Back when I first read Daredevil by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev, I noticed that Bendis made sure to show when things were happening, and he even gave dates for a few events, so I wondered how well the timeline hung together. I decided to investigate and see if everything “worked,” and it turned out it did, to a certain degree. I love when comics reflect the passage of time, especially when creators are doing it deliberately, so I put this together. This is the third time I’ve posted it, but what the heck, right?
So here’s the deal: This starts from the oldest date in the book and ends with Matt going to jail at the end of issue #81. I will indicate from which issue the date comes, as well, in parentheses. As I pointed out when I first did this, the run holds together fairly well except for “The Golden Age,” which takes place during the 1960s, which is impossible given everything else we find out in the book. That’s okay, though – as comics fans, we tend to let those things wash over us. The big problem in this run is that Bendis gives us definite dates for Matt’s unmasking, so we can build everything from that. This is only a big problem because it means the 1960s simply don’t work, but we’ll just move on from that.
So let’s check it out!
February 1946: Alexander Bont (who is about 37 at the time, as he says he’s 93 in the present) kills Defender and becomes kingpin. How do we know so specifically? His girl mentions that the Feds deported Lucky Luciano, an event which took place in Feb. ’46 (66).
Mid-1960s: Daredevil busts Alexander Bont (66). Obviously, this is impossible, but it’s still pretty clear it’s the 1960s. The cars, the styles, and the fact that Bont looks to be in his late 50s or early 60s speak to this. I don’t care too much about the time discrepancy in this regard – Bendis and Maleev are evoking the early days of Daredevil, and that’s fine, but it’s a point people have made before about superheroes not aging – you can’t refer to stuff that has happened to them in the past, because it will screw everything up. Especially with what Bendis tells us about …
1981: Young Sammy Silke and Richard Fisk see Wilson Fisk and Sammy’s father kill a man (30). It explicitly says “20 years ago” and the issue was published in 2001. See what I mean about tricky?
1989: Matt and Elektra are in college (37). We know this because issue #37, which was published in 2001, says it was “12 years ago.” Matt must have used a time machine to bust Bont.
19 July 2001: The White Tiger thwarts a robbery and gets arrested (38, but the date is given in 39). This is one of the few dates given in the book. The prosecutor specifically mentions that Hector Ayala was arrested on 19 July. It has to be 2001, for reasons discussed below.
20 July 2001: Luke Cage and Danny Rand get Matt to take the White Tiger case (38).
July 2001: Matt and Foggy visit Hector in prison; Luke Cage and Danny Rand visit the punks who know something about the cop-killing (38).
January 2002: Sammy Silke arrives in New York, meets Wilson Fisk, and is denied permission to kill Matt Murdock (29). Later, he meets Richard Fisk, who looks nothing like the Richard Fisk who was The Rose back in the day (27).
March 2002: Silke begins plotting and puts a bounty on Matt (30).
7 April 2002: Matt and Foggy win a huge case; Nitro explodes on the courthouse steps (26). Matt later confronts Fisk, who has no knowledge of the bounty (27).
13 April 2002: Matt finds out more about the bounty and confronts Fisk about it, but he again denies knowledge of it (29).
14 April 2002: Issue #26 came out in October 2001. However, no date is given, so I used the date in issue #32 (see below) to date this. Anyway: Silke confronts Fisk and stabs him (26). Ben Urich is informed of the attack (27). Elektra sends a note to Matt about the bounty and is attacked by Shotgun and Boomerang (28). Vanessa learns of Fisk’s “death” and flies to America (29).
15 April 2002: Vanessa arrives in New York (assuming it took her overnight to get there from Switzerland) and plots revenge (29). Matt talks to Urich about Fisk’s death, while Vanessa gets Fisk out of the country but stays herself (30). Urich tells Matt from where the hit originated, and Matt goes to Falzone, whom Vanessa has already killed; Vanessa kills her son Richard and orders Dini to kill the rest of the conspirators; Silke escapes and goes to the FBI (31).
16 April 2002 (midnight – 3:11 a.m.): Silke gives up Matt to the FBI, but the director says no one is to use the info (32). That night, one of the agents sees Natasha at Matt’s brownstone (33).
17 April 2002: The agent, desperate for money, calls the media (33).
18 April 2002: This is the Zero Point. It’s clearly marked on the cover of issue #32, so I have to build the timeline around it. Anyway: The Globe breaks the story (32), the media descends on Murdock’s place and Foggy tells him it’s time to retire (33). At some point during the day, Nick Fury visits Matt in his office (65). Urich and Peter Parker tell J. Jonah Jameson it’s not true (34). Mr. Hyde shows up and attacks Matt’s brownstone, and Spider-Man helps out (35).
April 2002: Matt meets Captain America in Central Park (65).
4 May 2002: Matt tells Urich they can’t be friends anymore (35).
5 May 2002: Matt holds a press conference (35) and tells the world he’s not Daredevil (36).
26 May 2002: Natasha, disguised, visits the office, where Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are already bodyguards (36). Presumably, later that same night, Matt has dinner with Vanessa, who gives him the name of the FBI agent and tells him she’s sold everything and is leaving the country. Elektra meets Matt because Natasha called her (36).
After this, time may stretch a bit. Bendis doesn’t give us many clues as to when things happen, but I have a feeling that the parts in issue #37 follow soon afterward. Let’s give it a few days, shall we?
1 June 2002: Mr. Ingersol, the lawyer of Mr. Rosenthal (the owner of The Globe), visits Matt and tells him to stick it; Daredevil visits the FBI agent, who promptly disappears (37).
2/3 June 2002: Rosenthal settles, then takes it back (37).
Summer 2002: Jury selection for the White Tiger trial (38); the trial and death of Hector Ayala (39-40).
At some point in the summer of 2002 but before 3 September, Wilson Fisk visits Mary on the set of her soap opera and turns her back into Typhoid Mary (46) and also goes to Bolivia and kills his former lawyer, Dini, who helped Vanessa kill Richard (46). The dates for September 2002 are approximate, obviously, based on when Matt married Milla.
1 September 2002: Matt rescues Milla and the Owl tries to take over Fisk’s territories (41).
2 September 2002: Milla talks to Lori about having a crush on Daredevil; Matt stops a MGH transaction and busts in on the Owl; the Kingpin kills Rosenthal; Milla meets Matt; Luke and Matt argue; Matt and Milla’s first date (all of this from 42-43). At the end of their date, the cops come to Matt’s place and take him into custody over Rosenthal’s murder (44).
3 September 2002: The Owl finds out about Matt and the murder (44). Fisk kills Silke (45). The FBI, with help from Daredevil, shuts down the Owl (45). Typhoid Mary and Fisk break up an intrusion by Sano and the Yakuza (47).
4 September 2002: The FBI visits Fisk at Josie’s Bar (47).
5 September 2002: Milla goes to see Matt; Typhoid Mary attacks him on the street (46). Matt, Luke, and Jessica beat up Mary. Soon after Agent Driver visits Matt, while Bullseye goes to Fisk and offers to kill Matt (48).
5-6 September 2002 (night): Bullseye attacks Milla, but Daredevil beats the crap out of him (49).
10 September 2002: Daredevil beats Fisk and declares himself the new Kingpin (50).
Late September 2002: Daredevil beats up Bullet, as told by the blonde girl who witnessed his beating of Fisk – she says, “It was … a week later. Give or take.” (71)
Late 2002: I’m going to put the events from issue #72 (when Archie Meyers blows up Josie’s Bar) here. The leaves are still on the trees, but this might be an artistic mistake. It’s after Matt takes down Fisk, and everyone seems to be dressed in heavier clothing. So I don’t think it’s in the spring.
Early 2003: Matt for mayor? (56)
Before 4 May 2003: The “Jester Incident,” in which Daredevil rescues the girl from the Jester but then she kills herself after drawing the creepy bogey man thing (73-75). It’s before Matt marries Milla, because when Milla comforts Lynn, the woman whose daughter committed suicide, she’s not wearing a wedding ring, and issue #74 begins with Matt putting it on Milla’s finger. That begs the question: Why did it take Matt so long (5 months) to find Lawrence, the dude who had the demon inside him?
4 May 2003: Matt marries Milla. This is another hard and fast date … unfortunately, there are two of them. In issue #58, Milla tells Urich that she got married on 4 May – “about four months ago” – which jives with the Kingpin going down in September 2002, because it’s been a year, and September is four months after May. In issue #61, the annulment papers clearly state 23 July as the date of the marriage, but that makes no sense, so I’ll ignore it.
6 September 2003: Luke Cage, Reed Richards, Stephen Strange, and Peter Parker meet Matt and berate him (56). This is a strange date. It is clearly just before Sano and the Yakuza attack Matt, but it seems weird that they would meet Matt after a year of playing Kingpin. In issue #65, Bendis says it was soon after he became Kingpin, which makes more sense, but it’s clearly incorrect, because it doesn’t match up with the attack by Sano.
7 September 2003: Urich meets Milla (56). It has been “almost a year to the day” since Matt took down the Kingpin. So I say it’s the 7th.
8 September 2003: Urich talks to Foggy (58).
September 2003: The group in “Decalogue” meets in a church basement (71-75). It’s been a year since Fisk’s beating, as the recap pages during this arc tell us. In issue #75, Agent Driver is still alive, so the meeting has to come before 9 September, when Driver is killed.
9 September 2003: Urich visits the Night Nurse and finds Matt (58). That same day, Sano is released and kills Agent Driver (59).
18 September 2003: Matt and Milla reunite. Matt, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand bust in on Sano and take him out (59-60). Milla leaves Matt (60).
After this, again, the dates get a bit fuzzy. I’m going to give the Black Widow story less than a week after the conclusion of the last one. Milla thinks Matt only married her because he had a nervous breakdown, and she wants an annulment. This has to follow closely on the end of issue #60, when she leaves him, but give her long enough to have the annulment papers drawn up. That’s my rationale, at least.
23 September 2003: Milla wants an annulment. Madame Hydra is captured in Bulgaria (61).
24 September 2003: The Bulgarians want the Black Widow, and Nick Fury warns Natasha about it (61).
25 September 2003: Natasha shows up in New York (61). She and Daredevil beat up Jigsaw (62).
26 September 2003: The papers have the news about Daredevil and the Black Widow in action (61). The director of the CIA puts out a hit on Natasha. Jigsaw makes bail and visits Matt, who kicks him out. Later that day, Quinn shoots at Matt and Natasha during lunch (62). Jigsaw breaks into Matt’s brownstone that night (63).
27 September 2003: Quinn is beaten and Fury takes him away (64). Bendis gives us a tiny clue, at least to the season. When Natasha leaves, the leaves are clearly falling around her and Matt. It’s been a while since I’ve lived in the Northeast, so maybe the leaves fall a bit later. If we want to push this whole story into October 2003, I don’t mind.
Issue #65 is the big 40th anniversary issue. It’s worth noting that at the beginning of the issue, it says Matt’s “outing” was 14 months ago. If we accept that this comes right after issue #64, the outing actually happened 17 months ago, but it’s still pretty cool that Bendis shows how much time is passing. Then, at the end of the issue, Bendis makes a HUGE mistake. On the dossier Del Toro receives about Alexander Bont getting out of prison, it says the date is 7 May 2005. That’s wrong. I could accept the year, but he didn’t get out in the spring. He definitely got out in the winter (see below).
27 November 2003: Bont gets MGH in prison (69).
1 December 2003: Bont gets out of prison (66). It’s snowing, so it has to be winter. That’s why the date of 7 May doesn’t work. Strange screw-up by Bendis.
8 December 2003: Bont kills the fat dude (66).
9 December 2003: Del Toro investigates the murder (67). Bont visits Melvin and blackmails him into helping get Matt (69).
10 December 2003: Del Toro visits Matt and asks about the White Tiger amulet (68-69).
11 December 2003: Matt gets captured by Gladiator (67, even though the event technically occurs in issue #70). Del Toro rescues him, and Bont dies (70).
Finally, we get to “The Murdock Papers,” which definitely takes place in the spring. Since it’s the final story arc, I would put it in the spring of 2004. The weather is nice, the trees are in bloom, but there are still some trees with bare branches. March/April 2004? Why not? Again, it’s fairly straight-forward and doesn’t occur over any significant amount of time. And then Matt’s in prison at the end, setting the stage for Brubaker and Lark.
Although Bendis doesn’t always succeed, it’s nice that he gave his run on Daredevil a sense of time moving forward. It’s kind of cool, and it gave his run a feeling of relevance and, ironically, immediacy. It’s the kind of thing I’d like to see more writers do.
I did one of these for Starman, too, which I’ll repost eventually. I’m sure there are more that I could do, so we’ll see about that!