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Amazing Spider-Friends: Daredevil

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Amazing Spider-Friends is a twice-monthly column, written by contributor Tyler Barlass, that highlights the rich and complex relationships that Spider-Man has built with just about every character in the Marvel Universe through the years.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of everybody’s favorite blind, swashbuckling adventurer. It was April of 1964 when Daredevil was introduced to the Marvel age of comics. Sporting a garish yellow and black costume, Daredevil served as a blind lawyer by day and a vigilante in New York’s seedy Hell’s Kitchen by night. From his inception, Daredevil has always had a lot in common with our good friend Spider-Man. Daredevil’s very first issue even featured the web-head on its cover. So, since this is a Spider-Man fan site, let’s take some time to examine Daredevil’s mostly fraternal (though sometimes tumultuous) relationship with Spidey over the years.

dd1As so often happens, Spider-Man and Daredevil’s first couple of run-ins resulted in gratuitous tussles based on misunderstandings (and a little hypnotism). The first time that Daredevil and Spidey ever crossed paths was within the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #16. The terrible Ringmaster planned to rob an entire crowd at a circus show by hypnotizing the audience with his swirly hat. The trick worked on everyone, except for the sightless Matt Murdock. It even worked on Spider-Man, who just so happened to be at the circus showboating.

With only Daredevil able to save the day, the crusader confronted a hypnotized Spider-Man and the two exchanged blows for the first time. Eventually, Daredevil was able to elude his future friend and steal Ringmaster’s hat which he used to reverse the hypnosis on the wall-crawler. After a hearty handshake, the two heroes parted ways and would not meet again until after Daredevil made a wise wardrobe choice and switched over to his familiar all red uniform.

The next meeting between the heroes took place during the events of Daredevil #16. Though it may be best remembered for giving John Romita the chance to pencil Spider-Man for the first time, it also happened to be an exciting yarn in its own right. What originally started off as an off-beat plan by the Masked Marauder to pit Spider-Man against Daredevil, eventually led to a bunch of minions dressing up in Daredevil’s scarlet duds, Spidey going berserk on Foggy Nelson and finally the wall-crawler exchanging fisticuffs with the “Man Without Fear.” In true superhero fashion, the two masked vigilantes ultimately put their differences aside to stop the Marauder’s devious scheme.

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Over the next decade plus, Daredevil and Spider-Man would team-up in more friendly terms against such common foes as the Owl, Electro and Blizzard. Peter even traveled to San Francisco at one point during Daredevil’s West coast exploits. Having originally traveled to the bay area to interview his old ally for the Daily Bugle, Pete would be forced to don his red and blues so that he could aid Daredevil and the Black Widow against the powerful Ramrod. The most significant event in the relationship between Daredevil and Spider-Man though would be the time when Matt finally figured out Pete’s secret.

Early in Peter David’s memorable run on Spectacular Spider-Man, Matt Murdock discovered Spider-Man’s identity by recognizing that he and Peter Parker shared the same heartbeat. This discovery took place at a time when a serial killer going by the name Sin Eater was at large in the New York area. After joining forces, Daredevil and Spider-Man made the surprising discovery that NY police detective Stan Carter was the man behind the ski mask. Once Spider-Man confronted Carter, he was so blinded by anger that he ruthlessly attacked the cold-blooded murderer. Fearing that Pete might end up killing Carter, Daredevil attempted to pull the hot-blooded hero off of Sin Eater. A fight ensued and after a few rounds of trading punches and philosophizing about the judicial system, Daredevil finally decided to reveal his secret identity to Pete.

DD8Following their exchange of secrets, Daredevil and Spider-Man were mostly portrayed as sharing a brotherly relationship in future encounters. Their strong bond was probably best exemplified in a scene in Daredevil (vol. 2) #8 where Peter consoled a downtrodden Matt after the death of Karen Page.

There were instances in which this mostly solid relationship was strained though. Peter and Matt had quite the disagreement during the ‘80s “Gang War” saga, stemming from Daredevil’s strict legalistic approach.  Fearing that Spider-Man’s interference in the gang war was doing more harm that good, Matt diverted Pete’s attention from the Kingpin by dressing up in a fat suit. Needles to say, a brawl ensued. More recently, Daredevil and Spider-Man fought yet again, this time within the confines of Daredevil’s fortress known as Shadowland. Not hypnotism, but demon possession was responsible for that spat.

dd22Team-ups between Daredevil and the Superior Spider-Man haven’t necessarily been civil either. In what was one of Doc Ock’s first adventures as the new Spider-Man, the good doctor tracked down and attacked Daredevil, believing him to be a menace. Even as I write this, we are in the middle of what will presumably be the last team-up between Spider-Ock and Matt Murdock in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #9 and#10.

It’s been half a century since Spider-Man and Daredevil first tangled and it’s hard to argue all these years later that their relationship hasn’t grown into one of the very best and most unique in all of the Marvel Universe. Even the infamous mind-wiping hocus that erased Matt’s knowledge of Peter’s identity hasn’t dampened the fortitude of this bond. With promises of Peter Parker returning to the land of the living later this year, let’s hope that the friendship and camaraderie between these two characters continues on for many years to come.

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