SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s Defenders #8, in stores now.
Daredevil dropped a major bombshell on his team last week by unmasking himself in Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s Defenders #8 — but it might not feel that way if you haven’t been keeping up with Daredevil comics for the past couple years. Seriously — it’s a whole thing.
Let’s break it down.
Matt Murdock’s relationship with his secret identity is complicated. After balancing his dual life with — we’ll be nice and say “middling” — he went completely public in spectacular fashion, even going as far as branding himself “Daredevil” in the courtroom, writing a memoir about his life as a hero, and (briefly) fighting crime in a suit.
Everything abruptly changed, however, in the post Secret Wars aftermath where there was an 8-month time skip, a major change in creative teams (Mark Waid and Chris Samnee passing the torch to Charles Soule and Ron Garney), and suddenly no one knew who Daredevil was under the mask anymore.
The mystery of just how that happened wasn’t solved immediately — in fact, it was revealed pretty recently, starting in Daredevil #17 with the “Purple” arc. The story wound up tying back into another Purple Man connected back in Waid and Samnee’s run, and involved amplifying the power of the Purple Man’s children to have a global effect — it was a little complicated, sure — but the major takeaway is this: No one in the Marvel Universe, save for Foggy Nelson, had any idea who Daredevil actually was. Not any of his Avengers teammates, not Frank Castle, not Kingpin, no one. So, that’s been the Hornhead status quo for a while now — Matt’s actually done a pretty good job keeping his cards close to his chest this time around, spending most of his time either isolated from his former teammates or working specifically with characters created for Soule and Garney’s run like Blindspot, a new hero Matt took under his wing.
The times that Matt did have to interact with his friends, however, were a little awkward. Everyone knew that they’d know Matt for a long time, but no one knew who he was, why they didn’t know who he was, or why they weren’t trusted enough to know who he was. Not exactly the ingredients for a healthy working relationship, especially when lives are regularly being put on the line.
Things got even weirder with the start of Bendis and Marquez’s Defenders earlier this year — the first real team book Matt would be apart of since Secret Wars “reset” him.
The team, consisting of the very Netflix-synergized lineup of Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage fighting alongside Daredevil, were naturally pretty skeptical of their teammate and would regularly bring up the fact that everyone else knew each other publicly except for Daredevil — essentially mirroring the dynamic of the Netflix show. But, obviously, it couldn’t last.
And thus, the Defenders became the first heroes in the Marvel Universe to learn who Matt Murdock actually is. Again. Thankfully, they take it pretty in stride, but narratively, it’s a major step in what ought to be a positive direction for Daredevil stories in the future, team based or otherwise. But regardless of what happens, we can only hope the whole secret identity situation won’t get as out of control as it has in the past. It’s pretty unlikely that the Purple Children will be able to pull the same memory vanishing act twice.
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