Chapter 7 | The Forgotten Nose


From Daredevil #18 (1964), by Stan Lee and John Romita

Caption: Not let’s rejoin the man whose destiny is linked with the psychopathic costume maker…

Daredevil: ”The cab is slowing! I’d better leap up here, before I’m seen! I smell salt water, and the kind of raw lumber used in packing crates! We must be near the docks! No human noises nearby… The area is deserted! Even Matt Murdock would know better than to think that the waterfront is a safe place for a date!”

Daredevil puts his sense of smell to good use, as seen in Daredevil #18 (1964) by Stan Lee and John Romita.

From Daredevil #168 (1964), by Frank Miller

Caption: “Close your eyes, let the night touch you. Feel the cold, driving rain as it batters your face and soaks your clothes… Hear the moan of a freight barge on the nearby East River: The haunting chimes of a solitary church bell as it tolls the midnight hour… Taste air heavy with lingering fumes of rush-hour traffic long gone… Smell, in maggot-ridden garbage, the stench of another day’s misery in New York’s Lower East Side… Let the night touch you — and you will take in only a fraction of its total texture… a texture fully experienced by only one man — a blind man.”

On the title page of Daredevil #168, Daredevil descends on small-time gangster Turk over a series of panels accompanied by the above captions. Turk is running a scheme in which he is pretending to be a blind peddler selling pencils. He is startled when Daredevil bounces his billy club in front of him.

From Daredevil #46 (1964), by Stan Lee and Gene Colan

Daredevil thinks: “Now, my next step is to get out of here – before they come back to really search the cell! But how far can I get in these zingy threads of mine? That odor! The scent of detergent still clinging to a freshly-laundered jacket! Could be my ticket out of here! Some joes have to go to med school for years to become a doctor! But I’m taking a little short-cut –! I’ll have to remove my mask, as well!”

Guards: ”Not a trace of him out there! I don’t get it!”

Matt thinks:Whoops! I forgot the door was still open! Lucky I’m on this side of the room! The phone! Here’s where I go into my act!”

Guards: ”Say Doc – did you see –?”

Matt: ”Hold it, officer! I’m on the phone! What’s that? The medical supply room? I’ll be right there!

Matt escapes the hospital wing of a prison, finds a white coat and impersonates a doctor in front of the guards looking for him, as seen in Daredevil #46 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan

From Daredevil #238 (1964), by Ann Nocenti, Sal Buscema, and Steve Leialoha

Sabretooth: “A corpse! One of the morlocks must have crawled away to die during the mutant massacre.” Sabretooth thinks to himself: ”What’s he doing…? He sniffs… tilts his head… he’s not using his eyes!” He speaks again: ”You’re blind, Devilman! Not bad. I’m impressed.”

Daredevil thinks ”And I’m trapped,” then says: ”He’s dead Wildman, which is what one of us will be if we keep this up. The stench of death. Still smell sweet to you, Wildman?”


Daredevil finds himself underground (and under a corpse) while being pursued by Sabretooth, as seen in Daredevil #238 (1964), by Ann Nocenti, Sal Buscema, and Steve Leialoha

From Daredevil #243 (1964), by Ann Nocenti and Louis Williams

Daredevil, to himself: “That stink – it’s making me sick. He smells like he’s rotting, like he’s dead! Other smells – tree sap… clay… oil… musky paint on his skin. He’s not American, perhaps from some tribe? Haitian like Danny? He must be one of Danny’s men!”


Matt engages in battle with the Nameless one, a being resurrected by voodoo, as seen in Daredevil #243 (1964) by Ann Nocenti and Louis Williams

From Daredevil #250 (1964), by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr.

Matt, to himself: “What’s this? The polished smell of imported leather… The finest tobacco aroma… The arrogant stance, aristocratic tilt of the head… the over-starched shirt… What’s an uptown job like him doing slumming in a free clinic in Hell’s Kitchen, the nastiest neighborhood in New York? Times like these I don’t mind that I was blinded by a piece of radioactive sludge – ’cause the heightened senses and radar it gave me allow me ’see’ more about a man that he wants me to know!”


Matt takes note of a mysterious man entering the legal clinic, as seen in Daredevil #250 (1964) by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr.

From Daredevil #91 (1998), by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

Matt remembers his childhood: “[…] It was the same with my sense of smell. Those early days on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, still learning to understand my radar… my senses were assaulted. There’s no other word for it. Garbage, sewage, rats, coffee grinds… Roasted chestnuts… Sweat under the arms of the men in the corner stores… Perfume and makeup… Breath tainted by whiskey and cigarettes… Mold… decay… Those were the fragrances of my world.

And people each came with their own distinct scent, whether they realized it or not. Like my dad. No matter how much he washed, he could never get rid of the smell of the gym… The heavy bags, the leather gloves, and that strange heavy air… a combination of smoke and sweat and humidity… No one but me would notice, but that was the scent of my father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock. He smelled like a fighter… even when he was on a slab in the morgue.

And in our old apartment, after that, the smell was inescapable. It seemed like he was everywhere, from the cupboards to the pillowcases… That first night, I slept in was everywhere, from the cupboards to the pillowcases… That first night, I slept in his closet. And when I awoke, the sense of him was so strong, it was like he was still there… just for a few moments. That was when I realized how cruel my senses could be… Because scent triggers things in the brain that you can’t control… Feelings and memories… of better times.”


The second in a page of flashback scenes from Daredevil #91 (1998) by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark. Matt remembers the things he used to smell on the streets of Hell's Kitchen when he was newly blinded as a child. Panels show storefronts, and people, and Matt himself walking with his cane down the street.
The following page from the same issue. Matt is seen doing his homework in his dad's boxing gym while Jack Murdock spars in the ring. A final panel shows an older Matt and Foggy at the morgue standing over Jack's dead body.
The third page in the sequence shows Matt sleeping in his dad's closet, and bending over a newspaper.
The sequence ends back in the present with Matt, as Daredevil, standing on a rooftop in Paris. This is the credits page.