On April 10th, time will stand still…….okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. April 10th is a very special day for those of us out there who are Fans Without Fear….and have a Netflix accout. All 13 episodes of Marvel’s Daredevil, the Netflix Original series about blind lawyer/vigilante Matt Murdock will be available for binge watch consumption. While it’s only a week away, it’s hard to wait when you’re this excited. To help tide you over, I will be showcasing some great DD comics and history right up until the week the series premieres, featuring a look at the greatest comic stories, hidden gems and an in depth look into the characters from Hell’s Kitchen! Come join me on this journey and find out why Daredevil may just be the best street level hero that comics (and fandom in general) has ever seen.
This week I thought it would be good to take a look at some of the supporting players in this upcoming Netflix saga. It appears that most of the major characters from the Daredevil canon will be making an appearance (No Bullseye or Elektra but that might be for the best seeing as how neither had a good go round the last time they were live action). What tidbits from their comic book counter parts will make it to the screen? That’s a mystery that will be answered soon. Right now, we can only speculate.
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #50 (created by Stan Lee & John Romita)
Batman has the Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. Spider-Man has Norman Osborn. Daredevil has Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. The Kingpin of Crime. The difference between DD and the rest of these heroes is that their nemesis was made for them. Not the case for Matt Murdock as The Kingpin was created to be just another Spider-villain in a sea of baddies. That all changed when Frank Miller needed a crime boss to take over the New York underworld. In the 4 part Gang War storyline during Miller’s first run on the book, after believing his wife to be dead, Wilson Fisk returns from Japan, turns the crime families against each other and takes over. Enlisting the services of Bullseye and Elektra, he finds himself at war with the blind vigilante and soon becomes obsessed with his demise. This leads him to find out the secret identity of Daredevil and dismantle his life piece by piece (in the classic Born Again by Miller and David Mazzucchelli). Murdock would return the favour years later by letting HYDRA take most of Fisk’s empire (compliments of Ann Nocenti in the Last Rites arc).
Fisk’s obsession with Daredevil would lead to them both getting incarcerated at Rykers Island where they would briefly team up in order to avoid death in a prison riot. The alliance would be short lived as Murdock doesn’t agree to having Bullseye aid them in breaking out. These days, Kinpin’s focus has been more on the city of New York as opposed to one particular hero. He’s tussled with Spider-Man and Black Panther in recent years, but only in attempts to regain control of the city’s underworld.
What’s great about Fisk is that like all noble villains, he sees himself as the good guy. Only he can run New York because he knows what’s best for it. Based on what we’ve seen so far in previews of the series, Vincent D’onofrio’s portrayal will see Kingpin taking that to the next level as he attempts to be the city’s protector as well as its ruler.
First Appearance: Daredevil #1 (created by Stan Lee & Bill Everett)
In Matt Murdock’s long line of love interests, Karen Page has the honor of being the one who stayed in the picture the longest. Starting out as a simple secretary for the law firm of Nelson and Murdock, Karen has had the bumpiest ride of any of the tortured souls who’ve popped up in the pages of Daredevil. During her time working for Matt, she is a typical damsel in distress, who is captured on a number of occasions only to be saved by Daredevil time and time again. After she and Daredevil are almost killed by her father, Paxton Page (also known by the handle of Death’s-Head), Matt reveals his true identity to her. They remain a couple for a time but Karen finds it difficult as she’s always worrying for Matt’s safety. Shortly after this, Karen leaves Matt to pursue a career in acting. She stars on a soap opera, get’s cast in a film with Johnny Blaze (Ghost Rider) and all appears to be going good for her.
She eventually falls upon hard times and becomes an heroin addict. This leads her to make some terrible choices including becoming a porn star to support her addiction. Penniless and in need of a fix, Karen sells the one piece of currency she has left: Daredevil’s secret identity. With nowhere else to go and feeling guilty that she sold out her former love, she returns to New York. Matt forgives her and helps her get clean. This leads to them rekindling their relationship.
Karen pops in and out of Matt’s life for the next several years as he makes some mistakes of his own (sleeping with Typhoid Mary to name one). Realizing that her past will always be a barrier in advancing their relationship, Karen eventually decides to break up with Matt and take a talk show host job on the west coast. If only this were the end of Karen’s story. Sadly it isn’t as she gets dragged back into Matt’s life during the Guardian Devil story arc and meets her demise at the hands of Daredevil’s other arch rival, Bullseye. Her death haunts the comic to this day as Daredevil still tries to deal with the loss.
While her character was never really shown in a super positive light, I’m hoping the Karen we see is influenced by the work of Ann Nocenti. It was during her run that Karen stood on her own two feet and stood up for herself instead of being the damsel in distress of the early days or the wounded woman of the Miller years. If there’s one thing Matt Murdock needs, it’s a woman who can set him straight when he starts to act like his usually insane self.
First Appearance: Daredevil #1 (created by Stan Lee & Bill Everett)
If there’s one thing that we can all hope for in life, it’s to have a friend like Foggy Nelson. Nobody’s been a better example of a true best friend in the world of comics…..possibly in fiction period. While there have been many occasions where Matt and Foggy have had misunderstandings and fallings out, Foggy’s always ended up being there for his friend when he needs him. He’s also not afraid to tell Matt off when he needs to hear it. His friendship and loyalty to Murdock is all the more amazing when you take into consideration that knowing Matt has brought him nothing but misfortune.
Their friendship began in college when Matt stood up for Foggy and eventually helped tutor him through law school. After they each passed the bar, they started up the firm of Nelson and Murdock, hiring Karen Page as their secretary. Foggy found himself smitten with Karen but she, of course, was in love with Matt. This would be the first of many instances of Foggy living in Matt’s shadow. A string of bad luck would follow him over the years where he would almost be assassinated by Elektra (hey, wasn’t she Matt’s girlfriend in college?), would lose the firm due to questionable evidence against Matt, and would even have to fake his death and go into witness protection to keep him safe from those who were trying to get to Daredevil through him.
In recent years, during the current comic series by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, Foggy has had to face his biggest challenge yet as he’s been battling cancer. With Daredevil’s identity now public, Nelson has once again had to fake his death to keep himself safe from those who would try to get at Matt through him. He now lives in secret with Matt in San Francisco where he is undergoing treatment.
Much like D’onofrio as Wilson Fisk, Elden Henson is perfect casting for the role of Foggy. He sports the “everyman” look and a positive demeanor necessary for the part. I feel that this could be the character to steal the show if done right.
Night Nurse / Claire Temple
First Appearance: Claire Temple – Luke Cage: Hero for Hire #2 (created by Archie Goodwin and George Tuska)
First Appearance: Night Nurse – Night Nurse #1 (written by Jean Thomas and drawn by Winslow Mortimer)
This role is interesting as she’s a bit of a hybrid of two characters from the comics. When Jeph Loeb announced the character that Rosario Dawson would be playing, he said “she’s a nurse who works at night.” Claire Temple has been around in the comics for years….but not as the Night Nurse. When Temple debuted in the pages of the Luke Cage comic, she was a nurse at a storefront clinic on 42nd street. Originally a love interest for Luke Cage, she would eventually tire of him always being in danger and end the relationship. Claire would continue her pursuits in medicine and become a doctor, operating in the New York area.
Night Nurse is a character who originally appeared in the pages in the 1960s comic Linda Carter, Student Nurse (created by Stan “The Man” Lee and Al Hartley). The character would be repackaged in the 70s under the name of Night Nurse. Linda is a nurse working the night shift at the Metro General Hospital. But that’s not all she is as she uses her keen detection skills to solves crimes. The series wouldn’t last and the character would remain unused for decades. That is until Brian Michael Bendis would bring the her back within the pages of his Daredevil run. In this incarnation, Night Nurse runs a secret clinic for superheroes in need of medical attention. Daredevil would use her facility on more than one occasion to heal up. She also would have a relationship with Dr. Strange (as seen in both Brian K. Vaughan’s Dr. Strange: The Oath and Bendis’ New Avengers).
Due to the fact that this is an amalgam character, I’m not sure what to expect. With Rosario Dawson in the role, I know that we’ll see a good performance at least.
So that’s my take on each of the characters. Hopefully this shed some light for any Daredevil noobs out there and acted as a refresher for former readers without fear. I can’t wait to see what each of these actors have done with such interesting characters. A hero is defined by those he keeps company with and so far, it looks as though Matt Murdock is in good company.
Marvel’s Daredevil debuts on Netflix April 10th.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!