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Comic Book / Daredevil (Chip Zdarsky)

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Know Fear.

"All I want to do... all I've ever wanted to do... was help people."
Matt Murdock

In 2019, after the end of Charles Soule's run on Daredevil, the book was relaunched with a new writer-artist team, Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto. The book has almost immediately gone on to be hailed as one of Marvel's best new books with critical acclaim for its complex and morally gray themes.

Matt Murdock is still recovering from being hit by a car. Daredevil has been absent from Hell's Kitchen for months now, but even with his new scars and his continuing recovery, Matt feels the pull of the Devil and puts on the costume again. But when he returns to Hell's Kitchen as Daredevil, he ends up getting into a fight with three regular robbers...and accidentally kills one.

At the same time, a new detective, Cole North, had just joined the NYPD from Chicago and one of his first assignments is investigating the death of the robber and bringing in the vigilante called Daredevil.

The conclusion of the 2019 volume also leads directly into Devil's Reign, after which Zdarsky and Checchetto reunited on a Sequel Series, Daredevil (2022).

Tropes in Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto's Daredevil run:

  • Accidental Murder: Early in the run, Matt kills a criminal while fighting with a concussion.
    • Discussed by the other Defenders. Jessica Jones points out that if you fight crime by delivering brutal beatings to criminals, even if you don't intend to kill, there is a significant chance of them dying of their injuries anyway.
  • Advice Backfire: Subverted. When Thomas calls out his mother for allying with Hammerhead against aspiring Kingpin Owlsley, and asks how that is supposed to keep his family safe, she tells him that she has been keeping them safe like this for years, and snarks that he's welcome to go confront Owlsley on his own if he likes. A few issues later, Owlsley has Thomas's young daughter kidnapped, and Thomas walks right into his headquarters to confront him. He dies.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: While Matt is serving time in prison for manslaughter, Elektra protects Hell's Kitchen in his place as Daredevil. While she does try to avoid killing, she is noticeably more vicious than Matt.
  • Affirmative-Action Legacy: Elektra decides to become the new Daredevil in order to earn Matt's trust.
  • Asshole Victim: Tyrone.
  • Backstory Invader: Mike uses a norn stone to change the timeline and make himself Matt's real brother instead of a fabricated identity accidentally brought to life by the inhuman Reader. As a side effect he inadvertently gives Fisk another son that served as his lifelong friend.
  • Badass Boast: Daredevil delivers one to the Punisher, as he fires several shots at him while carefully avoiding killing him and making it clear if Daredevil wanted the Punisher dead, he would be a long time ago.
    Daredevil: Do you have any idea? Any idea at all what I can do? The level of carnage I could unleash with a gun in my hand? The number of dead if I decided to be like you? It's no contest, Frank. You're amateur hour. You're a demon, sure, but I'm the Devil.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Wesley says "we'll make this look like a suicide", you obviously think he's referring to Tyrone's murder, and you might even wonder why they just carted off his body if that were the case, and if it occurs to you that it would be impossible to pass off a crushed skull as a suicide, you may realize before the wham line that they're going to murder Julio Alvez.
  • Berserk Button: Wilson Fisk, poor man, has a bit of a problem with people making jokes about him and calling him fat.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The series ends with Daredevil being released from prison a broken man. Fisk likewise finds some semblance of stability and happiness in marriage with Mary Walker...only to have it all go to hell when he finally learns he used to know Daredevil's identity and it's been erased from his memory.
  • Bleed 'Em and Weep: Alice is forced to shoot a Hand assassin to stop him from killing Elektra. The act brings tears to her eyes and causes her to pass out in shock. It takes days before she can talk to Elektra again and when Elektra suggests a sparring session to help her get over it, Alice just snaps at her.
  • Boxing Battler: In a rather unusual move for a cop, Detective North prefers to get into fistfights over pulling a gun. Justified when you find out he once shot a kid by accident.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Warden Hollis tries to get Matt killed in prison. Matt responds by allowing himself to be brought to his office, take down his guards, destroy his panic button, and make him scream for help, all just to show Hollis that attempting to get Daredevil killed and getting him pissed about it was one of the dumbest things he could've done to a superhero in his custody.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: A disguised DD confronts the Stromwyns at a high-society masquerade ball over their order to the governor to withdraw the cops from Hell's Kitchen in order to drive crime up and real estate prices down so they can buy it up. Their reaction? This is just one of many such deals they've instigated all over the state and they barely remember this one. They sic Bullseye on Matt anyway to make an example of him.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Detective Cole North, who has a particularly strong hatred of justice as doled out by vigilantes, and targets both Daredevil and Spider-Man. However, he's also not corrupt. This is slowly changing as the words of the local vigilantes start getting to him, and he sees the corruption in New York's authorities.
  • Call-Back: In the first issue of the run, Matt says that Reed Richards was one of his first clients. The Fantastic Four were literally Matt's very first clients, from his comic debut.
  • Cement Shoes: The impracticality of this trope is discussed by Mindy's mother-in-law. Also played straight by her mother to make a point.
  • Central Theme:
    • To Be Lawful or Good. Matt and Det. Cole North struggle with the question over the course of the run, as they increasingly have their eyes opened to the fact that many laws exist to protect the powerful, and doing good for the vulnerable means breaking those laws. The fact that the Kingpin of Crime is now the Mayor of New York underlines this theme.
    • Identity. The first half of the run features both Matt and Fisk attempting to move beyond their identities as Daredevil and the Kingpin. In Matt's absence, many citizens of Hell's Kitchen try to pick up the mantle of Daredevil, culminating in Elektra doing so in Issue #25.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Supreme Court ruling from Soule's run becomes important starting with issue #21.
  • Clear My Name: Daredevil is accused of murdering a robber, and looks for evidence of a conspiracy against him. Unfortunately, he finds out there is none, and he really did kill the man by accident.
  • Cloning Blues: Mike Murdock has a rather severe case, leading to...
  • Confusion Fu: Foggy once pulled this on a gang of muggers by dancing at them. Matt remembers it as the prison population gangs up on him in the yard, and sits down to meditate.
  • Continuity Overlap: The run overlaps with the rest of the Fresh Start publishing era, but the only major overlap Zdarsky acknowledges is King In Black (which is justified given the impact of Knull's invasion of New York).
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: Daredevil is seen as pivotal to the Hell's Kitchen community when dealing with criminals to the point the decent cops consider him one of their own, in light of Daredevil helping their loved ones and the rampant corruption of authorities with crimelord Wilson Fisk being the Mayor of New York. Detective North finds this out first hand when his attempts to arrest Daredevil are constantly impeded by sympathetic citizens and cops, who even refuse to let him be unmasked during his arrest out of respect. It gets to the point where a a whole bunch of civilians in Daredevil masks or full-blown costumes pick up the pace of his crime-fighting work when Matt gets arrested for manslaughter.
  • Cosmic Retcon: As of the 2020 annual, Matt now has a history with his formerly fake twin brother Mike, who used a Norn Stone to give himself a real past after being brought to life by the Inhuman called Reader in an earlier story arc .
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If there was any lingering doubt as to whether or not Frank Castle had any chance against Daredevil, the latter crushes him in a pretty one-sided fight, despite being injured. And if what he says is to be believed, he's not even trying.
  • Demonic Possession: While in prison, Daredevil fights and is overtaken by Knull, whom he considers the Devil.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Fisk feels Quinn Stromwyn is doing this trope when he calls a tragedy "avoidable".
  • Defector from Decadence: The Owl's mooks turn against him because he's rampantly destroying the Kitchen, and they have families there.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The "Lockdown" arc has people stay home to avoid an outside threat that can kill anyoneand it replicates.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Elektra goes to visit Daredevil in prison, dressed in her typical Stripperiffic outfit. Cue every inmate being extremely pleased. They even tell each other to keep quiet so the guards don't take her away.
  • Enemy Civil War: When Fisk steps down from his position as the Kingpin of Crime, every criminal organization in Hell's Kitchen is out to fill the gap. It starts with the Owl's men trying to kill the Lybris family while they're having dinner, and it escalates.
  • Exposition: In the annual, Mike tells Felicia his backstory, so readers who missed or forgot that part of Soule's run are up to date.
  • Eyescream: How Fisk kills Tyrone.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Stromwyns disable all communications to and from Hell's Kitchen, and ensure there won't be police interference. Other than missing the most obvious threat (Daredevil), they also didn't disable the landlines (which alerts the Bugle to the scene) and the cops who are not on their payroll and decide to help.
  • Give Me a Sign: Matt asks God for a sign, he tells Sister Elizabeth.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: When Matt and Elektra confront the governor, Elektra tells the governor she will kill him if he doesn't answer their questions. Matt tells him he'll try to stop her, but he'll probably fail.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Issue #25 has Elektra break into the prison Matt is being held in. The male inmates are very vocal about how much they find her attractive.
  • Heroic BSoD: Matt cuts himself off from engaging into his "Catholic guilt" because lives are at stake.
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: Daredevil and Elektra steal billions from the Stromwyns and distribute it among small businesses in Hell's Kitchen.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Inverted with Mindy, twice. First she starts cheating on her husband to escape the pressure of his criminal life, and then she dumps Matt for advising her to leave the city and stay out of trouble.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A normal-looking criminal calls Hammerhead a "cartoon gangster".
  • Master of Your Domain: Matt uses a meditative technique taught to him by Stick to purge a poison from his system.
  • Mayor Pain: Mayor Fisk.
  • Me's a Crowd: After Matt withdraws from the scene, a whole bunch of civilians in Daredevil masks or full-blown costumes pick up the pace of his crime-fighting work.
  • Meaningful Name: The Libris mafia family launder their money through a bookstore, which is also their front.
  • Not Me This Time: Fisk admits he's not involved into the accusation of murder leveled against Daredevil but intends to thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to see the vigilante laid low — this time, he won't get any spoilers.
  • Open Secret: Fisk denies that he used to be a crime lord, but everyone knows it.
  • Papa Wolf: Mayor Fisk may not have any sympathy for his citizens, but when it comes down to it, he is very protective of them.
  • Parrying Bullets: Elektra does this to one of Libris's men in issue #29.
    Thug: You $#%@ shot me!
    Elektra: You shot you.
  • Plausible Deniability:
    • Something Fisk has to ask Wesley how to obtain while at the Stromwyn house.
    • Convinced that Kirsten will suss out Daredevil's real identity if she spends any amount of time around him, Foggy recruits Mike Murdock to pose as Matt.
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • The first arc is titled "Know Fear", which serves as wordplay for "No Fear". Daredevil's famously known as "The Man Without Fear!"
    • In-universe, the book that contains instructions on how to use the norn-stone is titled "The Necronordic", a pun on H. P. Lovecraft's fictional tome The Necronomicon.
  • Punny Name: Detective Cole North. He's from Chicago.
  • Really Gets Around: While his rep as "the greatest himbo who ever wore a pair of tights" has been called into question, citing such facts as Matt only having had about fifteen flirts and girlfriends, the run kicks off with Matt having a one-night stand with a girl he meets in a bar, and it only gets worse from there.
  • Recycled Premise: Matt in jail where the authorities want him to die at the hands of the other inmates, while an old ally takes up the mantle of Daredevil in the outside world, is exactly how Ed Brubaker’s run started.
  • The Reveal: Sister Elizabeth, the kind nun who has been helping Matt through tough times? Turns out she's an alternate identity of Typhoid Mary's.
  • Sex with the Ex: Apparently that's what happens when you work with Elektra.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mindy and a vampire fan discuss Anne Rice in Mindy's introductory panel in issue #8.
    • To Charles Dickens, specifically Bleak House.
    • Tyrone jokes that Fisk should call his collection of businesses The Untouchables.
    • The Stromwyns's payback to Fisk involves an echo of a scene in Sherlock where they called an ambulance to let them know a man had fallen out of a window, then when paramedics are on their way, they throw him out the window.
  • Smart People Play Chess: #9: Matt plays with Reed Richards, despite being blind.
  • The Stoic: Detective Cole North.
  • Stupid Evil: Stilt-Man is not quite as funny when he's throwing bombs everywhere.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Played with. When Matt started his downwards spiral, he was sort of kidnapped by the Punisher, and then Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones all showed up to lecture him and help him through his issues. Afterwards, Spidey is shown to be active in Hell's Kitchen and lecture Detective North. However, when Hell's Kitchen is bombed, none of them shows up because all communication out of the Kitchen (with the exception of landlines) has been cut.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In issue #25, Elektra proposes an alliance that will finally take down the Hand. Matt rejects this offer because of Elektra's history of murder, betrayal and deception.
  • Take That!: The Daredevil Annual story is called "One More Day" and involves Mike Murdock magically rewriting reality.
  • Taking Up the Mantle: After Matt goes to prison, Elektra takes up the title of Daredevil to prove to him that he can trust her.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Subverted. Finding himself possessed by Knull, knowing that the creature is vulnerable to electricity, Matt drags himself to the resident electric chair in the supermax prison that he's in. He survives, but he couldn't have known that beforehand.
  • Thrill Seeker: Foggy calls Matt out and accuses him of being addicted to danger. Matt doesn't even try to tell him he's wrong.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Much of the first arc of the story is poor Matt undergoing These Hands Have Killed and reeling in despair over whether he was framed or if he actually did kill a liquor store robber during a reckless bout.Turns out he did. Even more jarring is how many street-level Marvel heroes including Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Elektra all give rather friendly versions of "Shit Happens, Feel Bad and Move On" to Matt, all admitting they've killed at least one person during their venture into superheroics and how it's an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of fighting crime by delivering brutal beatings to criminals, even if you don't intend to kill them. Disgusted, Matt calls them all murderers, quits being Daredevil, and eventually turns himself in for manslaughter.
    • Spider-Man himself admitted that he himself understands what Daredevil is going through, although unlike the others mentioned above he doesn’t treat it as something that can, or should be taken lightly. Also unlike then others he tells DD that unless he can get better and do better, he’ll personally put a stop to Daredevil's vigilante activity. Amazingly, this is exactly what DD wanted and needed to hear.
  • Title Drop: In the arc of the same name, Cole says that the kid he shot has been "through hell".
  • To Be Lawful or Good:
    • Discussed by Spider-Man and Detective Cole North - well, more Spider-Man lecturing Cole - as he points out that there's no rule book for superheroes, but they still swore an oath.
      Spider-Man: So you have a choice: you want to save lives? Or "uphold the law"?
    • In a later chapter, Cole gives a similar lecture to every single cop in the district, telling them to choose between following the orders of the higher ups and ignore Hell's Kitchen, or do their actual jobs and go stop crime and save lives. Most of them team up with Cole.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Tyrone Weltford, who follows Fisk as he goes to the bathroom to taunt him for being a pathetic has-been mafia boss with a giant frame.
    • Thomas Libris, who thought that charging in the criminal headquarters with nothing but a handgun was a good idea.
  • Training Montage: A comic book example. Elektra trains Matt to regain his fighting skills over a few pages.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Matt and Mindy. Made more complicated by Mindy's husband being with the Mafia.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Despite everyone knowing that he was the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk is still elected Mayor of New York.
  • Warrior Therapist: Deconstructed. Elektra offers to help Alice get over killing someone for the first time. Instead, Alice snaps at her and runs to her room.
  • We Need a Distraction: Wesley's reaction to news of Fisk's barehanded murder of Tyrone. He has Fisk murder a guy to hide that he murdered a guy.
  • Wham Line: Last page of issue #20: "I am turning myself in to the authorities."
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Spider-Man and Elektra all give rather friendly versions of this to Matt, as they're all concerned about his recent recklessness and want him to get his head back straight.
    • Later, Spider-Man calls out Detective Cole North on setting up a fake mugging just to catch him.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: The mook who kidnapped Belle, a realization which lets Daredevil diffuse the situation without any shots fired.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame:
    • After Daredevil accidentally kills a liquor store robber, none other than the Punisher thinks he has turned away from what Frank considers the hypocrisy of being a vigilante merely to apprehend criminals. Matt is pissed off and insists he didn't kill the guy on purpose.
    • When Mayor Fisk calls Detective North to congratulate him on almost catching and most certainly injuring Daredevil, Cole can't stand it and hangs up. On the Mayor of New York.
    • Later subverted twice in rapid succession, also with Cole. A man tells his friends that Cole can't be a cop, because cops wouldn't stop them from bullying a homeless man. Then the homeless man says to Cole he wishes there were more people like him. The combination nearly has Cole break down crying.

Alternative Title(s): Chip Zdarskys Daredevil