four sphere makes Danny French a very dangerous man. When Daredevil starts having similar panic attacks, Natasha assumes French is responsible. However, Daredevil recognizes it as the handiwork of his late foe, Mister Fear, who was murdered by Starr Saxon last November. When Matt visits the law offices of Broderick, Sloan, and Cranston to discuss their job offer, he detects the telltale scent of Mister Fear’s old fear-gas on Larry Cranston. Sure enough, Cranston proves himself to be the new Mister Fear when he attacks Daredevil that very night, using a jetpack for optimum maneuverability. Mister Fear boasts that Daredevil’s relationship with the Black Widow made it obvious that he is Matt Murdock. The villain’s next intended victim, his law partner Jason Sloan, arrives on the scene, but Daredevil knocks Sloan out before Cranston can expose his secret identity. As they fight, Cranston admits to Daredevil that he stumbled upon the dying Zoltan Drago last year and learned where to find Mister Fear’s cache of costumes and equipment. Cranston was inspired to get revenge on all the people who’d ever made him look bad. Suddenly, Mister Fear punches Daredevil in the face and jumps off the roof, intending to escape using his jetpack. Unfortunately, he’d lost the jetpack during the fight and plummets to his death. Matt returns home, only to discover that the Black Widow has disappeared.

After waiting most of the next day for word from Natasha, Matt and Ivan decide to go out searching for her. They split up, with Ivan heading downtown while Daredevil canvasses Chinatown. Though briefly distracted with stopping the robbery of a convenience store, Daredevil searches all night, but has no luck locating the Black Widow. He finally returns home shortly before dawn and falls asleep in a chair. Ivan wakes him up a few hours later and reports a similar lack of success. However, another problem presents itself when a local TV news reporter speculates on the air that, given their close relationship with the infamous Black Widow, Matt Murdock and Daredevil are likely the same man. Hoping to salvage his secret identity, Matt immediately phones the Black Panther in New York and asks him to come pose as Daredevil. When T’Challa arrives, he dons Daredevil’s costume with a latex facemask, then waits outside for the inevitable assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Matt goes off to search for Natasha in his civilian identity. Several hours later, Matt hears a report that “Daredevil” is battling a martial-arts master known as the Blue Talon back at the house, so he takes a taxi home, finding numerous police cars and TV news crews on the scene. Finding Commissioner O’Hara, Matt introduces himself. The fight ends when the Blue Talon accidentally ruptures a gas main and blows himself up. “Daredevil” then joins Matt out on the street, where the attorney is telling the story of the death of Mike Murdock and his replacement by a second Daredevil who still watches out for his predecessor’s blind brother. O’Hara and the reporters seem to be buying it hook, line, and sinker, so Matt breathes a sigh of relief. Later, T’Challa drops off Matt’s Daredevil costume and heads back to New York.

Matt spends most of the next day researching Project Four, then goes out as Daredevil in the evening to continue searching for Natasha. Suddenly, the Black Widow attacks him, clearly under the influence of some form of mind-control. Daredevil is able to knock her out quickly and carries her home, where Ivan becomes infuriated to learn all that Matt has discovered about Project Four. Determining that Natasha had been held prisoner in Oakland, Matt decides to call Jason Sloan and ask if he knows anyone in the Oakland area who is very rich and “potentially dangerous.” Sloan tells Matt about Damon Dran, a former munitions magnate who’s become extremely paranoid about nuclear war. Matt decides to check out Dran’s estate in Berkeley, and when he arrives, Daredevil finds the place is a veritable fortress. The hero’s hypersenses lead him to an underground bunker, where he discovers Damon Dran in a strange suit of armor, weirdly mutated by the Project Four sphere, holding Danny French prisoner. Dran attacks Daredevil with disintegrator beams, wrecking his own equipment and setting the place on fire. After damaging Dran’s armor, Daredevil rescues French and gets him out of the bunker before the place explodes. However, Dran emerges from the rubble, having grown to giant-size, with the Project Four sphere levitating beside him. No match for Dran’s newfound power, Daredevil and French take cover in the trees. Unable to find them, Dran stalks off toward the city, intent on bringing the human race to its knees. Daredevil and French then rendezvous with Natasha and Ivan at the townhouse, where they watch TV news coverage of Dran’s slow but steady progress across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the face of heavy resistance from National Guard troops. Finally, the Black Widow leads the three men out to stop Dran before he makes it across the bridge. Daredevil and the Black Widow attack Dran, who proves to be invulnerable until the Project Four sphere suddenly explodes. They are then able to bring Dran down, and he screams in agony as the strange energies in his body consume him. Though the battle is won, Daredevil and the Black Widow are horrified to learn that Danny French sacrificed himself to destroy the sphere with a makeshift javelin. Having redeemed himself, the former spy and mercenary dies in Natasha’s arms.

November 1965 – Matt finally accepts Jason Sloan’s job offer and is given Larry Cranston’s old office. The firm’s name is changed to Broderick, Sloan, and Murdock, Attorneys-at-Law, though Matt has yet to meet the semi-retired senior partner, Kerwin J. Broderick. After work one day, Matt returns home to find that Natasha and Ivan have been attacked by a minotaur-like creature who called himself the Man-Bull. Matt realizes it must be Bull Taurus back for revenge. He changes into Daredevil, then goes out with the Black Widow to hunt their foe down. Along the way, he fills the Widow in on his encounter with the Man-Bull back in February. They soon find the monstrous crook robbing a jewelry store and attack him. During the fight, though, Daredevil is shot in the shoulder by a sniper and blacks out from the pain. He regains consciousness later in a hospital bed. Natasha is there, as well as Commissioner O’Hara, who admires Daredevil’s bravery in spite of himself. Revealing that the Man-Bull escaped, Natasha leaves to track him down on her own. Daredevil struggles to get out of bed, but is too weak. A few hours later, while being interviewed by a TV news reporter, Daredevil learns that there has been an outbreak of strange mutations reminiscent of the Man-Bull, and he realizes the creature’s creator is trying his scheme again. Daredevil drags himself out of the hospital and meets up with a friend on the police force, Lt. Paul Carson, who agrees to lend a hand.

At dawn, Daredevil and Lt. Carson find the Man-Bull and his creator at a waterfront warehouse in Sausalito. They are arguing over their ransom scheme, with the Man-Bull refusing to turn the antidote over to their victims. Daredevil leaps down and attacks the criminals, but the fight does not go well due to his shoulder wound. Even so, Daredevil manages to tangle the Man-Bull up in a rope attached to an anchor and knock him off the pier into the water. When the Man-Bull does not resurface, Daredevil assumes he’s drowned. Lt. Carson arrests the scientist, who surrenders the antidote. Daredevil then learns that the Black Widow was gored by the Man-Bull’s horns and has been hospitalized. He meets up with Ivan at the emergency room and is relieved to learn Natasha is expected to recover.

December 1965 – Due to their injuries, Daredevil and the Black Widow are out of action for the remainder of the year. Matt settles into his new job, accounting for his injuries by saying the Man-Bull came after him for revenge, since he helped the New York District Attorney prosecute Bull Taurus back in February. He credits his buddy Daredevil with saving him. In the evenings, Matt recuperates at the townhouse, where Natasha works on her fashion designs and does some networking in the local fashion industry. Matt, Natasha, and Ivan then celebrate Christmas together and look forward to what adventures the new year will bring.


Notes:

January–February 1965 – Daredevil’s adventures continue in Daredevil #66 and following. The extended timeframe of the trial of the “New York Three” in Daredevil #70–71 causes this story to interweave with subsequent issues, so that the showdown with the Tribune, who is really Buck Ralston in disguise, actually occurs after DD’s battles with Tagak, the Committee, El Condor, and Man-Bull. The Vice-President is drawn to look like Spiro Agnew, but this is merely a topical reference. For more information on Vice President Miller, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three. In Daredevil #77, Matt’s memories of his encounter with Spider-Man and the Sub-Mariner are erased by Princess Tuvia when she departs for her home dimension. The phone call Matt misses at the end of the issue is from Karen, who’s trying to let him know she’ll be in New York. Interestingly, in Daredevil #82, Matt says to himself that he’s been Daredevil for four years, even though the series has been running for 7½ years. This is an early indication of “Marvel Time” and evidence that the “sliding timescale” has gone into effect. In the OMU, Matt has been fighting crime as Daredevil for less than 2½ years at this point.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Daredevil finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

April 1965 – The sexual nature of Daredevil’s relationship with the Black Widow is glossed over in the original comics, due to the censorious Comics Code Authority. For Natasha’s perspective on these events, see my Black Widow Chronology.

October 1965 – Matt briefly returns to New York for the trial of the Hulk in Hulk #152–153, which is Daredevil’s only appearance outside his own title during this period. At the end of Daredevil #89, Killgrave actually survives the crash and relocates to an underground base out in the desert, as seen in his next appearance. With issue #92, the series’ cover title was changed to Daredevil and the Black Widow, as part of Marvel’s 1972 push to expand their female readership. The company’s new quasi-feminist titles, Claws of the Cat, Night Nurse, and Shanna the She-Devil, would debut in the next two months. However, they were all cancelled within a year, and a few months later the cover title reverted to Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. Though Damon Dran seemingly dies at the end of Daredevil #94, he actually survives, as revealed in the Black Widow story in Marvel Fanfare #13.

November 1965 – The Man-Bull also survives his apparent death and moves to Chicago, as revealed in his next appearance. This brings us up to Daredevil #96.


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