By Tim Stevens
Courtrooms have not been kind to Daredevil of late.
Over the past few years, trips to court have led to Matt Murdock's wife, Milla Donovan, being sentenced to a mental institution, his attempt to represent Gladiator, Melvin Potter, going up in smoke, and he himself ending up behind bars.
Life, as of late, has not been much better for DD or his alter ego. Outplayed by Mr. Fear, Daredevil came to the realization that nothing he could do would truly "beat" his nemesis after ripping apart Hell's Kitchen for weeks.
Still, Matt Murdock always fights back and at the urging of Luke Cage, he gets off the mat and gets back into the legal game representing a convicted villain who faces execution for a crime he did not perpetrate. The gavel sounds on May 28 with DAREDEVIL #107 written by Ed Brubaker and, making his return to Marvel after four years, Greg Rucka with art by Michael Lark.
While Murdock does his prep work, we profile his more significant cases to catch you up on the counselor's previous legal acts.
DAREDEVIL v1 #183-184
Drugs run wild on the streets and they have claimed a victim in the form of a low-level drug dealer named Flapper. The charge of murder initially falls on an elementary school student named Billy, but Matt Murdock quickly gets that case dismissed and presents evidence leading to the arrest of Flapper's partner, Peter "Hogman" Grunter. However, as Grunter gets escorted out of the court by police, he declares his innocence and Murdock detects no fluctuation in his heartbeat. Drug dealer or not, Hogman seems to be telling the truth.
Murdock does double duty during the trial: as himself, he represents Hogman in court and as Daredevil, he acts as Hogman's costumed bodyguard, protecting him from the vengeance hungry Punisher. Murdock keeps things under control long enough to secure a not guilty verdict. He quickly regrets his proficiency though as Hogman almost immediately brags to Murdock of his well-concealed guilt. A pacemaker keeps Hogman's heart rate even and thus helped him fool Daredevil's radar sense.
Murdock wins, but justice loses.
SPIDER-MAN SPECIAL EDITION: THE TRIAL OF VENOM
Doubling as a fundraiser for the United Nations Children Fund—UNICEF—this comic saw Matt Murdock accepting a pro bono job representing…Eddie Brock?!
As it happens, one night in the Vault, guards rush to Venom's cell, drawn there by the sounds of Eddie Brock's screams. A despondent mess, Brock claims that the symbiote became depressed and killed itself. An analysis of the scene reveals that this claim seems true.
Claiming to be freed of the symbiote's murderous influence, Brock mounts an appeal and Murdock steps forward to take the case, over Spider-Man's objections. When Murdock interviews Brock the first time, his radar sense does not detect any signs of Brock lying. Thus convinced, Murdock agrees to represent Brock and enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
During the trial, Murdock calls Spider-Man to the stand and deftly maneuvers the Wall Crawler into providing testimony that indicates the symbiote's responsibility for Venom's dangerous and violent behaviors. The jury buys it and Brock gets his acquittal.
Spider-Man, however, remains unconvinced. He goads Brock until the super villain can take no more and reveals that the symbiote had gone dormant, not dead. Murdock slips away in the post-revelation frenzy and rejoins the fray as Daredevil. Together the Webhead and the Hornhead trick Venom back into captivity.
Matt Murdock wins at first, but Venom blows the barrister's impressive legal maneuvering.
DAREDEVIL v1 #353-357
Daredevil tracks Mr. Hyde's heartbeat to a warehouse that once belonged to Norman Osborn and discovers the villain near the body of a dead girl. Quickly assuming the worst, Daredevil overcomes Hyde in hand-to-hand combat and turns him over to the police. Hyde taunts Murdock as he leaves, daring DD to actually prove his guilt.
Back at Murdock's paying gig, Rosalind Sharpe, the senior partner and Foggy Nelson's mom, has taken Mr. Hyde's case. Matt attempts to refuse, resenting what he views as spotlight chasing.
However, upon visiting him in prison, Murdock finds himself surprised that Hyde has been telling the truth. The bestial Hyde admits that given enough time he would have killed the runaway, however, someone beat him to the proverbial punch. Knowing Hyde's innocence, Murdock can't help but take the case.
Doing most of the legwork as Daredevil, Murdock ably unravels an attempt at framing Hyde organized and executed by the Eel. Eventually, DD bests Eel and drags him to court to successfully clear Hyde's name.
Murdock wins, thanks in large part to his alter ego's efforts.
DAREDEVIL v2 #38-40
While on patrol, the hero White Tiger happens upon a burglary in progress and swoops in to bring the thugs to justice. Unbeknownst to him, he's been beaten to the scene by a patrolman who now lies dying from a fatal gunshot wound. Tossing a TV at the vigilante, the thieves escape. Meanwhile, this leaves the Tiger standing over the body of the dead cop, stolen television in hand as more police stream into the store.
Arrested and unmasked as Hector Ayala, White Tiger ends up charged with the murder of the officer. Meanwhile, Ayala's friends Iron Fist and Luke Cage go to Matt Murdock and ask him to represent Ayala. Despite some hesitance due to his own issues—Murdock has been ousted as Daredevil at this time—a trip to the jail leaves Murdock with no doubt of Ayala's innocence and therefore finds himself unable to say no.
Initially, things go well in the courthouse. Murdock demonstrates the good character of Ayala and that the prosecution cannot connect him to the gun that killed the officer. However, things fall apart when Ayala takes the stand and proves unable to control himself under cross examination.
This loss of temper leads to a guilty conviction, at which time Ayala attacks a bailiff and steals a gun. At first, Murdock seems to gain control of the situation, but the reality of it comes crashing down on Ayala and he attempts to flee. Still brandishing a weapon as he escapes, police have justification to open fire on him, slaying him.
Murdock loses, in every sense of the word.
DAREDEVIL #107 presents its opening argument on May 28. During recess, research past DD tales with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.