Marvel Comics

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Posted by bender 03/30/2009 @ 17:12

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Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the first comic from Marvel precursor Timely Comics. Cover art by Frank R. Paul

Marvel Comics is an American comic book and related media company owned by Marvel Publishing, Inc., a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. Marvel counts among its characters such well-known properties as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, the X-Men, and many others. Most of Marvel's fictional characters operate in one single reality; this is known as the Marvel Universe.

The comic book arm of the company started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the 1950s was generally known as Atlas Comics. Marvel's modern incarnation dates from 1961, with the launching of Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others. Marvel has since become the largest American comic book publisher over long time competitor DC Comics.

Martin Goodman founded the company later known as 'Marvel Comics' under the name "Timely Publications" in 1939. Goodman, a pulp-magazine publisher whose first publication was a Western pulp in 1933, expanded into the emerging — and by then already highly popular — new medium of comic books. Goodman began his new line from his existing company's offices at 330 West 42nd Street, New York City, New York. He officially held the titles of editor, managing editor, and business manager, with Abraham Goodman officially listed as publisher.

Timely's first publication, Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), contained the first appearance of Carl Burgos' android superhero the Human Torch, and the first generally available appearance of Bill Everett's anti-hero Namor the Sub-Mariner, among other features. The contents of that sales blockbuster were supplied by an outside packager, Funnies, Inc., but by the following year Timely had a staff in place. With the second issue the series title changed to Marvel Mystery Comics.

The company's first true editor, writer-artist Joe Simon, teamed up with soon-to-be industry legend Jack Kirby to create one of the first patriotically themed superheroes, Captain America, in Captain America Comics #1. (March 1941) It, too, proved a major sales hit, with a circulation of nearly one million.

While no other Timely character would achieve the success of these "big three", some notable heroes — many continuing to appear in modern-day retcon appearances and flashbacks — include the Whizzer, Miss America, the Destroyer, the original Vision, and the Angel. Timely also published one of humor cartoonist Basil Wolverton's best-known features, "Powerhouse Pepper," as well as a line of children's funny animal comics whose most popular characters were Super Rabbit and the duo Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal.

Goodman hired a teen-aged relative,once said Stanley Lieber, as a general office assistant in 1939. When editor Simon left the company in late 1941, Goodman made Lieber — by then writing pseudonymously as "Stan Lee" — interim editor of the comics line, a position Lee kept for decades except for three years during his World War II military service. Lee wrote extensively for Timely, contributing to a number of different titles.

No-one wanted to read their and the post-war American comics saw superheroes falling out of fashion. Goodman's comic-book line dropped superheroes and expanded into a wider variety of genres than even Timely had published, emphasizing horror, Westerns, humor, funny-animal, men's adventure-drama, crime, and war comics, later adding a helping of jungle books, romance titles, and even espionage, medieval adventure, Bible stories and sports. Like other publishers, Atlas also courted female readers with mostly humorous comics about models and career women.

Goodman began using the globe logo of Atlas, the newsstand-distribution company he owned, on comics cover-dated November 1951. This united a line put out by the same publisher, staff, and freelancers through 59 shell companies, from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications.

Atlas, rather than innovate, took what it saw as the proven route of following popular trends in TV and movies — Westerns and war dramas prevailing for a time, drive-in movie monsters another time — and even other comic books, particularly the EC horror line. Atlas also published a plethora of children's and teen humor titles, including Dan DeCarlo's Homer, the Happy Ghost (a la Casper the Friendly Ghost) and Homer Hooper (a la Archie Andrews). Atlas unsuccessfully attempted to revive superheroes in Young Men #24-28 (Dec. 1953 - June 1954), with the Human Torch (art by Syd Shores and Dick Ayers, variously), the Sub-Mariner (drawn and most stories written by Bill Everett), and Captain America (writer Stan Lee, artist John Romita Sr.).

The first comic book under the Marvel Comics brand, the science-fiction anthology Amazing Adventures #3, showed the "MC" box on its cover. Cover-dated August 1961, it was published May 9, 1961. Then, in the wake of DC Comics' success in reviving superheroes in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly with the Flash, Green Lantern, and other members of the team the Justice League of America, Marvel followed suit. The introduction of modern Marvel's first superhero team, in The Fantastic Four #1, cover-dated November 1961, began establishing the company as known as of 2009.

Editor-writer Stan Lee and freelance artist Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four, reminiscent of the non-superpowered adventuring quartet the Challengers of the Unknown that Kirby had created for DC in 1957, originated in a Cold War culture that led their creators to deconstruct the superhero conventions of previous eras and better reflect the psychological spirit of their age. Eschewing such comic-book tropes as secret identities and even costumes at first, having a monster as one of the heroes, and having its characters bicker and complain in what was later called a "superheroes in the real world" approach, the series represented a change that proved to be a great success. Marvel began publishing further superhero titles featuring such heroes and antiheroes as the Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men and Daredevil, and such memorable antagonists as Doctor Doom, Magneto, Galactus, the Green Goblin, and Doctor Octopus. The most successful new series was The Amazing Spider-Man, by Lee and Steve Ditko. Marvel even lampooned itself and other comics companies in a parody comic, Not Brand Echh (a play on Marvel's dubbing of other companies as "Brand Echh", a la the then-common phrase "Brand X").

Marvel's comics had a reputation for focusing on characterization to a greater extent than most superhero comics before them.{[fact}} This was true of The Amazing Spider-Man in particular. Its young hero suffered from self-doubt and mundane problems like any other teenager. Marvel superheroes are often flawed, freaks, and misfits, unlike the perfect, handsome, athletic heroes found in previous traditional comic books. Some Marvel heroes looked like villains and monsters. In time, this non-traditional approach would revolutionize comic books.

Lesser-known staffers during the company's industry-changing growth in the 1960s (some of whom worked primarily for Marvel publisher Martin Goodman's umbrella magazine corporation) included circulation manager Johnny Hayes, subscriptions person Nancy Murphy, bookkeeper Doris Siegler, merchandising person Chip Goodman (son of publisher Martin), and Arthur Jeffrey, described in the December 1966 "Bullpen Bulletin" as "keeper of our MMMS files, guardian of our club coupons and defender of the faith".

In the fall of 1968, company founder Goodman sold Marvel Comics and his other publishing businesses to the Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation'. It grouped these businesses in a subsidiary called Magazine Management Co.' Goodman remained as publisher.

In 1971, the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare approached Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee to do a comic-book story about drug abuse. Lee agreed and wrote a three-part Spider-Man story portraying drug use as dangerous and unglamorous. However, the industry's self-censorship board, the Comics Code Authority, refused to approve the story because of the presence of narcotics, deeming the context of the story irrelevant. Lee, with Goodman's approval, published the story regardless in The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May-July 1971), without the Comics Code seal. The storyline was well-received and the Code was subsequently revised the same year.

Goodman retired as publisher in 1972 and Lee succeeded him, stepping down from running day-to-day operations at Marvel. A series of new editors-in-chief oversaw the company during another slow time for the industry. Once again, Marvel attempted to diversify, and with the updating of the Comics Code achieved moderate to strong success with titles themed to horror (The Tomb of Dracula), martial arts, (Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu), sword-and-sorcery (Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja), satire (Howard the Duck) and science fiction ("Killraven" in Amazing Adventures and, late in the decade, the long running Star Wars series). Some of these were published in larger-format black and white magazines, that targeted mature readers, under its Curtis Magazines imprint. Marvel was able to capitalize on its successful superhero comics of the previous decade by acquiring a new newsstand distributor and greatly expanding its comics line. Marvel pulled ahead of rival DC Comics in 1972, during a time when the price and format of the standard newsstand comic were in flux. Goodman increase the price and size of Marvel's November 1971 cover-dated comics from 15 cents for 39 pages total to 25 cents for 52 pages. DC followed suit, but Marvel the following month dropped its comics to 20 cents for 36 pages, offering a lower-priced product with a higher distributor discount.

In 1973, Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation changed its name to Cadence Industries, which in turn renamed Magazine Management Co. as Marvel Comics Group. Goodman, now completely disconnected from Marvel, set up a new company called Atlas/Seaboard Comics in 1974, reviving Marvel's old Atlas name, but this lasted only a year-and-a-half.

In the mid-1970s, a decline of the newsstand distribution network affected Marvel. Cult hits such as Howard the Duck were the victims of the distribution problems, with some titles reporting low sales when in fact they were being resold at a later date in the first specialty comic-book stores. But by the end of the decade, Marvel's fortunes were reviving, thanks to the rise of direct market distribution — selling through those same comics-specialty stores instead of newsstands.

In October 1976, Marvel, which already licensed reprints in different countries, including the UK, created a superhero specifically for the British market. Captain Britain debuted exclusively in the UK, and later appeared in American comics.

In 1978 Jim Shooter became Marvel's editor-in-chief. Although a controversial personality, Shooter cured many of the procedural ills at Marvel (including repeatedly missed deadlines) and oversaw a creative renaissance at the company. This renaissance included institutionalizing creator royalties, starting the Epic imprint for creator-owned material in 1982, and launching a brand-new (albeit ultimately unsuccessful) line named New Universe, to commemorate Marvel's 25th anniversary, in 1986. However, Shooter was responsible for the introduction of the company-wide crossover (Contest of Champions, Secret Wars).

In 1981 Marvel purchased the DePatie-Freleng Enterprises animation studio from famed Looney Tunes director Friz Freleng and his business partner David H. DePatie. The company was renamed Marvel Productions and it produced well-known animated TV series and movies featuring such characters as G.I. Joe, The Transformers, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, and such TV series as Dungeons & Dragons, as well as cartoons based on Marvel characters, including Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

In 1986, Marvel was sold to New World Entertainment, which within three years sold it to MacAndrews and Forbes, owned by Revlon executive Ronald Perelman. Perelman took the company public on the New York Stock Exchange and oversaw a great increase in the number of titles Marvel published. As part of the process, Marvel Productions sold its back catalog to Saban Entertainment (acquired in 2001 by Disney).

Marvel earned a great deal of money and recognition during the early decade's comic-book boom, launching the highly successful 2099 line of comics set in the future (Spider-Man 2099, etc.) and the creatively daring though commercially unsuccessful Razorline imprint of superhero comics created by novelist and filmmaker Clive Barker. Yet by the middle of the decade, the industry had slumped and Marvel filed for bankruptcy amidst investigations of Perelman's financial activities regarding the company.

In 1991 Marvel began selling Marvel Universe Cards with trading card maker Impel. These were collectible trading cards that featured the characters and events of the Marvel Universe.

Marvel in 1992 acquired Fleer Corporation, known primarily for its trading cards, and shortly thereafter created Marvel Studios, devoted to film and TV projects. Avi Arad became director of that division in 1993, with production accelerating in 1998 following the success of the film Blade.

In 1994, Marvel acquired the comic book distributor Heroes World to use as its own exclusive distributor. As the industry's other major publishers made exclusive distribution deals with other companies, the ripple effect resulted in the survival of only one other major distributor in North America, Diamond Comic Distributors Inc. Creatively and commercially, the '90s were dominated by the use of gimmickry to boost sales, such as variant covers, cover enhancements, regular company-wide crossovers that threw the universe's continuity into disarray, and even special swimsuit issues. In 1996, Marvel had almost all its titles participate in the Onslaught Saga, a crossover that allowed Marvel to relaunch some of its flagship characters, such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, in the Heroes Reborn universe, in which Marvel defectors Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld were given permission to revamp the properties from scratch. After an initial sales bump, sales quickly declined below expected levels, and Marvel discontinued the experiment after a one-year run; the characters returned to the Marvel Universe proper. In 1998, the company launched the imprint Marvel Knights, taking place within Marvel continuity; helmed by soon-to-become editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, and featuring tough, gritty stories showcasing such characters as the Inhumans, Black Panther and Daredevil, it achieved substantial success.

In 1991, Perelman took Marvel public in a stock offering underwritten by Merrill Lynch and First Boston Corporation. Following the rapid rise of this immediately popular stock, Perleman issued a series of junk bonds that he used to acquire other children's entertainment companies. Many of these bond offerings were purchased by Carl Icahn Partners, which later wielded much control during Marvel's court-ordered reorganization after Marvel went bankrupt in 1996. In 1997, after protracted legal battles, control landed in the hands of Isaac Perlmutter, owner of the Marvel subsidiary Toy Biz. With his business partner Avi Arad, publisher Bill Jemas, and editor-in-chief Bob Harras, Perlmutter helped revitalize the comics line.

With the new millennium, Marvel Comics escaped from bankruptcy and again began diversifying its offerings. In 2001, Marvel withdrew from the Comics Code Authority and established its own Marvel Rating System for comics. The first title from the era to not have the code was X-Force #119 (Oct. 2001). It also created new imprints, such as MAX, a line intended for mature readers, and Marvel Age, developed for younger audiences. In addition to this is the highly successful Ultimate Marvel imprint, which allowed Marvel to reboot their major titles by deconstructing and updating its major superhero and villain characters to introduce to a new generation. This imprint exists in a universe parallel to mainstream Marvel continuity, allowing writers and artists freedom from the characters' convoluted history and the ability to redesign them, and to maintain their other ongoing series without replacing the established continuity. This also allowed Marvel to capitalize on an influx of new readers unfamiliar with comics but familiar with the characters through the film and TV franchises. The company has also revamped its graphic novel division, establishing a bigger presence in the bookstore market. As of 2007, Marvel remains a key comics publisher, even as the industry has dwindled to a fraction of its peak size decades earlier.

In 2006, Marvel's fictional crossover event "Civil War" established federal superhero registration in the Marvel universe, creating a political and ethical schism throughout it. Also that year, Marvel created its own wiki.

The company launched an online initiative late in 2007, announcing Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, a digital archive of 2,500 back issues available for viewing, for a monthly or annual subscription fee.

The Marvel editor-in-chief oversees the largest-scale creative decisions taken within the company. While the fabled Stan Lee held great authority during the decades when publisher Martin Goodman privately held his company, of which the comics division was a relatively small part, his successors have been to greater and lesser extents subject to corporate management.

The position evolved sporadically. In the earliest years, the company had a single editor overseeing the entire line. As the company grew, it became increasingly common for individual titles to be overseen separately. The concept of the "writer-editor" evolved, stemming from when Lee wrote and managed most of the line's output. Overseeing the line in the 1970s was a series of chief editors, though the titles were used intermittently. Confusing matters further, some appear to have been appointed merely by extending their existing editorial duties. By the time Jim Shooter took the post in 1978, the position of editor-in-chief was clearly defined.

In 1994, Marvel briefly abolished the position, replacing Tom DeFalco with five "group editors", though each held the title "editor-in-chief" and had some editors underneath them. It reinstated the overall editor-in-chief position in 1995, installing Bob Harras. Joe Quesada became editor-in-chief in 2000.

Located in New York City, Marvel has been successively headquartered in the McGraw-Hill Building (where it originated as Timely Comics in 1939); in suite 1401 of the Empire State Building; at 635 Madison Avenue (the actual location, though the comic books' indicia listed the parent publishing-company's address of 625 Madison Ave.); 575 Madison Avenue; 387 Park Avenue South; 10 East 40th Street; and 417 Fifth Avenue.

Marvel characters and stories have been adapted to many other media. Some of these adaptations were produced by Marvel Comics and its sister company, Marvel Studios, while others were produced by companies licensing Marvel material.

Many television series, both live action and animated, have been based on Marvel Comics characters. These include multiple series for popular characters such as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. Of particular note were the animated series from the mid to late 90's, which were all part of the same Marvel animated universe.

Additionally, a handful of television movies based on Marvel Comics characters have been made.

Marvel characters have been adapted into films including the Spider-Man, Blade and X-Men trilogies; the Fantastic Four film series, Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hulk, The Punisher, and Punisher: War Zone as well as the upcoming films X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Runaways, Iron Man II, Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America and The Avengers.

Additionally, a series of direct-to-DVD animated films began in 2006 with Ultimate Avengers, The Invincible Iron Man, and Doctor Strange.

Marvel has licensed its characters for theme parks and attractions, including at the Universal Orlando Resort's Islands of Adventure, in Orlando, Florida, which includes rides based on the Hulk, Spider-man, and Doctor Doom, and performers costumed as Captain America, the X-Men, and Spider-Man. Universal theme parks in California and Japan also have Marvel rides. In early 2007 Marvel and developer the Al Ahli Group announced plans to build Marvel's first full theme park, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, by 2011.

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Mutant (Marvel Comics)

A mutant within the Marvel comic books, particularly those of the X-Men mythos, is an individual who possesses a genetic trait called an X-gene that allows them to naturally develop superhuman powers and abilities. Mutants are members of the subspecies Homo sapiens superior, an evolutionary progeny of Homo sapiens, and are considered the next stage in human evolution.

A mutant is a person who is a member of a genetic offshoot of humanity. This is most accurately described as the subspecies Homo sapiens superior, but is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the separate species Homo superior. All mutants have a genetic mutation called an X-gene that causes their bodies to develop abilities that regular humans cannot. The majority of mutants develop these abilities, which vary from person to person, usually upon puberty, though there are some mutants who display powers and/or physical mutations from birth, or in their twenties. Some mutants even display abilities from within the womb and posthumously, like Professor Charles Xavier and Jean Grey, respectively.

Mutant powers vary seemingly without limit. Examples of powers shared by many individuals include telepathy; telekinesis; flight; the ability to project energy, accelerated healing; and enhanced physical strength, agility, or senses; all to variable limits. Mutation can also entail a minor to radical alteration in physical appearance from the human norm - wings, gills, a tail, fur, altered skin color, etc.

Mutant powers can grow and increase as the mutant grows and develops. Some powers remain latent until activated by severe stress, or remain unnoticed throughout the person's lifetime, while others are apparent immediately from birth. Some individuals have a secondary mutation which activates in adulthood. For some mutants, several years of self-discipline are needed before they can control their powers, while others never gain full control of their powers.

Mutants may be born to human or mutant parents, though the odds of a mutant birth are much better for the latter. Likewise, it is rare but possible for mutant parents to have human children, termed "baseline" by characters within the Marvel Universe. Some baseline humans are genetically predisposed towards having mutant descendants such as the Guthrie family (see Cannonball, Husk, and Icarus). Mutant children born to mutant parent(s) will not necessarily have the same power(s) as their parent(s), nor will they necessarily have the same power(s) as any mutant siblings they may have; however, examples of children with the same power(s) as their parents and/or siblings are not uncommon.

Recently within the Marvel Universe, some mutants have undergone seemingly random mutations, granting them new powers outside the realm of their original mutations. Such a phenomenon is called a secondary mutation.

Mutants are immune to the AIDS virus as revealed in an issue of Uncanny X-Men in which the character Archangel discussed he did not need an HIV test due to his status as a mutant. Before its elimination, mutants were particularly susceptible to the Legacy Virus. Mutants are also born with a natural immunity against certain other genetic infections like Phalanx and Sublime, and a specific brainwave pattern that can be detected by certain means, such as the Cerebro device.

Within the Marvel Universe, there exist some people who also display superpowers yet are not mutants because they lack an X-gene.

The term "mutant" in the Marvel Universe does not apply to those whose DNA has been mutated by an external force; in such case, those individuals are called mutates, an abbreviation of "mutated human." The genetic material of mutates has been altered by an outside stimulus such as radiation, toxic shock, chemical agents, or energy. Spider-Man, who was not born a mutant, but was granted super-human powers by the bite of a radioactive spider, which injected irradiated spider venom into his bloodstream, is a popular example of a mutate.

Some mutates have been altered by magic, such as Juggernaut. These individuals were given the name magic-based mutates as of Civil War: Battle Damage Report.

Following the events of House of M many mutants have lost their powers - or, more specifically, their X-genes - and become physically human. In Son of M, several ex-mutants are exposed to the mutagenic Terrigen Mist, in some cases restoring their powers in uncontrollable forms but in others, such as Quicksilver's, granting entirely new powers. All, however, are now technically mutates, not mutants.

The supervillain Vargas was born with superpowers yet lacks an X-gene. He claims to be a representative of an entirely new species, the "true" Homo superior. His claim may be authentic given the principle of genetic drift.

A March 1952 story in Amazing Detective Cases #11 called "The Weird Woman" tells of a woman describing herself as a mutant who seeks a similarly superhuman mate.

A character with superhuman powers, born from a radiation-exposed parent, was seen in "The Man With The Atomic Brain!" in Journey into Mystery #52 in May 1959; although not specifically called a "mutant", his origin is consistent with one.

A little-known story in Tales of Suspense #6 (November 1959) titled "The Mutants and Me!" was one of the first Marvel (then known as Atlas) stories to feature a named "mutant".

The modern concept of mutants as an independent subspecies was created and utilized by Marvel editor/writer Stan Lee in the early 1960s, as a means to create a large number of superheroes and villains without having to think of a separate origin for each one. As part of the concept, Lee decided that these mutant teenagers should, like ordinary ones, attend school in order to better cope with the world, in this case Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. These mutants first appeared in the superhero series X-Men, which debuted in 1963 and remains the most prominent vehicle for the mutant concept.

The extensive popularity of the X-Men led Marvel to create several additional mutant superhero teams, including The New Mutants, X-Factor, Excalibur, X-Force, and Generation X.

Officially, Namor the Sub-Mariner is considered the first mutant superhero whom Marvel Comics ever published , debuting in 1939. However, Namor was not actually described as a mutant until decades after his first appearance. The same is true of Toro, a little-known hero introduced in 1940.

One million years ago, an alien race called the Celestials came to Earth and performed genetic experiments on proto-humanity, incorporating and altering DNA in the genetic code of the early species of the genus Homo to allow future generations to gain superpowers, making the Celestials the source of all mutants.

The first recorded mutant on Earth is Selene Gallio (active as early as the Hyborian Age); as her particular mutant powers grant her immortality, however, she may not necessarily be the first mutant. Given the character's propensity for lying and misleading, it is also possible that she fabricates this element of her biography. She was considered a de facto member of the Externals, a defunct group of ancient immortal mutants. Apocalypse, born in the 30th century BC, is often referred to as the first mutant. Gateway is another noteworthy ancient mutant.

Some of the first mutants were honored as gods, like Selene herself.

Very few people know about mutants before the latter half of the 20th century. Given that mutants were an unknown population until after World War II, many, if not the vast majority of mutants apparently hid their powers. The general public did know about mutates, however, like Captain America. The American military knew of Wolverine, but they were unaware that he was something categorically different from other supersoldiers.

Other noteworthy mutants active at this time include: Mystique, Destiny and Sabretooth. Whilst technically not a mutant, Mr. Sinister was also active from before this time.

It is unclear within the Marvel Universe when, exactly, mutants were exposed to the world. Activities of some superheroes and supervillians may have been what notified the general public about the existence of mutants.

Many people harbor prejudicial attitudes about mutant people. They do so for a variety of reasons, including bigotry and xenophobia (particularly directed at mutants with nonstandard appearances), jealousy of their natural superpowers, and fear of being replaced or rendered extinct by the so-called next stage in human evolution. Anti-mutant sentiment often leads to mob violence and the alienation of mutants from society. Mutant Town, for example, is a ghetto-like neighborhood in New York City.

By comparison, most non-mutant superheroes, including mutates, are not affected by such bigotry, at least not to the same degree. Occasionally such people, such as Howard the Duck, are mistaken for mutants and treated accordingly.

Some media outlets go against the current of anti-mutant sentiment, most notably the Daily Bugle, which under publisher J. Jonah Jameson has repeatedly advocated in favor of mutant rights and causes. Just as the X-Men themselves are targeted by mutant extremists, human hate groups like the Friends of Humanity have been known to attack humans who are mutant sympathizers.

At the same time, they confront threats (to both mutants and humans) coming from mutants such as Magneto and Apocalypse, who (in their own ways) believe their species has a right to rule over ordinary humans, simply by virtue of being more genetically advanced. A considerable number of ordinary humans fear a potential mutant/human war, partially due to the actions of these mutants.

Other mutant superteams such as X-Factor, X-Force, and Excalibur also operate in the Marvel Universe, with their own agendas and obstacles.

Some mutants have been important parts of such traditionally non-mutant teams as the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the Defenders, even receiving celebrity or iconic status as a result.

The majority of mutants have arisen in the relatively recent past; the number of children being born with X-genes is growing enormously, creating a mutant population boom. The worldwide mutant population boom was a significant plot of New X-Men, in which the rise of mutants in the world created new tensions, necessities, and fears.

The growing mutant youth population develops a subculture with mutant bands and fashions, with some rebellious non-mutant youths adopting the subculture in turn. Mutants form a ghetto in Alphabet City, Manhattan, known as District X or Mutant Town. This ghetto becomes crime-ridden and beset by poverty, with its own unique culture and society.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hank McCoy discovered that coinciding with the mutant baby boom is the potential to end Homo sapiens within five generations, making mutants the dominant species on Earth.

The United Nations ceded the island nation of Genosha to Magneto, and after a brief civil war in which Magneto defeated the former human magistrates of Genosha, he re-established the nation into a mutant sanctuary. At its height, Genosha had sixteen million residents, the largest centralized population of mutants ever on earth. Despite concerns from the X-Men, Magneto seemingly succeeded in building his mutant paradise; however, Cassandra Nova destroyed the nation, killing almost all of the population with her Sentinels. The island is currently in complete ruin and seemingly uninhabited.

Following a nervous breakdown of the Scarlet Witch, she uses her reality warping powers to reverse the human-mutant relation; in the new reality, mutants are dominant in comparison with ordinary humans and her father Magneto is the leader of the world.

Terrified of the reality she had created in which her tyrannical father enslaved humanity and oppressed fellow mutants, the Scarlet Witch again altered reality, this time eliminating the X-gene from the vast majority of the world's mutants, rendering them human. Among the depowered are Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto, the two leaders of modern mutant thought. In addition, new mutant births - previously a possibility even for two human parents - cease. Because of their extremely reduced numbers, mutants are no longer considered a viable line of evolution for humanity, and are, like an endangered species, on the brink of extinction.

The weakened position of mutants worldwide leads to increased susceptibility to acts of violence against mutants. With their numbers already in extreme decline, the anti-mutant zealot William Stryker begins a strategic genocide of young mutants living at the Xavier Institute. Meanwhile, world governments begin legislating a series of Superhuman Registration Acts, further pressuring mutants.

The X-Men: Messiah Complex storyline, which ran from 2007 to 2008, offered the possibility of continued existence for the mutant subspecies. The storyline details the birth of a female child with an X-gene, making her the first mutant born since M-Day. After a large battle for custody of the child within the Marvel Comics Universe, the child now resides in the future with Cable, prompting the possibility that the mutant race survives. Additionally, the X-Men have taken residence in San Francisco, California.

As of the mutant population boom of New X-Men, a mutant subculture was gaining popularity.

It is not uncommon for mutants to adopt a new name for themselves aside from their legal names, often considered to be a code name. These names were originally used by the X-Men as a way to hide their secret identities and by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as a manner to reject their human ancestry. This practice has seemingly spread into everyday use for civilian mutants as well. Some mutants, however, prefer their given names.

Two famous singers are mutants within the Marvel Universe: The Dazzler and Lila Cheney. Several mutant bands are mentioned, called Juggernaut, Sentinel Bait, and Cerebrastorm.

Mutants face a great deal of anti-mutant sentiments. "Mutie" and "Gene Joke", are common slurs used against mutants, particularly by younger people. The anti-mutant hate group the Purifiers also uses the term often. In Genosha, the term "genejoke" was also widespread.

Many mutants use the terms "baseline" and "flatscan" to refer to non-mutant humans. Both terms can be either neutral or pejorative depending on context.

Occasionally, the genetic potential of mutants is ranked on a scale named after the Greek alphabet. This roughly-defined scale usually attempts to categorize the genetic potential of a mutant individual's powers rather than their current ability to control their own powers, though specific usage seems to vary depending on the writer. Marvel Comics has never officially defined the following terms, but characters and writers use them with relative consistency. The lack of concrete definitions, however, has caused much controversy and discussion within the fan base and fandom.

A similar hierarchy of mutant powers is briefly mentioned in X-Men: The Last Stand. In that mythos, mutants are separated in to a one-to-five numerical class structure with the highest mentioned as Class 5. All the Brotherhood mutants were class 3 or below (possible exceptions being Juggernaut, Multiple Man) with Magneto, Mystique, Pyro, and (presumably) Professor Xavier and most of the X-Men being class 4. Jean Grey aka Phoenix is the only mentioned Class 5 mutant. This is also the mythos in the new animated series, Wolverine and the X-Men, where Scott asks Emma Frost why she cannot make psychic contact with the missing Jean Grey, saying that she is a Class 5 Mutant and should be detectable.

An Omega-level mutant is one with the most powerful genetic potential of their mutant abilities. The term was first seen in the 1986 issue Uncanny X-Men #207, but was completely unexplained (beyond the obvious implication of it referring to an exceptional level of power). The term was not seen again until the 2001 limited series X-Men Forever. Some abilities depicted by mutants described as Omega-level include immortality, extreme manipulation of matter and energy, high psionic ability, strong telekinesis, and the potential to exist beyond the boundaries of the known physical universe. No firm definition has been offered in comics, but the term clearly refers to extraordinarily powerful mutants, such as Iceman, Nate Grey, Jean Grey, Vulcan, Rachel Summers, Elixir, Legion, Franklin Richards and Magneto, among others.

Since 2001, however, writers still used alternate terminology to describe mutants that have powers beyond that of Homo superior. Mr. Immortal, for example, is (self-) described as Homo supreme. Marvel has not created any specific criteria for characters to be defined as omega-level mutants. This has led to continued and repeated ambiguities in the term's usage. Chamber is referred to as “a potentially Omega-level mutant running around” and Storm is described by S.H.I.E.L.D. as a "possible Omega-level mutant." Most of the reality-warping mutants presented have been implied to be Omega-level. Some of these include Mad Jim Jaspers, Scarlet Witch, Proteus, and the above mentioned Franklin Richards.

The fact that characters like Iceman are considered Omega-level mutants suggests that mutants reach a certain stage in their evolution when they merge with their given power. Further evidence of this would be Storm, who has the potential to evolve into an "Elemental" as seen in the pages of X-Men during "The Twelve" Storyline, as with Magneto in "X-Men: The End" at which point Magneto turned into a being composed purely of energy as well.

The Alpha-level and other levels constitute potential below that of the Omega-level.

Danny Fingeroth writes extensively in his book Superman on the Couch about the appeal of mutants and their meaning to society. He writes, "The most popular pop culture franchises are those that make the viewer/reader feel special and unique, while simultaneously making him or her feel he or she is part of a mass of people experiencing and enjoying the same phenomenon. The plight of the mutants is universally compelling. Many people feel a need for a surrogate family, one composed of those the world has abused and persecuted in the same way they have been their whole life. This is especially true in adolescences, which may in part explain some of the draw of mutants." An obvious parallel between homosexuality and mutation is drawn in the film X2, where Iceman's mother asks, "Have you tried not being a mutant?" This question (or various forms thereof) is common among parents who find out their children are gay.

Linkages have also been drawn between mutants and practitioners of Judaism. In the film versions of X-Men, Magneto's real name is given as Erik Leinsherr, and he is described as a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. Signifiicantly, many creators and designers of comic characters are or were themselves Jewish.

The universe within the Marvel Comics cosmology holds a multiverse structure, and in such, there exist many parallel realities. The situations and circumstances of mutants within these multiverses differs.

In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Wolverine is the first mutant as revealed in the first issue of the Ultimate Origins miniseries. The mutant gene is created by accident in order to recreate the experiment that led to Captain America. Most characters in the universe seem unaware of this and it is unclear how the gene spread beyond Wolverine.

An alternative claim was made by Lilandra Neramani of the Shi'ar cult in Ultimate X-Men issue #67 that the Phoenix is imprisoned inside the Earth, and is responsible for creating mutants and several other advancements in human evolution. However it is unknown if this statement will be supported by subsequent stories.

Mutants in the Ultimate universe are even more controversial than in the mainstream Marvel Universe: for instance, in the first issue of Ultimate X-Men, Sentinel robots are seen killing people on the streets, with a news reporter calmly announcing that a "nest" of mutants has been exterminated.

Though mutants are also referred to in the Ultimate universe as Homo superior, particularly by mutant-supremacists such as Magneto; in Ultimate Nightmare #1, Charles Xavier uses the more neutral term Homo sapiens novus (coincidentally, this is also the scientific term for the superhuman Novas of White Wolf, Inc.'s role playing game Aberrant).

Ultimate Origins #1 reveals that the mutant genome was the result of experimentation on James Howlett by the Weapon X Project in 1943.

In Marvel 1602, set in an altered reality in the year 1602, mutants are called witchbreed and are believed to be the offspring of witches and the Devil. They are hunted and executed by the Inquisition. The two major factions of witchbreed are Carlos Javier's followers gathered at Carlos Javier's Select College for the Sons of Gentlefolk and the Brotherhood of Those Who Will Inherit the Earth gathered by the Grand Inquisitor Enrique, who executes the witchbreed, or "mutantur" ("changing ones") according to Javier, who cannot pass as normal humans (with the exception of Toad, his agent of the Vatican), and spares those who can pass as regular humans.

The Earth X series stated that the Celestials reproduce by implanting an "egg" at the core of the planet, and use the genetically modified dominant species (in Earth's case, mutants) to protect the egg from Galactus until it hatches. However, Marvel editors officially declared that anything stated in Earth X would not necessarily be canonical.

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Daredevil (Marvel Comics)

Daredevil's first costume, from Daredevil #1 (April 1964). Splash-page art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and Bill Everett (inker).[1].

Daredevil is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Daredevil #1 (April 1964) and was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett, with an unspecified amount of input from Jack Kirby. Daredevil is notable as being among the few superheroes with a disability, having been blinded as a youth in a radioactive accident that also drastically heightened his remaining senses and gave him a "radar-sense" allowing him to perceive his surroundings. His civilian identity is lawyer Matt Murdock.

Although Daredevil had been home to the work of many legendary comic-book artists — Everett, Kirby, Wally Wood, John Romita, Sr., and Gene Colan, among others — it is Frank Miller's influential tenure on the title in the late 1970s and early 1980s that is best remembered, cementing the character as a popular and influential part of the Marvel Universe.

The character debuted in Daredevil #1 (April 1964) and was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett, with character-design input from Jack Kirby. When Everett turned in his first-issue pencils extremely late, Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky and Spider-Man artist and co-creator Steve Ditko inked "a lot of backgrounds and secondary figures on the fly and cobbled the cover and the splash page together from Kirby's original concept drawing".

The first issue covered both his origins and his desire for revenge on the men who had killed his father, boxer "Battling Jack" Murdock, who raised young Matthew Murdock in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Jack instills in Matt the importance of education and nonviolence with the aim of seeing his son become a better man than himself. In the course of saving a blind man from the path of an oncoming truck, Matt is blinded by a radioactive substance that falls from the vehicle. The radioactive exposure heightens his remaining senses beyond normal human thresholds, enabling him to detect the shape and location of objects around him.In order to support his son, Jack Murdock returns to boxing and when he refuses to throw a fight is killed by gangsters. Adorned in a yellow and black costume made from his father's boxing robes, renamed with the moniker of his childhood derision, and using his superhuman abilities, Matt confronts the killers as the superhero Daredevil.

Daredevil's original costume was a combination of black, yellow and red, reminiscent of acrobat tights, and went through minor revisions in issues #2 through #4 by EC Comics artist Joe Orlando. Fellow acclaimed EC veteran Wally Wood penciled #5-8, introducing the modern, completely red costume in issue #7. Golden Age great Bob Powell (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle) penciled two issues over Wood layouts, and they then swapped for #11, which Wood inked over Powell's pencils.

Romita later elaborated that "Stan showed me Dick Ayers' splash page for a Daredevil. He asked me, "What would you do with this page?" I showed him on a tracing paper what I would do, and then he asked me to do a drawing of Daredevil the way I would do it. I did a big drawing of Daredevil ... just a big, tracing-paper drawing of Daredevil swinging. And Stan loved it".

When Romita left to take over The Amazing Spider-Man, Lee gave Daredevil to what would be the character's first signature artist, Gene Colan, who began with issue #20 (Sept. 1966). Colan pencilled all but three issues through #100 (June 1973), plus the 1967 annual, followed by ten issues sprinkled from 1974-79. (He would return again, an established legend, for an eight-issue run in 1997).

Daredevil embarks on a series of colorful adventures involving such villains as the Owl, Stilt-Man, the Gladiator, and the Enforcers. Daredevil's early exploits were often large, swashbuckling adventures, and sub-plots involved romantic triangles between Matt, Karen and Foggy and cases of mistaken identity. He also meets Spider-Man during this time.

Much like in The Amazing Spider-Man — and in what was already an established hallmark of Marvel Comics storytelling — interpersonal drama was as central to the series as action and adventure. A triangle of unrequited love develops between Foggy Nelson, Karen Page and Murdock, with Nelson unable to win over Page and Matt unable to admit that Page loves anyone other than Daredevil. Among the notable plot developments during this period were Matt Murdock's panicky creation of a "twin brother", the "sighted" and devil-may-care Mike Murdock, in #25 (Feb. 1967), whom Karen Page and Foggy Nelson are led to believe is Daredevil; "Mike's" death in #41 (June 1968); and Matt revealing his Daredevil identity to Karen Page in #57 (Oct. 1969). When the revelation of Murdock's dual identity proves too much for Page, she leaves the firm and the comic.

In the 1970s the title featured a double billing, co-starring Daredevil's girlfriend, the Black Widow. The narrative had Daredevil move to San Francisco for a time to live with the spy and super-heroine the Black Widow, and enters into a romantic relationship with her but she soon ends the relationship, fearing that playing "sidekick" to Daredevil is sublimating her identity. Murdock returns to Hell's Kitchen. During this time, the series' writers included Gerry Conway, Steve Gerber and Chris Claremont. Artists included Bob Brown and Don Heck.

Comics-artist legend Wally Wood, following kidney failure and the loss of vision in one eye, returned to the character he helped define, inking Miller's cover of Daredevil #164 (May 1980). It was one of Wood's final assignments before his death in 1981.

The modern definition of Daredevil began in 1979 with Frank Miller's entrance on the title. Miller's first contributions were as an artist, where he imbued a new dynamism and a dramatically different visual style. The series' tone became that of noir with Hell's Kitchen itself playing a more prominent role.

With issue #168, Miller additionally became the series' writer, and the comic underwent a drastic metamorphosis. The most significant change was the introduction of Spider-Man villain Kingpin as Daredevil's new arch-nemesis. Until that point, Daredevil's enemies were primarily, though not exclusively, costumed villains. The Kingpin was a departure in that although he possessed extraordinary size, strength and fighting ability, his villainy came from his ruthless brilliance in running a criminal empire, rather than superpowers. The title still retained costumed antagonists — notably Bullseye and Elektra — but found its central theme to be one more grounded in reality: organized crime.

Miller also introduced ninjas into the Daredevil canon, bringing a greater focus on the martial arts aspect of Daredevil's fighting skills, and introducing the characters Stick and the Hand. This was a drastic change to a character once considered a swashbuckler. The focus of a ninja's control of the inner self served as a counterbalance to the emerging themes of anger and torment.

Daredevil encounters the assassin Bullseye for the first time, and the two battle each other. Eventually, Daredevil's secret identity is deduced by the reporter Ben Urich.

Daredevil encounters the Kingpin, who has hired his old flame Elektra as an assassin, and Daredevil battles her. He returns to his former mentor Stick for aid. Bullseye then murders Elektra in a fight to determine the better killer. Taking revenge, Daredevil drops Bullseye from a clothesline high above a street, Daredevil allies with the Punisher against drug pushers. Daredevil battles the Hand, and Elektra is briefly resurrected.

Miller's noir take on the character continued, even after he left (in 1983, after issue #191). However, successor Dennis O'Neil did not find the commercial success of his predecessor. In late 1985, Miller returned to the series, co-writing #226 with O'Neil, then writing the acclaimed "Daredevil: Born Again" storyline in #227-233 (Feb.-Aug. 1986), with artist David Mazzuchelli. Karen Page eventually returns as a heroin-addicted star of adult films, who sells Daredevil's secret identity for drug money. The Kingpin uses this information to destroy Murdock piece by piece: blowing up his house, ruining his reputation as a lawyer, getting him disbarred, menacing his personal life and nearly driving him insane. Matt suffers a nervous breakdown. Miller ends the story on a positive note, with Murdock reuniting with Karen Page as his sometime lover, and the mother he thought dead, now a nun, and resuming a less complicated life in Hell's Kitchen.

A round-robin of creators contributed in the year that followed Born Again: writers Mark Gruenwald, Danny Fingeroth, Steve Englehart (under the pseudonym "John Harkness") and Ann Nocenti, and pencilers Steve Ditko, Barry Windsor-Smith, Louis Williams, Sal Buscema, Todd McFarlane, Keith Pollard,and Chuck Patton. Longshot co-creator Nocenti, who'd written #236, became the regular writer for a four-and-a-quarter year run of all but two issues from #238-291 (Jan. 1987 - April 1991). John Romita, Jr. joined as penciller from #250-282 (Jan. 1988 - Jul. 1990), and was generally inked by Al Williamson. The team specifically addressed societal issues, with Murdock, now running a non-profit urban legal center, confronting sexism, racism, and nuclear proliferation while fighting supervillains. Nocenti introduced the popular antagonist Typhoid Mary in issue #254.

Daredevil's secret identity becomes public knowledge. Forced to fake his own death and change his uniform to an armored "razor costume", Murdock undergoes one of his numerous breakdowns. The change does not last, and Daredevil soon returns to his traditional red costume, while Murdock finds a way to convince the world that he is not, in fact, secretly Daredevil (courtesy of a deus ex machina doppelgänger).

Under writers Karl Kesel and later Joe Kelly, the book gained a lighter tone, with Daredevil returning to the lighthearted, wisecracking hero depicted by earlier writers. Matt and Foggy (who now knows of Matt's dual identities) join a law firm run by Foggy's mother, Rosalind Sharpe.

Frank Miller returned to the character and his origins with the 1993 five issue mini-series Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. With artist John Romita Jr, expanded upon the characters beginnings and provide additional detail about the life and death of "Battling Jack" Murdock and Matt's first encounters with the Kingpin and Foggy Nelson. The role of Stick in the genesis of daredevil is expanded up as Murdock's doomed love affair with Elektra Natchios, the daughter of a Greek diplomat.

In 1998, Daredevil's numbering was rebooted, with the title "canceled" and revived a month later as part of the Marvel Knights imprint. Joe Quesada drew the new series, written by filmmaker Kevin Smith. Its first eight-issue story arc, "Guardian Devil" depicts Daredevil struggling to protect a child whom he is told could either be the Messiah or the Anti-Christ. Murdock experiences a crisis of faith exacerbated by the discovery that Karen Page has AIDS (later revealed to be a hoax), and her subsequent death at Bullseye's hands.

After "Guardian Devil", Smith was succeeded by writer-artist David Mack, who contributed the seven-issue "Parts of a Hole" (#9-15). This arc introduces Maya Lopez, also known as Echo, a deaf martial artist. Mack brought independent-comics colleague Brian Michael Bendis to Marvel for the following arc, "Wake Up" (#16-19), which follows reporter Ben Urich as he investigates the aftereffects of a fight between Daredevil and an obscure old villain called Leapfrog. Following Mack and Bendis were Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale and artists Phil Winslade and David Ross for the story "Playing to the Camera". Mack continued to contribute covers.

The 2001 miniseries Daredevil: Yellow presented another take on Daredevil's origins using letters written to Karen Page after her death as a narrative device. Here Page believes she is in love with both Daredevil and Murdock, and Nelson with Karen Page, resulting in a silent rivalry between the two men. The supervillains the Owl and the Purple Man are the antagonists. In this story, Daredevil credits Page with coining the phrase "The Man without Fear", and she also suggest to Daredevil he wear red instead of black and yellow.

Issue #26 (Dec. 2001) brought back Brian Michael Bendis, working this time with artist Alex Maleev, for a four-year-run that became one of the series' most acclaimed. Maleev's harsh and grainy look is in contrast to Quesada's more cartoony lines, and distinctively reads like a marriage of Frank Miller's film noir style and the pulp-magazine art of the 1920s and '30s. Developments in this run included the introduction of romantic interest and future wife Milla Donovan, the outing of Murdock's secret identity to the press, the reemergence of the Kingpin, and Daredevil's surrender to the FBI.

The impact of his expose as Daredevil continued to be used as a plot point by both Bendis and Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark who became the new creative team with Daredevil #82 (Feb. 2006), no longer under the Marvel Knights imprint.

Brubaker's first story on the title saw Murdock imprisoned by the FBI through the machinations of the Kingpin, Foggy Nelson apparently murdered and a mysterious new Daredevil appears in Hell's Kitchen. Murdock escapes with the Punisher during a prison riot and discovers the ersatz Daredevil to be his friend, Hero for Hire Danny Rand, the superhero Iron Fist. It is revealed that Rand has been manipulated by Kingpin's wife, Vanessa Fisk, who was behind both Nelson's attack and the substitute Daredevil. Unbeknownst to Murdock, Nelson is in the Witness Protection Program. At the conclusion of the arc, the characters are reunited and Murdock's secret identity is reintroduced.

Over the next couple of arcs, Brubaker would make use of older characters such as Mister Fear and the Enforcers and newer ones such as The Hood, and his own creation Lady Bullseye.

During the Secret Invasion, Daredevil takes part in the fight against the Skrulls.

Although blind, the character's remaining four senses function with high levels of superhuman accuracy and sensitivity, giving him abilities far beyond the limits of a sighted person. Daredevil can "see" by means of a type of "radar sense" that allows him to sense the proximity of people and objects around him. Daredevil's radar sense is connected with his hearing (thus it is technically a form of sonar, using sound rather than radio waves), as the bouncing of sounds and vibrations off his surroundings enable him to "see" what's happening around him. However, Daredevil's main weakness is his vulnerability to excessive sounds or powerful odors that can be used to incapacitate him or temporarily weaken the effectiveness of his radar sense since his enhanced senses make him more susceptible to them than they would for a person with normal senses.

Though he has no superhuman physical attributes, Daredevil has great natural strength, speed, stamina, agility, and reflexes, due to both extensive training and the heightened sense of balance his superhuman hearing affords him. He has shown himself to be a superb acrobat with abilities that are superior to those of an Olympic-level sighted gymnast. Daredevil's training by Stick has made him into a formidable hand-to-hand combatant. His typical moves are unique blends of the martial arts of Ninjutsu, Jujutsu, and Judo combined with American-style Boxing while making full use of his gymnastics capabilities.

Daredevil's signature weapon is his specially-designed billy club, which he created. Disguised as a blind man's cane in civilian garb, it is a multi-purpose weapon and tool that contains thirty feet of aircraft control cable connected to a case-hardened steel grapnel. Internal mechanisms allow the cable to be neatly wound and unwound, while a powerful spring launches the grapnel. The handle can be straightened for use when throwing. The club can also be split into two parts, one of which is a fighting baton, the other of which ends in a curved hook.

Some stories have depicted Daredevil's suit as being made of a metal mesh as well as being insulated.

As Matt Murdock, Daredevil is a highly skilled criminal defense attorney with an extensive knowledge of the American legal system, even going so far as to defend some of his former adversaries in court.

Within Marvel Comics, few characters endure a love life as convoluted and tortured as Daredevil's. His girlfriends fall roughly into two groups: ordinary women who suffer great pain at his side; and super-powered, highly dangerous love interests. Either way, most end up killed, maimed or traumatized, a narrative aspect some media critics refer to as "Women in Refrigerators" syndrome.

In addition to his mainstream incarnation, Daredevil has had been depicted in other fictional universes, including Marvel 2099 and the Marvel Mangaverse.

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Source : Wikipedia