There and Back Again selects a character to highlight, then showcases iconic stories and moments within that character’s history.
Written By: Frank Miller
Art By: John Romita Jr.
Published: October, 1993 – February 1994, by Marvel Comics
Daredevil is easily my favorite hero in the comic universe. There’s something about using a perceived weakness as the foundation upon which a hero is born, that speaks to me. Sure, he’s an unstoppable ninja dressed like evil incarnate, but it’s his ability to find strength in the worst of times that made him the hero of my heart. As for Daredevil stories, there can be no greater exploration of Daredevil’s strength to fight against tragedy, than Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.’s: Daredevil: The Man Without Fear.
I don’t know if there’s another character who’s had more punishment inflicted upon them than Daredevil. His life is one tragedy made worse by the next. Yet, it’s not his enhanced senses or sonar sight that makes him a hero, it’s the strength of the man using them. What we see in “The Man Without Fear,” is a man who’s life pummels every ounce of joy and happiness that could be found in a person, and through that, a hero is born.
First, Matt loses his sight when he pushes a blind man out of the way of a speeding truck that was carrying radioactive chemicals. This same truck crashes and little Matt ends up catching those chemicals with his eyeballs. Then, because blindness isn’t horrible enough, those same chemicals flip the switch to maximum on every other sense he has.
Now, super senses might sound cool, but when that weird neighbor cooks their odd smelling meal that smells like foot and onions, those “superpowers” suddenly crank that up a thousand times. For Matt, each heartbeat becomes a thunderous drum, every cigarette strangles out every ounce of fresh air.
For most, these “superpowers” would cause us to move to the quiet wilderness, where only the aroma of fresh air, wild flowers, and the occasional animal dump would intrude. For Matt however, what comes next is his father’s murder, which Matt is forced to watch because his new powers force him to see, smell, and hear every horrific moment. After this comes Stick, a man who helps Matt control his abilities. Unfortunately Stick abandons him because Matt accidentally has an emotion one day.
Fast forward a few years, and Matt ends up meeting the love of his life in college, Elektra Natchios, turns out to be a psychopathic assassin who hears voices telling her to kill. Matt devotes himself to her right before she leaves him without the smallest of explanations. It’s at this point when you start to think that life might hate this guy. Although, things have to get better right? Sure.
Matt graduates and gets a job offer from a huge law firm in Boston. Congrats Matt, something good happened. This job sends Matt to New York for business, and during his return he meets a young girl living on the streets and befriends her. Wow, that’s really nice, things are actually going well for Matt.
The two fix up the gym, do a little punching bag training, and just before Matt heads back to Boston, Mickey get’s kidnapped by a child trafficking ring, which really seems more fitting for Matt’s life than happiness, or joy, or even a good day.
It’s at this point when the man who’s been through hell his whole life decides good days aren’t coming on their own, he’s going to have to fight for one. He slaps on a mask, clutches a cane in hand, claims the name Daredevil, and wages a war on the child traffickers, all in one night. Mickey is going to be saved, or as Daredevil discovers, Mickey and about fifty other children who’re all locked up in a warehouse ready to be shipped off.
No matter the loss, no matter the suffering, Daredevil is the hero who turns pain into power. For fans who may not have read this, I can’t recommend it enough, and for those who may be considering Daredevil, this is the book I put into the hands of a possible fan. It gives you the very foundation of the character, and you get to see this hero, in his beginnings, as he figures out how to fight back against his own life.