FB: MILLENNIALS ARE KILLING a cadre of Gastonian plutocrats pretty soon, hopefully

My favorite superhero comic of the 2010s was Mark Waid’s Daredevil. Without hyperbole, I can call it life-changing.

Waid made the most of the status quo he’d inherited: a miserable and anxious Matt Murdock who no longer had a “secret identity” so much as a cycle of public denial. No one could prove he was Daredevil, but everybody knew it. That secret wasn’t getting unshared, no matter how many people he threatened to sue. And that was just the latest layer on a trauma cake decorated with dead girlfriends, Catholic guilt, and injustices unavenged.

So as Waid’s section of Daredevil’s story begins, miserable Matt…decides to be merry. He’s not pretending that the awful things that have happened to him aren’t awful, he’s choosing to adjust his attitude. Even that isn’t as easy as it sounds, and Waid’s 54 issues are filled with reversals and complications. But in the end, it’s an argument for remembering the power we have to shape our own stories.

In a related thread, by stages, Matt admits to the world that he is Daredevil…and that becomes an argument for living wholly. We all divide ourselves up to some degree, we all have different faces for different contexts. But when I started reading the series, I’d divided my identity too much. On social media, as a writer, or when telling my parents how I was doing, I was hiding too much of myself behind masks, filled with anxiety about letting my flaws and failings be seen. I finished Waid’s run on the series around the time I embarked on the relationship that would become my marriage. Its example helped give me the courage to be honest with Janice about who I was, even as I tried to better myself to deserve her.

These are the things I think about as I watch Penk meditate on his lost mask, his integrated selves, and the remaining Champions, all of whom look up to him but all of whom have seen him vulnerable. Goblaurence has critiqued his strategies, he’s attempted a pass at Magda, and Auraugu befriended him when he was a skinny drumming nobody. But that’s why sharing this moment with them means more than it would if they were just random soldiers, who’d worshipped Penk without ever really knowing him.

(Incidentally, the next Daredevil writer restored the character to “factory settings” immediately, going back to the secret ID, anxiety, and self-destructive tendencies. My mixed feelings about that would take too long to unpack here—and you can probably guess at most of them anyway. But I’d gotten what I’d needed from the series when I’d needed it, and that’s the important thing. Penk, at least, will not be doubling back on his development.)