Chapter 9 | The Perplexing Origins of the Radar Sense

Chapter Subheadings

Humble Beginnings •
Silver Age Shenanigans

Summary

We begin our deep dive into Daredevil’s radar sense by looking at where it all began. What did Stan Lee and the numerous artists he worked with have in mind? Was the early radar sense ever defined or explained? Are we actually dealing with a metaphor? This chapter represents a humorous  journey back to the Silver Age and sets us up for the coming chapters.

Chapter Excerpt: “Let us take a moment to consider what is going on here. Over the course of the first few issues, Daredevil has sensed some remarkable things, including those that lie outside the typical set of human senses, such as electricity, and evil auras. His senses have been described as razor-sharp. But there’s an odd gap in his perceptions that remains unexplained.
In Daredevil #4, when Matt and Karen climb the steps of the courthouse, Karen comments on how quickly Matt moves up the stairs. He thinks, “I’m getting careless! I mustn’t let on that my extra-keen senses take the place of my eyesight!” But the problem is that his extra-keen senses, as they have been described thus far, don’t come close to explaining how Daredevil is able to accomplish any of his most advanced physical feats.”

Panels

From Daredevil #1 (1964), by Stan Lee and Bill Everett

Matt, to the reader: “But my most important new ability is in the form of a built-in radar that I seem to have developed! It enables me to walk anywhere safely, without bumping into anything!”

“I feel a strange tingling sensation when I approach any solid obstacle, warning me which way to turn!”

Man: “Say, son… Want any help crossin’ the street?

Matt: “No thanks! I can make it!” Thinking to himself: “Little does he suspect I can cross more safely than he can… For I have every one of my remaining senses working at absolute peak capacity!”

The two panels which introduce the radar sense. The first, of Matt walking through an office space, is described in the book. The second sees him about to cross the street when he is offered assistance by a man on the street. From Daredevil #1 by Stan Lee and Bill Everett.

From Daredevil #2 (1964), by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando

Caption: “And, in the street below, not suspecting the dread danger which awaits him above…”

Matt thinks to himself: “I can visualize the shape of the Baxter Building by the sound of the air currents hitting it… just as easily as if I could see it!”

In Daredevil #2 (1964), by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando, we see Matt Murdock stand outside the Baxter Building.

From Daredevil #3 (1964), by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando

Caption: “Although this eyes are sightless, for he has been blind since the age of fifteen, Daredevil’s other senses are so sharp, so unfailing, that he can perform breath-taking feats which even a sighted person cannot match!”

Matt thinks to himself: “Luckily, my built-in radar sense tells me how far I am from a sold obstacle… So I always know when to dodge and when to grasp!”

Bystander #1: “Look!! Here comes Daredevil!!

Bystander #2: “You’re too late this time! Even you can’t help that poor man!”

Daredevil is seen dropping to the street after just having let go of a lamp post, as seen in Daredevil #3 (1964) by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando.

From Daredevil #3 (1964), by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando

Caption: “Later, back at the aviary of the Owl…”

Matt thinks to himself: “I’m in some sort of large cage! Judging by the slight air movement above me, it’s dangling exactly eight and a half feet from the ceiling… And from the sound of the Owl’s voice, it’s ten feet from the floor! Estimating the time it takes an echo to bounce back from the walls, it’s a huge room, roughly 325 feet in diameter! That tells me all I need to know… for now!

The Owl: “I hope my two guests will be comfortable! If there’s anything you need, just ring for room service!

Daredevil and Karen are being held captive by the Owl and his men who are looking up at the two large birdcages dangling from the ceiling, as seen in Daredevil #3 by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando.

From Daredevil #5 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Matt thinks to himself: “That heartbeat! That fast, nervous pulse rate! I’ve heard it before! Wait… Of course!.. The Masked Matador! I can hear the way his fabric folds when he moves! It’s his Matador costume! How clever of him! A costume party is the one function he can attend in his criminal guise without arousing suspicion! Others will think he’s one of the guests!

My radar sense indicates he’s standing against the wall… his back towards the crowd! I hear him turning a dial… softly… cautiously…”

In Daredevil #5 (1964), Matt studies the Matador in the crowd at a costume party. The final of three panels sees the Matador with his back towards the reader, opening a safe.

From Daredevil #5 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Matt thinks to himself: “If only they’d be quiet! If only I could explain to them… My radar sense can’t function with all the commotion!

The caption reads “Explanation of Daredevil’s radar sense”: “Normally, my radar sense goes out, hits objects around me, and bounces back, giving me a mental picture of my surroundings!

But when there is too much movement and confusion all about me, the “picture” which comes back is garbled and distorted!”

Daredevil is seen clearly bothered by the rowdy crowd behind him. Inset are a couple of panels that show how his radar sense functions under optimal circumstances, and when there's too much commotion. From Daredevil #5 (1964) by Stan Lee and Wally Wood.

From Daredevil #8 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Matt thinks to himself: “The gas pedal is nailed to the floor… and the brake pedal has been cut! This is no simple accident!! Somebody planned it! Wait! That muffled ticking beneath the hood… My radar sense tells me…

Matt, aloud: “…there’s a time bomb hidden in the moter! I’m driving a death trap!!

In Daredevil #8 (1964), we see the first use of radar rings to illustrate Daredevil's use of the radar sense. Here, Daredevil is driving down the street in a runaway car (a convertible), against a backdrop of concentric rings. In a second panel, the image of a bomb appears overlaid on his head to show his being made aware of a bomb.

From Daredevil #8 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Matt thinks to himself: “The bomb is ticking louder now! It’s nearing the instant of detonation! But I can’t desert the car… Without me to steer it, someone will surely by hit! I’ve got to keep guiding it… till the end! My only hope is the river! If I can reach there before it explodes, and plunge the car into the water..!

Caption: “With iron nerve, with steady hands, the Man Without Fear guides the doomed vehicle at breakneck speed through the city streets, guided by his radar sense the same as a jetliner flying through a heavy fog…!

Though Daredevil ‘sees’ images rather than actual sights, so accurate is his sensory perception that he steers the onrushing car with the skill and precision of a master driver!”

Daredevil aloud: “Just a little bit further! I’m almost there!

Daredevil, still in his car, approaches a man on the sidewalk, which provides us with the first case of a panel attempting to illustrate Matt's point of view. In one of the panels, there's an inset showing a jet airplane. From Daredevil #8 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood.

From Daredevil #8 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Matt thinks to himself: “He’s moving closer! Ordinary walls are no obstacle at all to my hyper-acute extra-sensory ‘radar’! I’d better learn who it is, although I’ve got a good hunch…!

Matt says: “Sorry, Mr. Day! I thought I heard something! In fact, perhaps I’d better see if anyone’s at the door!”

Matt is meeting someone in his office, in Daredevil #8 (1964) by Stan Lee and Wally Wood. Behind him, we see the outline of a third man in an adjacent room, with Matt apparently sensing him through the wall.

From Daredevil #9 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Karen thinks to herself: “I’m sure it’s his blindness that makes him so cold, so distant! If only I could convince him that it doesn’t matter to me! I only want him to have that eye operation… to see again… for his sake!

Matt says: “Foggy? Are you there? Karen says she has a surprise for me! Know anything about, partner? Foggy? What are you doing?

Foggy says: “Eh, just straightening things up a bit, Matt! It’s been a busy morning! Anyway, part of Karen’s surprise whas in the newspaper this morning! I’ll read it to you, Mathew my boy!”

Matt thinks: “The ol’ son-of-a-gun! I can sense him holding a golf club clear across the room!”

Foggy thinks: “If I can just sink this last putt without him hearing it!”

Shot of the office with Matt and Karen in the background and Foggy in the foreground holding a putter. From Daredevil #9 (1964) by Stan Lee and Wally Wood.

From Daredevil #9 (1964), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Daredevil thinks to himself: “My radar senses can ‘see’ through the floor below me as though it’s made of glass! This castle isn’t as old-fashioned as it seems! It’s filled with complex electronic equipment… and enough power to blow up half a continent! But I’ll worry about that later! Right now, I’ve got to concentrate on saving my own little hide!”

Daredevil is standing inside the fortress in Lichtenbad. The floor below appears transparent under his radar sense. From Daredevil #9 (1964) by Stan Lee and Wally Wood.

From Daredevil #10 (1964), by Wally Wood and Bob Powell

Daredevil thinks to himself: “What’s that?! My radar hearing has picked up a radio message! It’s being transmitted from this yacht!”

Off-panel message:Organizer to Frog Man… The time has come for our next move…”

Matt is onboard a yacht in Daredevil #10 (1964), by Wally Wood and Bob Powell. A closeup of Matt's face shows tight radar rings in the background.

From Daredevil #11 (1964), by Stan Lee and Bob Powell

Caption:But, just then, the sightless attorney’s uncanny natural radar instinct takes over…”

Matt thinks to himself: “There’s someone ransacking out office right now! Just as I expected! This is all the proof I needed! But I’ve got to scare him away before Karen and Foggy blunder in and get hurt!”

While walking alongside Karen and Foggy, Matt notices someone in their office. Concentric radar rings positioned over the area where Matt is focusing his attention clearly reveals the silhouette of man inside holding something in his hand.

From Daredevil #11 (1964), by Stan Lee and Bob Powell

Matt thinks to himself: “I’ve got to concentrate… To separate the thousands of sounds and mental images I’m receiving… until I find the one I seek!”

Caption: “Then, once away from the others, the crimson crimefighter again puts his uncanny radar sense into play…!

Matt thinks to himself: “I And there it is! In the next room!”

Next, out loud: “Now for the moment of truth!”

Two consecutive panels. The first shows Matt standing with his hand stretched out as if he's summoning something. The background is completely obscured by concentric radar rings, with the areas between the circles filled in with different solid colors. The second panel focuses back on Daredevil's face.

From Daredevil #12 (1964), by Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., and Jack Kirby (layouts)

Caption:“Then, as the sightless adventurer totteringly stands erect, the most startling revelation of all strikes him with the impact of a cyclone…!”

Matt thinks to himself: “My radar sense… it’s gone! I can’t visualize what’s happening around me!!! That blow from Ka-Zar!! It must have done this to me!”

Out loud: “Now I really am a blind man!”

Panel shows Daredevil alone, cowering slightly. He is taking heavy fire of some sort which is coming from behind him. The background is completely obscured by smoke.

From Daredevil #13 (1964), by Stan Lee, and John Romita Sr., and Jack Kirby (layouts)

Matt thinks to himself: “My radar sense is working perfectly again! I can ‘see’ Ka-Zar rushing to attack me as clearly as if I were truly sighted!”

Ka-Zar: “Ka-Zar caged like beast! Never trust any man again! Not even you! Ka-Zar kill!”

Panel shows Matt's perspective, a close-up of Ka-Zar as he rushes toward him. The background of the panel is all black, with Ka-Zar's outline and features rendered in relatively fine detail in a bright red color.

From Daredevil #17 (1964), by Stan Lee, and John Romita Sr.

Matt thinks: “That sudden shift of air! Someone at the window! He’s dangling Foggy outside!”

Spider-Man: “Come on, Daredevil! The masquerade’s over now! You’ve got ten seconds to tell why you made me your target! How’d you ever get the nickname ‘The Man Without Fear’? You’re even afraid to admit who you are!”

Matt:Spider-Man! Don’t let go of him!” He thinks to himself: “If only I could tell him… he has the wrong man!”

Karen: Matt… Stay back! There’s nothing you can do! He… He must be going mad!”

 

Panel shows Spider-Man at the Nelson & Murdock offices, holding Foggy by the collar outside the window. Karen tries to pull Spider-Man back while Matt stands behind her.

From Daredevil #30 (1964), by Stan Lee, and Gene Colan

Onlooker #1:Look! Up there — It’s Thor!”

Onlooked #2: “He must’a lost lost his bus fare!”

Onlooker #1: “I’ll bet he’s after the Cobra — and Hyde!”

Matt as Thor thinking to himself: “Too bad I have to wear this nutty cape! By fluttering this way, it muffles some of the sound vibrations that guide me!”

 

Matt, as Thor, can be seen swinging from the buildings above as pedestrians look and point.

From Daredevil #38 (1964), by Stan Lee, and Gene Colan

Caption: “And, at that very moment, we find the real Dr. Doom arrogantly striding through the virtually deserted streets…”

Dr. Doom thinks: “Strange… I seem to sense things rather than see them! The world appears different to me than before! My vision is clouded… yet sharpened, at the same time! Perhaps it is due to the opaque eye filters on this costume!”

Doom’s thoughts continue on the next page: “I suspect I have found the key to Daredevil’s unique ability! By obscuring his normal vision, he has found a way to actually sharpen the use of his own senses!”

Caption: “Although he’s on the right track, even Doc Doom doesn’t suspect the entire, fantastic truth… namely, that DD is totally blind!”

 

In two consecutive panels (on two separate pages), Doctor Doom – now in Daredevil's body – contemplates his new sensory experiences. In the first panel he's strutting down the street. The second focuses on his face. He looks pleased to have uncovered Daredevil's secret.

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

(Note: this page follows the one that was featured among the Chapter 7 panels.)

Matt:Now then, talk fast, please! I’m wanted down the hall!”

Guard: “We’re looking for Daredevil, Doc!”

Matt: “Sorry — I haven’t seen him! I thought he was transferred to the interrogation wing!”

Guard (to the other guards):Hey! That’s a thought! Let’s go!”

Matt thinks to himself:Okay, radar sense — don’t fail me now! I have to look like I know where I’m going! Too many guards down the hall — may still be watching me! I’d better make sure I find the med supply room! Behind this door — all sorts of pharmaceutical odors! I’ve got to chance it!”

Opening the door, Matt notices that: “It’s empty — but judging by the echo of the sound of the door opening — there’s another room behind it! Having a built-in sonar sense can be mighty handy at a time like this!”

Pharmacist: “Come in — come in! I thought you’d never get here!”

Matt thinks: “For a minute there — so did I! Okay, DD — let’s go! This is pay dirt!”

The entire page follows Matt, dressed in a doctor's white coat as he evades security guards and tries to escape.

From Daredevil #58 (1964), by Roy Thomas, and Gene Colan

Karen: “And your brother ‘Mike’… The aerial explosion in which you ‘died’… even your ‘blindness’… They were nothing but ingenious frauds!”

Daredevil: “Two out of three right, my darling! I never had a brother… And that explosion was trumped up to flush out a would-be blackmailer! But, I have been blind for years… perhaps in more ways than one!”

Karen: “Really blind? I don’t understand..!”

Daredevil: “When you get down to brass tacks, Karen… Neither do I! As Matt, I told you once about the childhood accident that blinded me! That story was true, but not the whole truth! For, in some mysterious way, the same mishap that robbed me of my sight… Amazingly sharpened my remaining senses, to far beyond those of other men… enabling me to avoid disasters, and to perform athletic feats that few people even dream of!

Taste… touch… smell… hearing… All my senses were heightened! Except perhaps for that secret ingredient called… common sense! Why else would I never have told you before… that I love you?”

Karen: “And I love you, Matt… As if I haven’t worn my heart on my sleeve, since the day we met!”

Karen thinks: “But there’s still one thing… I have to try!”

Daredevil: “You can save your energy, beautiful! Maybe I can’t see, but I’ve got a radar sense that tells me you’re waving your hand… testing me!”

Karen: “I… I’m sorry, Matt! I didn’t mean to doubt you! It’s just that… I’m so confused!”

Daredevil: “That makes two of us! But there’s one point I’m clear on! We’ll never be apart again… Never!”

Karen: “Never…!”

In a flashback scene to the previous issue, Daredevil tells Karen about his blindness and abilities. The two are at her childhood home. This is the first of two pages. One of the four panels, to go along with Daredevil's description of his physical prowess, shows him performing acrobatics against a dynamic background.
Matt finishes the conversation with Karen. She tests him by waving her hands in his face before the two embrace.