It’s been an odd year for Daredevil. Marvel’s resident blind hero decided to give up his civillian identity (for like the fifth time in his history) and use his newfound leadership of the Hand (don’t ask) to police his old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen. And by police, I mean kill those who get out of line. Apparently, Marvel’s heroes didn’t think too kindly of that, and with the conclusion of Shadowland, Daredevil is getting the boot from his own book. That brief and possibly incorrect sum-up has been brought to you by the extreme case of event fatigue that being an X-Men fan has left me with over the last year.
Yanking Daredevil’s book from the shelf has left Marvel with the possible ending of one of its franchise books. A year ago, Daredevil got Marvel’s patented Questionable Numbering treatment and jumped to #500, only for Daredevil to need a hiatus 12 issues later. This, of course, made Marvel look a bit foolish, as the whole point of questionable numbering is to push a franchise title for the forseeable future. What happens when Daredevil inevitably returns, like with Daredevil Reborn launching in January? Does he get a new title? Does he pick up the old one where it left off, like Wally West over in DC?
The answer came with Marvel’s announcement of December’s Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513. The title will continue on without it’s star, and with the “equally as popular” Black Panther filling in. I put that in quotation marks, because unlike Daredevil, Black Panther does not have a sizable fanbase. Black Panther actually doesn’t fit the “street hero” genre that Daredevil defined. In fact, Black Panther doesn’t belong in a comic set in the United States. But there you have it – Black Panther patrolling Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil’s place.
For those not familiar with the characters, Daredevil is a blind lawyer who has super senses allowing him to “see” without sight. Growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, he lost his father to organzied crime when he refused to throw a boxing match. With his powers, he decided to keep Hell’s Kitchen protected using the costumed identity of Daredevil. Sizable ninja organizations notwithstanding, Daredevil’s stories usually entail drug trade, organized crime and political corruption. Much like the somewhat classic Power Man & Iron Fist, the hero sticks to the streets. You won’t see traditional costumed super-villains or alien invasions in a common Daredevil story.
The title’s new protagonist, Black Panther, is the ruler of the African nation of Wakanda, being renowned as the world’s only major source of the super metal Vibranium. He was an Avenger for some time in the 70’s, but more focuses on threats to his nation as its ruler. That’s pretty much all I know about him, since I – like so many other people – never felt inclined to read any of his solo title attempts. And despite Marvel’s claim to the contrary, I absolutely think his name was a prime example of 1970’s blacksploitation, much like Black Lightning, Black Goliath, the Superfriends’ Black Vulcan, and every other character from the era who needed color identification in their name.