As the song goes, “Love hurts, love scars.” And then there’s the loves of Daredevil, who just jump ahead to running away or dieing in spectacular fashion. In other words, like being the drummer of Spinal Tap, you often need to proceed with caution if you’re in a relationship with Matt Murdock (can someone warn Matt’s current flame Kristen McDuffie? She seems nice).
Still, Matt’s relationships have long played a key role in Daredevil comics, often defining the character and establishing the series' emotional direction. With that in mind, here are the five greatest loves of Daredevil — all guaranteed to inspire power ballads by bands named Nazareth.
5. Mary Walker
If looks could kill, you’d have Mary Walker, better known by her alias, Typhoid Mary. And boy, did Daredevil's heart break during his brief tryst with Mary — along with everything else. First introduced during the Ann Nocenti/John Romita Jr. Daredevil run in the mid-1980s, Typhoid Mary was indirectly created thanks to Daredevil, when he accidentally knocked her out of a window, leading to her developing psionic powers and telekinesis, along with her true defining trait, dissociative identity disorder.
As Mary, Walker was demure, sweet, and quite the catch. But once her Typhoid Mary persona took over, like her real life namesake, Walker wreaked true havoc on Matt Murdock's life. To add insult to injury, Matt's affair with Mary nearly destroyed his heart-warming reunion with Karen Page following the “Born Again” arc. And then Mary still had to gall to try killing Daredevil once he started to fall in love with her. Talk about ruining the moment.
4. Milla Donovan
How’s this for a first date? You’re crossing the street when you suddenly find yourself in the arms of a swash-buckling superhero who, incidentally, is the most famous man in New York because a newspaper has outed his secret identity. Sounds like a match made in heaven, no?
Milla actually holds the honor of being Mrs. Daredevil for a short while during Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s award-winning run. She and Matt instantly connect over their mutual blindness, plus Milla doesn’t seem to care that Matt’s life is under siege because of that whole secret identity-outing in the press. Unfortunately, she sadly annuls the marriage when she realizes that Matt was actually suffering a nervous breakdown after the death of his ex-girlfriend Karen Page. But at least he saved her life on that first date...always better than dinner and a movie.
3. Natasha Romanoff
Chances are, if you’re a superhero who's dated the heroine known as Black Widow, she is going to appear somewhere on a list ranking your greatest loves. Natasha is not one to frivolously give her heart to any old guy, so when she does get commit, it’s typically a big deal. With Matt, Natasha moved out to San Francisco and was among the very first Marvel heroines to co-headline a book with a male hero.
The Daredevil/Widow relationship also gets points for not ending in a tragic disaster. Years later, some creators still hint that there might be spark between the two, but the relationship has generally remained platonic.
2. Elektra Natchios
Young love can be so sublime — especially when the girl grows up to be a ninja assassin working for the New York City underworld. Elektra has been a phenom since her introduction during the legendary Frank Miller/Klaus Janson run on Daredevil in the 1980s. As Matt’s college sweetheart, Elektra had long been the “one that got away” until she eventually came back and tried to kill Daredevil under the Kingpin's employment.
But her murdering ways didn’t stop Matt from swooning — you might even say that Matt had developed a bit of an Elektra complex. In another tragic ending to Matt's romances, Elektra's death at the hand of Bullseye haunted Daredevil for several years. In fact, it wasn’t until years later when Elektra was resurrected by the Hand (as one does) that Matt was finally able to move on and find (still unsuccessful) relationships elsewhere.
1. Karen Page
Karen’s run the gamut from sweet and innocent assistant to drug-addled sellout, but the one thing she has always been is Matt Murdock’s first and greatest love. Debuting in Daredevil #1, Karen was a core supporting cast-member from the get-go, playiing the mutual love interest for Matt and his law partner Foggy Nelson (i.e., just another schmaltzy Stan Lee love triangle). But the relationship goes south for the lovebirds after Matt reveals his secret identity to her. Unable to cope with Matt's life being in constant danger, Karen flees to the West Coast to become a film actress.
But like all great loves, Matt and Karen would beat the odds and reunite — albeit through unexpected circumstances. Karen’s life takes a sharp turn downward when she betrays Matt’s secret identity in exchange for a heroin fix. (But at least we got the epic “Born Again” storyline out of it). A critical part of Matt’s resurrection in that arc was his ability to reconcile with Karen, setting off a new, more mature romance.
Even then, it wasn't meant to be. This is a Daredevil relationship we’re talking about here, and as this list has shown, they don’t tend to end well. Karen leaves Matt under somewhat amicable circumstances, but she would still join the long list of loves who lost their lives thanks to Daredevil. Bullseye struck again in this instance, using Matt’s own billy club against Karen and triggering Matt’s own downward spiral (sorry Milla).
There are some fans out there who prefer more “exciting loves” like Elektra or Black Widow, but Karen's story with Matt is the kind of stuff you find in Greek tragedies. And as Romeo and Juliet can attest, a star-crossed love can often be the greatest one.