© J Hardy Carroll
“Who’s that sparring with Rocko.”
Wally, the boxing gym’s owner was talking to his pal Stan. They always liked seeing fresh talent walk in to train.
“I never thought I’d see him here. Isn’t he in college or something?”
“Law school, Stan.”
“With that much brain power, why’s he training with a bunch of Hell’s Kitchen kids?”
“Probably because of his old man.”
“Yeah, too bad about Battlin’ Jack. They say the Fixer had him hit.”
“Better keep that to yourself.”
“Gotcha. Can’t believe that’s blind little Matty in the ring. It’s like he can still see.”
I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo at the top as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.
Cover art for Daredevil issue #7 (1964), pencils and inks by Wally Wood
Today, I mined the 1964 origin of the Marvel superhero Daredevil, the Man without Fear. I don’t know how much has changed about Daredevil in the modern world of comic books and I’ve never seen the Netflix series, but in the original story, Matt was being raised by his Dad, a down and out boxer named “Battlin'” Jack Murdock and living in a rough New York neighborhood called Hell’s Kitchen. Jack forbids Matt to go into boxing or other sports and pushes him to become an outstanding scholar instead.
Even though Jack is past his prime, the only way he knows how to make a living until Matt grows up is to box. No one but the disreputable “Fixer” will manage him so he goes that route and seems to do very well for a while.
In the meantime, a now teenaged Matt sees a blind and deaf man crossing the street and about to be hit by a truck. Matt has secretly been training athletically as well as becoming an excellent student and has the speed and reflexes to push the old man out of harm’s way. However in the accident, a canister falls off the truck and hits Matt in the face. It contains some sort of radioactive substance which blinds Matt and also amplifies his remaining senses plus giving him a “radar sense.”
Matt continues to grow and train and after graduating college with honors goes into Law School. Jack has had a great winning streak in the ring but he finally discovers that all of his opponents were paid by the Fixer to throw their fights. Now the Fixer wants Jack to take a dive.
Matt is at the fight that night cheering his Dad on and Jack doesn’t want to let him down by pretending to lose. He beats the other boxer but crossing the Fixer proves fatal. He’s murdered later that night.
Once Matt graduates and opens a law practice with his former roommate Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, he decides to go after the Fixer. To honor his promise to his Dad that Matt Murdock wouldn’t go into a dangerous profession, he creates the alter ego “Daredevil,” which was a nickname the neighborhood kids gave him when he was little because he wouldn’t go out for sports like the rest of the boys.
Daredevil pretends he’s recorded the Fixer’s confession on tape and during a chase scene, the older criminal has a heart attack and dies. Justice is done. Matt continues to pretend to be “normally” blind concealing his super senses and Daredevil goes on to fight injustice and some of the most bizarre criminals ever to grace the comic books.
I named Wally and Stan after Wally Wood and Stan Lee. In 1964, writer/editor Lee and artist Bill Everett (who created Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner in the 1940s) created Daredevil, but in issue #7, artist Wally Wood invented DD’s now iconic red costume (and interestingly enough, DD fights Prince Namor in that issue). It wasn’t commonly known then (and Lee still won’t admit to it today) but most or all of his artists had a lot of creative control over the Marvel comic books including plotting and writing, but Stan took all the credit.
Oh, I made up that part about Matt training at a boxing gym just for fun.
To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.