In March, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee will move Daredevil from New York City to start a new life in San Francisco.
This will be Daredevil’s second attempt at adapting to life in the Bay Area. He last moved to San Francisco in 1972 while somewhat obsessively crushing on Black Widow. They lived together in a mansion Black Widow rented for a year using the last of her inheritance. (This is in 1972 dollars, so her inheritance would likely only secure her a month’s rent in San Francisco’s current rental market.)
Daredevil’s arrival in San Francisco is well timed as it happens to be the same month Electro decided to move to the Bay Area “to get away from that creep Spider-Man.” Never one to be idle, Electro decides to use his opportunity in a city “uneducated in the matters of supervillainy” for “the total annihilation of San Francisco’s will to resist.” Much to his shock, Electro is defeated by Daredevil and San Francisco’s will is preserved. Imagine what would have happened if Daredevil hadn’t coincidentally moved to San Francisco at the same time as Electro! He might have broken the will of San Francisco, but he could have fulfilled the city’s dream of being powered 100 percent by clean energy (assuming being powered by Electro is considered “clean”).
Living in the Bay Area quickly becomes a frustrating experience. San Francisco’s media proves to be much less dense than New York City’s. In issue 92 a television reporter notes Daredevil and Black Widow showed up at the same time as “a certain trial lawyer known for his connection with that same infamous lady.” The reporter concludes that Murdock and Daredevil are one and the same.
Sadly that reporter never has the opportunity to see a Pulitzer for being the first ever to put facts together and figure out a superhero alias. To save his identity, Murdock asks T’Challa to fly from New York City to San Francisco, put on the Daredevil costume, and appear with him at a news conference. He explains to the reporters that Daredevil used to be his brother Mike (who was really Matt), who died, but before his death asked a new Daredevil to watch over his blind sibling. Therefore, this new Daredevil followed Murdock all the way from New York City to San Francisco and teamed up with Black Widow. Everyone buys it.
All of this should have fallen apart when Peter Parker, on assignment from the Daily Bugle, shows up to interview Daredevil and Black Widow. As Spider-Man he tails them to the Widow Mansion, changes into his civilian clothes, and knocks on the door. Conveniently, Matt Murdock apparently enjoys spending his leisure time in his Daredevil costume, because he’s still in hero gear when Parker is let in the mansion for his unannounced interview. The interview is interrupted by the villain Ram Rod and, of course, Spider-Man appears to lend an assist. Black Widow and Daredevil are confused when Spider-Man “pops up out of nowhere to help us than just swings away into the sunset.” Parker appears moments after Spidey swings away and the heroes never connect the two.
As anyone who reads comics knows a superhero moving to your previously superhero and supervillain free town is bad news. Batman’s Law: Where there’s a hero there will be a villain. If Daredevil was hoping to have an easy life of capturing petty crooks in the Tenderloin it didn’t happen. Electro is followed by the Purple Man, Kraven the Hunter, Stilt Man, and a number of new baddies. The storyline suggests that San Franciscans are thrilled to have Daredevil as their own personal hero, but I can’t imagine they appreciate all of the destruction that comes with him.
A great deal of Daredevil’s time in San Francisco is spent trying to get Black Widow to open up about her feelings. She keeps him emotionally at arms length nearly the entire time they’re in the Bay and refuses his help when secrets from her past threaten her safety.
The tangle of emotions between the heroes gets complicated when Hawkeye shows up brimming with jealousy. He confronts Black Widow on the doorstep of the Widow Mansion and demands she return to him. It’s important to note that the Clint Barton of the 70s was nothing like the Hawkguy we all know and love today; he was arrogant and brash. Daredevil isn’t having any of it and issue 99 turns into an embarrassing brawl between the jealous heroes who stoop to name calling and dirty fighting. It only ends when some Avengers show up to enlist Black Widow and Daredevil.
At the end of the Avengers cross-over issue Black Widow says she wants to stay behind and be an Avenger while she works out her feelings. Her absence lasts one issue and she’s back in issue 101 just as emotionally confused as before.
Everything comes to a head for Daredevil’s adventure in San Francisco when Moon Dragon shows up to “cleanse” San Francisco, because she’s been tricked into thinking its “Thanos-controlled.” The mastermind behind all of this is Matt Murdock’s employer and “San Francisco’s most respected lawyer” Kerwin Broderick. The San Francisco kingpin attorney explains he had complete control of the city’s underworld until Matt Murdock started winning cases and Daredevil started cleaning up the streets. He became hellbent on eliminating both Daredevil and Murdock (not knowing they’re one and the same), so he could once again have control. Somehow this leads to meeting Moon Dragon and taking her power so he could fulfill his dream of being the “King of San Francisco” (well, we already had an Emperor).
During a battle with Broderick’s minions, Moon Dragon is critically wounded. Daredevil could save her, but to do so he needs to see her spaceship’s color coded control panel. Moon Dragon grants him his sight so he can operate the machine and her life is saved.
Of course, learning most of his fighting skills while blind proves to be a problem with they return to the fight. He has no choice but to ask Moon Dragon to blind him again. When Moon Dragon tells him she might not be able to reverse his sight again he explains “It doesn’t matter now. I’ve seen Natasha. That’s what I’ve wanted most of all.” This is sort of a dick thing to say, because a few pages earlier he was gazing longingly into Moon Dragon’s eyes and telling her he wanted to hold her. She takes his sight, but not before he sees tears running down her face.
With Moon Dragon now in the picture Black Widow decides in the heat of battle is the best time to finally have the “feelings” discussion.
If it’s getting confusing, don’t worry! The development of the love triangle subplot is quickly squashed in issue 108 making the introduction of Moon Dragon as a love interest pointless.
Black Widow wants Daredevil to decide who he wants to be with, but he can’t answer. She loses her temper while fighting some purse thieves and when she almost beats one to death Daredevil punches her. She’s insulted that he hit her like she was a criminal and later at the mansion confronts him. She’d probably be even angrier if she could read his thought bubbles: “She’s been incredibly tense ever since we defeated Terrex a couple months back. Ever since Moon Dragon came on the scene, in other words. It’s funny — in a sick sort of way. The great champion of women’s lib is jealous. She loves me.”
While this argument is going on Daredevil sees breaking news that his best friend Foggy Nelson was shot in New York City. He decides he has no choice to abandon San Francisco. He wants Black Widow to go back with him, but she refuses to go, because Foggy tried to put her in prison for murder.
The chance for romance with Black Widow at an end, codependent Daredevil is free to hit on Moon Dragon as she gives him a ride back to NYC in her spaceship. Alas, it is not to be as she uses the opportunity to let him know their “infatuation” can never be anything more and she needs to head into the stars and forget. She tells him that no matter how great his intellect he’d never be able to comprehend what she’s witnessed.
Needless to say, returning to San Francisco can’t be the most pleasant thing for the man without fear. I hope it goes better for him this time.