DAREDEVIL #49-53 (1969): Daredevil Gives Up his Secret Identity!

This begins a long arc against D-list villain Starr Saxon (who later becomes Machinesmith), and the story is brokenbeyond belief.  But let’s start with a few themes: About the same time that this story began, Mandarin discovered Tony Stark was Iron Man (in Iron Man #9), and Captain America gave up being Cap (albeit by dying).  This storyline begins with Murdock, lovesick over Karen Page and angry that Foggy broke up their partnership, quitting being Daredevil.  Trope!

But no sooner does he throw his costume down in anger than a giant robot shows up at his door and knocks him out cold.

So here’s why it’s broken: Starr Saxon has figured out a way to douse a photograph with biometrick information (via an “aromascope”), which enables the robot to identify Daredevil in his secret identity and, thus, Saxon now knows that Murdock is Daredevil.



daredevil's identity discovered

But what’s even more interesting, it’s not just the villain who finds out-Karen does, too.

So we start with a hero fed up with how his secret ruins his personal life, and now both his enemy and his friend know his secret.

Along the way, Black Panther stops by.  There’s not much of a reason for him to be there, but this is the first time they meet and there’s some interesting parallels between their costumes.  In particular, a night sequence where you see Panther in silhouette and at first you might mistake him for DD.

The Saxon story doesn’t end here-it keeps going, making it the longest Daredevil arc so far.

During these issues, the writing shifts from Stan Lee to Gerry Conway.  It also marks the first time a villain figured out what’s what with the blind lawyer schtick.

The writing on these early Daredevils, as I’ve said before, isn’t really great for a noir-hero.  But we get really amazing art, with page design that was innovative for it’s time and great uses of dark and shade.  I see Colan’s art as what shaped this series for folks like Frank Miller, Dave Mazzucelli and Klaus Janson later on.daredevil 53 gene colan

In the end, he decides to jettison the secret I.D.  Good idea, but we all know it doesn’t stick.

Creators: Lee and Colan (#49), Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith (credited as Barry Smith), #50-52
First appearance: Starr Saxon
Grade: B

For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.

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