My Friends let me share with you the amazing story telling feats of comic artisan Mark Waid. In Mr. Waid we find a man capable of taking two very different heroes and simultaneously writing them in a fascinating new perspective. Waid brings us Daredevil, a master of stealth, finesse, and flipping across the rooftops of skyscrapers, and the Hulk, master of being strongest there is and bringing the skyscrapers crumbling to the ground. These are definitely two heroes who stand at different ends of the power set spectrum, but as I read these two characters through Waid’s eyes I see striking similarities between them.
Both heroes struggle with identity. Daredevil with the fact that his secret identity as Matt Murdock was leaked and he desperately tries to rebuild it. Dr. Bruce banner struggles to build an identity for himself as a scientist all along using the other side of his identity, the Hulk, to aid Shield.
Waid begins Here Comes Daredevil by retelling the events that turned young Matt Murdock into Daredevil. In one page his whole life is recapped. It tells of his father Jack Murdock, the radioactive cylinder that blinded Matt for life and gave him his abilities, earning his law degree, and becoming Daredevil to bring justice to his father’s killers. From that point on “DD’s” story carries the theme of identity. The first story arc he squares off with the Spot and Klaw. Both are villains that put his super senses to the test. The Spot, a teleporter, stretches his radar sense to the limit. Klaw, the living incarnation of sound, pushes the threshold of his super hearing. The question is raised, “What defines Daredevil and makes him who he is?”
Later in the series Daredevil finds himself in Latveria, where he is sprayed with a pathogen that takes away his super senses. For the first time Matt Murdock is truly blind, and deaf, and without the sense of smell or touch. Is he still Daredevil? Are his super senses what make him a hero? He of course proves that Daredevil is much more than his abilities. Through his will power and refusal to give up he develops a new sense that seems to allow him to see body heat. He uses this to escape. It is never directly mentioned, but it seems that Daredevil has the ability to create new senses as he needs them. This is an awesome new ability for a hero who has been around for a long time. Mark Waid has also focused a lot on Matt Murdock. A villain named Coyote digs up Matt’s past literally in the form of his father’s remains. This seems to be the converging of Daredevil’s path with Matt Murdock’s. He is finally able to retrieve his father’s remains and put him to rest. It is as if he is finally bringing closure to that part of his life.
Mark Waid continues to take Daredevil in new directions as his partner and best friend Foggy battles cancer, he teams up with Hulk, Superior Spiderman, and Punisher, publicly proclaims he is Daredevil, takes on one major crime organization after another, and finally moves to San Francisco.
Then there is Hulk. Waid’s take on Hulk is no less remarkable. Indestructible Hulk begins with Bruce Banner surprising Director of Shield Maria Hill in a little diner. Hill is a little perturbed expecting the Hulk to surface at any moment. Banner explains his purpose. As I mentioned earlier he is concerned with his identity. He explains his desire to leave behind a better legacy. He compares himself to Tony Stark and Reed Richards who will always be remembered for their scientific contributions. He says that his tombstone will probably read, “Hulk Smash!” He wants to change that by joining shield as a scientist. He promises to deliver a new scientific breakthrough every week. In return for this he will give Shield the use of Hulk’s services.
Director Hill accepts the offer and Hulk’s adventures as an agent of Shield begin. Banner builds a suit of armor for himself that expands to fit Hulk when he changes. It is an awesome look for Hulk and the idea is so simple and logical that I have to ask why hadn’t anyone thought of this before? I mean from the creation of Hulk in the gamma blast we have seen Banner in the after math with nothing but his ripped purple pants or in the buff.
Waid continues to redefine this character by not only focusing on Hulk, but on Banner as well. Just as it does in Daredevil, this gives our heroes a depth to their character that makes them so much more real. Hulk becomes a time traveler who must fix the time stream, but only with the help of Banner who uploaded a copy of his consciousness into a hovering robot. Once again the focus is not only on Hulk, but on Banner as well. In the current story arc in the new comic Hulk, Waid explores this further as some unknown culprit shoots Banner point blank in two specific spots in his head that renders him unconscious without bringing out the Hulk. Shield rescues Dr. Banner, but we find that he now has irreversible brain damage, which gives him the mind of a child. The question now is, “What will become of the legacy Banner tried to build apart from Hulk?” It seems that now all he has is the Green monster.
Waid seems to be the master of dual protagonist as he intertwines the two sides of these heroes’ personas perfectly. I look forward to each issue with great anticipation.