The Big Comic Comfy Couch: Episode 3 – What’s in a name?

Issue one of Daredevil Reborn

A rose called by any other name wouldn’t be as sweet. Yet that seems to be what Marvel is up to.

With Daredevil #512 last week, it will be the final issue (at least for now) to feature the renowned “Man Without Fear” as the central character. Yet, that isn’t the end for the title, much less the moniker between now and when Daredevil Reborn begins in January. Although #512 came out last week and was clearly the end of Murdock’s story, Marvel decided that since Hell’s Kitchen still needed protecting it would be an idea to bring another character into the city to defend it and act as its guardian. Enter Black Panther, the former king of the African nation Wakanda. As of issue 513, Black Panther will assume his place in Hell’s Kitchen as the series is retitled, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear. The series will maintain its current numbering.

Here’s where I take issue.

I don’t feel like this is something Marvel can or should be passing around. The moniker has been an ingrained piece of the Daredevil mythology since the character’s first issue back in the 1960’s. It’s very much a key, core component of who the character is and how we define his actions and life. In addition, to face himself at the end of Shadowland and face death as he did; to fell himself upon a blade as he did out of disgrace and to do so fearlessly, that falls within what we should expect from that characterization.

As of #513, Black Panther takes over both Daredevil's title(s) and city.

Explain how the moniker can be passed like it is, and more, what in Black Panther’s life thus far even comes close to bearing any worth or would allow that moniker to become more expansive. Is it because he’s a character of a different race/culture taking guardianship over a city that isn’t his own? Does Marvel really want to play that card at this point when we’ve made so much progress socially? Is it because he’s breaking out of his regular habitat and starting over? What makes him specifically a man without fear more than any of the other half-dozen characters that were considered to take up the title role in Murdock’s absence? Why is he believable in this position?

With a new team coming in while Diggle writes Reborn, the tone seems primed to shift with new antagonists joining the fray along with the new title character. It begs the question. Since this is hardly the same title, why continue it other than to bridge the gap between the end of Shadowland and Murdock’s obvious and eventual return to Hell’s Kitchen? I understand that, but I feel to even refer to Black Panther as “The Man Without Fear” cheapens Daredevil, and more, cheapens the ending of Shadowland immeasurably. It’s forced, and is an underhanded way to move Black Panther units (for a potential TV show?) when the character has never been a consistently successful property for Marvel, much less a critically successful one. I feel it’s disingenuous to piggy back off the Daredevil title, and Marvel should be ashamed.

I don’t feel like this is a moniker you can just pass around like a cape and cowl, it’s an attitude and way of life more than anything and I don’t feel Black Panther as a character is deserving of it. But if you disagree or feel otherwise, leave a comment and we can continue the conversation like civilized folk.


Until next time, over and out.

Andrew Ardizzi Written by:

Andrew Ardizzi is an honours graduate of journalism from Humber College, and is currently working out of Toronto as a freelance writer and editor. He's also the Senior Editor at Crystal Fractal Comics. You can find him at his blog, or follow him on Twitter.

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  1. December 9

    Agree 100% Andrew. Marvel tried to sell Hercules using the Incredible Hulk title in a very similar manner. Short sighted and disrespectful if you ask me.
    Titles like Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Detective, Batman, Superman, Action and a few others deserve the following from their publishers, strong creative teams committed to long runs on the title and respect for the high and well deserved issue numbers they have reached. Fantastic Four will hit the 50 year mark as a title next November, I can see Marvel cashing in on this through promotion. I can also see them coldly ending the sequence a year later to cash in on a Heroes Reborn 20th anniversary or something (that’s if they don’t switch over to the Fantastic Inhumans at issue #723).

  2. December 10

    If the Hercules takeover of Hulk did well enough, then of course Marvel will try the same thing again to piggy back a minor character into a main title for as long as they can. You are expecting too much artistic integrity for something that gets handed around from creative team to creative team like a Kardashian. Choose to ignore this brief Panther period and come back when Matt’s back on the cover.

    Prove Marvel wrong.

  3. I, Warren
    December 10

    This isn’t so very different from having James Rhodes as Iron Man instead of Tony Stark, Ben Reilly as Spider-Man instead of Peter Parker, John Stewart or Guy Gardner as Green Lantern instead of Hal Jordan, Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael) or Dick Grayson as Batman instead of Bruce Wayne etc. The only big difference is they kept the name (though their personas/powers/costumes may be different)

    If the replacement character dovetails thier storyline into the existing comic and justifies why they’re there for the interim, like they did with Hercules, I have no problem with it. It gives a spotlight to a B-level character, hopefully to propel them to the A-list, and drums up interest in the main character and their inevitable return.

  4. December 10

    Is there anything sacred in comics? What would it take to make enough fans cry sacrilege and just drop a title in protest?

  5. I, Warren
    December 10

    Usually the name “Liefeld” :)

    Honestly, I don’t know if I can think of one defining reason why I’ve dropped titles in the past, other than they were no longer fun.

    Too many crossovers, too dark/gritty, don’t care where they’re taking the characters, even price increases – these have all been deciding factors in the past.

    Bottom line, though, is that I’ll stick with a title if it’s fun. I like “Hulk” before Hercules took over, I liked it during Hercules’ run and I liked it afterwards. The only thing it may’ve “hurt” was my filing, if I chose to put everything alpha-numerically (it didn’t — I filed the Herc issues in with my Hulks, as it’s the stories I’m following, not a number on a cover).

  6. December 10

    Does anyone think that the Black Panther cover looks like Batman?

  7. Andrew Ardizzi
    December 11

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    @Walter: I think if they had any sense with this title, they’d put “Daredevil” on hiatus. From there, start a Black Panther series. Instead, they are trying another underhanded move in the ilk of their anti-Blackest Night promotion, their shift towards a thrice monthly Amazing Spiderman to increase their issue count (come on, the quality suffered), as well as your Fantastic Four example. This particular move reeks of promotion. They know as well as we do that a Black Panther title won’t sell, yet with it in consideration for one of Marvel’s TV series, they need to boost popularity somehow. To do it in a way though that disrespects Daredevil fans to the benefit of the company’s own promotion is pathetic. To continue on with the current numbering and to re-title it with a new character using Daredevil’s “Man Without Fear” moniker compounds it.

    @Chris: I plan to drop it. I may take a look at the first issue, because I’m curious about how it’s going to be setup. Other than that, I’m done until after Reborn.

    @I, Warren: Fine. But why call him the “Man Without Fear”. I think the story of what goes on in Hell’s Kitchen during Murdock’s absence needs to be told, but I don’t agree that continuing the numbering with a character not in anyway associated with Murdock is farcical and debunks your War Machine-Iron Man argument. Then to have T’Challa use the nickname in title if not in practice is a slap in the face. As for your other examples, I addressed those in my “different than a cape and cowl” line. Also, Liefeld gives me the heebie-jeebies.

    @Anthony: No need to piss off the Batman fans now. 😛

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