Daredevil (1st series) #248

Issue Date: 
November 1987
Story Title: 
A Cage in Search of a Bird…

Ann Nocenti (writer), Rick Leonardi (penciler), Al Williamson (inker), Joe Rosen (letters), Petra Scotese (colors), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief), Rick Leonardi & Al Williamson (cover art)

Brief Description: 

Though he has lost his legal license, Matt Murdock/Daredevil feels like a free man. After racing the Fatboys, he meets up with Karen Page who shows him the free clinic she set up. Enraged, Matt storms off but not before he overhears Karen on the phone dealing with a tenant/landlord squabble. Matt, as Daredevil, makes his way over there and promptly realizes he can offer no assistance as Daredevil. Disappointed, Matt makes his way to a park to clear his head where he meets a young boy by the name of Tyrone. After Tyrone dives into the river to retrieve his sailboat, he complains of extreme pain in his eyes. Matt jumps in and saves the boy. As he makes his way to the hospital, Matt “sees” that chemicals are being dumped into the river by Kelco. Matt, as Daredevil, breaks into the Kelco facility that night and discovers what they are manufacturing. When he goes to the police as Matt Murdock, the detective realizes that he’s blind and therefore, can’t use his testimony. After visiting the city records office and learning more about Kelco, Matt decides that it’s time that he and Daredevil work together and makes his way back to the free law clinic. There, he assists the tenant with information he needs to combat his landlord. At that moment, Matt is approached by Bushwacker’s wife, Marilyn, who begs for his assistance in protecting her husband. She fears he’s done bad things (killing mutants) and that a man (Wolverine) is tracking him and threatening his life. Matt promises her that he’ll help her and protect her husband.

Full Summary: 

Tabula rasa. Clean slate. Nothing left to lose. He was blinded so he learned to “see” without eyes. He was robbed of his greatest wealth, his home, his numerous possessions. He found the loss made him lighter. He was humiliated in front of his friends, prosecuted for crimes he did not commit, stripped of his right to practice law. As they ripped away each part of his life, it was if great weights were lifted off him one by one. All these injustices gave him a deeper sense of justice. He lost everything and found a lightness of being that was almost unbearably exhilarating.

Racing the Fatboys across the city, Daredevil asks Darla, Butch and Eightball if they have lead in their shoes. It’s the home stretch. Darla exclaims “oh man” and tells Butch to haul it. Butch calls out to Daredevil that they’ll beat him yet. With his lead, Daredevil states that he must be racin’ turtles. Eightball tells him shut up fancy pants, it ain’t over till it’s over. Eightball tells his buddies to cut loose. Reaching the finish line, a street sign, Daredevil exclaims that he wins. Butch and Darla both reply “darn, shoot, drat, geez.”

Daredevil tells them next time, they should try putting more grease in their wheels. Butch remarks that they’ll never beat ‘im. Daredevil tells him yes he will, they just need to keep at it. Sooner or later, they all get beat. He then asks where Eightball is. Just then, Eightball flies past the finish line and proceeds to crash in front of a horse-drawn carriage. The driver of the carriage tells them good evening and asks them if they would like to indulge in a gentle journey riding the subsurrus of his carriage. Turning to Darla and Butch, Eightball asks them what he just said. Daredevil tells the man that he’s sorry if they scared his horse.

Dismounting his carriage, the man pets his horse and tells them that Molly is used to the discordant din and clamor of the city streets. Eightball exclaims wow, he ain’t never seen a horse up close. Butch asks how the horse can see with her blinders on. The man answers that Molly is a lucky gal. She sees only what is in her path. Who would want to see all that goes on in this city? Most people have blinders up, anyway. Folks only see what they want to see. Helps ‘em get through life. Keeps ‘em focused, keeps ‘em happy.

As the carriage pulls off, Darla asks Daredevil if that means the blind man is the happiest of all. Chuckling, Daredevil tells her he guesses so. The blind man sees best of all. Butch says they’re fulla jive, that ain’t what he meant. When asked, Butch says he meant that everybody’s blind, ‘specially to himself. Eightball disagrees. Daredevil tells them that he can smell the tiny gears turnin’ and burnin’ in their brains. Eightball agrees and says it’s makin’ head hurt. With that, Daredevil takes off. The Fatboys ask if they can help, they wanna fight crime too but Daredevil tells them some other day.

Soon, after a quick clothes change, Matt Murdock stands in an alley while Karen Page is on the other side of the corner. He thinks to himself that she is smelling soooo good. But his radar sense tells him from the way her arm is up, she’s looking at her watch. He’s late, but she’ll forgive him. Once Matt walks up, Karen starts to tell him he’s late but Matt quiets her with a tender kiss. Breaking off their embrace, Matt asks Karen what his big surprise is. Karen points across the street and tells him that big beautiful building is what. She rented it. When Matt asks what for, Karen asks him can’t he see? Oh, gosh, she’s sorry. This is her eternal problem with him. His radar makes him so “sighted,” it’s impossible for her to remember he’s blind, ‘cept when she wants him to read something.

Accompanying him inside the building that has the sign on the door “Drug Hotline and Free Advice Clinic,” Karen tells him she’s gotten one grant already. That’s how she paid for all the phones and stuff. When Matt tells her he doesn’t get it, Karen informs him that she’s rented the space for a few punk parties so they’ll have some capital. As the phone rings, Karen excitedly exclaims that it’s their first call. While she answers it, Matt eavesdrop and hears that it’s a tenant, mad at his landlord. Landlord’s trying to force him out, get richer tenants in. He then thinks to himself that he can’t believe she’s done this. He had a clinic like this once, him and Foggy Nelson. They helped poor people. It was wonderful and thankless.

Taking down the gentleman’s information, Karen hands the phone to Matt. When he slams the phone down on the receiver and hangs up, Karen tells him that was rude. Matt exclaims to her that he’s been disbarred. They took his license away. He’s through with the law. He then asks Karen how she could be so blind. Losing his practice has made him free. She knows that and she’d trap him in that world again? Karen says to him that he misses it, she knows he does. She then asks him what about Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood he’s sworn to protect. They need him. Not as Daredevil, but as Matt Murdock, attorney at law. Leaving, Matt tells Karen he doesn’t exist anymore and adds that Karen doesn’t even know him. Karen answers back that he, Matt, doesn’t even know himself.

Later that day, Daredevil makes his way to the address from the phone conversation he overheard Karen on at the free clinic. He also hears loud voices in the basement. One of them is the voice from the phone call. He’ll show Karen what Daredevil can do!

In the basement, the enraged tenant yells at the landlord that twenty years ago he was grateful to have tenants. No one wanted to live in these warehouse lofts but us artists. They were pioneers. The landlord asks so what, that’s old news. The tenant remarks they broke the ground there. This neighborhood was a ghost town before they got there. The landlord tells him to get with it; he can get ten times the rent he pays. The tenant tells him the building is full of families with children, he can’t cut off their water. It’s humane, monstrous.

Entering the room, Daredevil turns the water back on. The landlord tells Daredevil that he’ll have him arrested for trespassing. This is a commercial building; he doesn’t have to provide service on weekends. And he can raise the rent all he wants, the law backs him. Enraged even further, the tenant tells him this is their home, it’s unfair. Asking if there are no limits to his greed, he goes to push the landlord. Grabbing a pipe, the landlord tells him not to touch him and goes to strike him with the weapon. Stepping in between them, Daredevil grabs the landlord’s arm and tells him to cut it out. When he does, the landlord tells him to let him go or he’ll have him arrested for assault. They don’t scare him. He’s got a lawyer. Commercial tenants have no rights. It’s too bad for these folks, but he has to survive too.

The tenant states they need water. They’re poor, he can’t raise the rent; he’s going to kill his family. The landlord replies too bad. He and his bully friend there can’t muscle their way into fixing things ‘cause he’ll slam them both with a lawsuit. The tenant says he’ll kill him but Daredevil tells him to stop; it’ll only make things worse. The tenant tells Daredevil that he and his fists are no help. He won’t fight now, but he’ll find a lawyer who will. Departing the basement, Daredevil thinks to himself that he’s right. He feels so frustrated, so helpless. These people must have rights. As Matt, as a lawyer he could find a way. No, that part of his life is over.

Later, atop the George Washington Bridge, Matt overlooks the city. It’s a glorious city, his city. The Kingpin tried to take her and everything else in his life away from him. All he did was make him free. Hmmm… He might as well keep walking over the bridge and into New Jersey. Walking through a park, Matt thinks about the Kingpin. He’s a murdering, conscienceless monster who tried to destroy him and he doesn’t even hate him. He showed him something. The more he tore him down, the more he found out he doesn’t need anything but himself. A free man – he’s got to remember that, hold on to that belief. He’s a free man blast it. Then why does it all suddenly seem to have gone sour?

Looking over at the shoreline next to a lake, Matt sees a young boy playing with a sailboat and wonders why the boy’s heart is beating so fast. Heading over towards the boy, Matt leans down and says to him that is a beautiful sail-boat he has. The young African-American boy thanks him and states that he built it himself. It’s got a radio controller and this is her first sail. He’s real nervous she won’t float right. As the ship makes its way out onto the water, all is going well until it starts to tilt and tips over. Removing his shoes and over-shirt, the boy starts to make his way into the water to set his boat right. Matt asks him if the water is too dirty to go in but the boy answers “nah.” Whole planet’s made ‘a dirt. Dirt can’t hurt ya.

As the young boy dives into the water, Matt thinks to himself neat kid. He dove underwater to come up under the boat. Just then, Matt senses a strange sound under the water, like the gurgle of plumbing and a chemical smell rush of liquid. He’s gotta pinpoint that. At that moment, the young boy emerges from the water and screams that he can’t see. Diving into the water, Matt pulls the boy out of the water. While he does, he thinks to himself that it happened so fast. He sensed it, saw it coming, like a slow car wreck. Saw it hit, and he couldn’t stop it. Blast! All his super-senses weren’t good enough.

As he carries the boy up the steps, the boy holds his eyes and exclaims that he’s blind and that his eyes hurt. Matt assures him that he’s not blind. He then thinks to himself that he can’t be; he was blinded by radioactive waste. He can’t let this happen to him. Just then, he hears a sound and senses a truck starting up. It was dumping something. That same smell. Must be an underground pipe that lets it into the river. He could follow, nail that scum but first he’s got to get the boy quickly to the hospital.

Elsewhere, Foggy Nelson sits in his plush office while Glori looks out the window. She says to her impressive view, huh. So now he has a whole battalion of researchers at his disposal. Like he’s gotta start defending this Jersey chemical plant – Kelco, right? He has five guys to do the ground work for him, that makes him a big shot. Glori asks what he could be defendin’. Foggy states that Kelco’s waste disposal system’s not up to snuff and some grassroots class action suit’s on them for that and for the toxic smoke the adhesive by-products give off. Glori asks him why be defendin’ them, sounds like he should be after closin’ the likes of them down. If they be hurtin’ the good earth…

Foggy replies they’re talking about upholding the metaphysics of justice here. Everyone… Glori cuts him off and says “deserves a defense.” She knows. And that’s what they be payin’ him for that obscene salary for, to defend the indefensible, and win. Foggy says to her that he thought she was real proud of him. He can buy her anything. Glori agrees that he’s doing well, but ‘tis hard to help but think how Matt would be seein’ all this.

Foggy says “Matt, Matt, always Matt.” Well, he thinks of him too. Matt had an irrepressible, unflagging sense of justice. He feels kinda lost without him. Putting his feet up on his desk, he tells Glori to take a picture of his executive view. Glori tells him any tourist can take that shot. There be far more interesting shots than the merely beautiful. Foggy asks him and Glori proceeds to take a picture of him.

Upstairs, Kingpin asks his associate if Foggy Nelson took the case. His associate informs him that he did and then adds that Foggy asked who ran this law firm. He told him an amalgam of corporations and stock holders. Kingpin replies good. His associate then asks Kingpin why not just clean up Kelco’s act. It’d be cheaper than fighting this. Kingpin tells him no. Kelco stays good and dirty, so dirty only one man could clean it up.

Later that night, Daredevil hops the barb-wired fence at the Kelco chemical plant. As he does, he says the peculiar stink of that chemical made it easy to track. It burned a clear, rotten trail right from Tyrone’s eyes to there – Kelco Industrials. Makers of batteries and adhesives; blinders of small boys.

Entering the warehouse, he says it’s time to break and enter. Any evidence Daredevil finds is gotten illegally and therefore inadmissible. Too bad for Kelco, ‘cause he’ll find a way to use it. Flipping through some documents, he notices that his fingertips are getting very sensitive. He thinks they “read” as fast as his eyes used to. He discovers that they type on the documents has been tampered with, some discrepancies in the manifests. Kelco sure has a lot of branch companies and subsidiaries. Interesting, maybe they need them to hide things in.

Finding the vats, Daredevil discovers that is where they make the adhesives. On one of them, he finds the stink, the chemical, isolated to one tank. He’ll memorize the chemical compound but, what if it’s in too common, used in many products? They’ll see. Continuing his way through the warehouse, he says something’s rotten there. How’s Kelco avoiding the regulatory commissions? Who’s checking their records? Who’s protecting Kelco? His senses can acquire all the evidence he needs to link the chemicals made there to the one dumped in the river but so what? He can’t arrest Kelco, can’t charge them, try them, or hang them. Blast it! He needs the courts, he needs the law, he needs Matt Murdock. And none of it will get Tyrone’s sight back. He’s blind, he’ll always be blind.

Enraged, Daredevil punches a nearby test tube, shattering it. When he does, he realizes that he’s set off some sort of alarm. Something mechanical is approaching him, a heat-seeking defense robot. As the robot confronts him, Daredevil asks what this is for. Why the defense dreadnought? What does Kelco have to hide? Just then, the robot grabs hold of Daredevil’s arm and dispenses tear gas. As tears flow from his eyes, Daredevil remarks stupid robot. You can’t blind a blind man. Proceeding to rip the robot’s arm from its unit, Daredevil commences to destroy the robot with its own arm, all the while telling it that it can’t stop him.

The next morning, at the police station, Matt is sitting at Detective Crockett’s desk with another cop, Tyrone, and Tyrone’s father. Detective Crockett asks Matt what happened as he types the details on his typewriter. Matt answers that’s about it. After he saw the truck pull away, he rushed Tyrone to the hospital. After Crockett states that’s a wrap, the other officer tells Matt they’re relieved he came forward. He must admit, he’s their whole case – a witness who saw the whole thing. He adds that it’s a shame they can only sue the city. If they could only sue some big chemical company. But it would be impossible to link up evidence like that. Matt asks him if they have ever tried. There are always ways…

Detective Crockett interrupts Matt and tells him that he has one more question. He wants him ta tell him. Holding up a picture, he asks him if this is the site of the crime. Staring at the picture, Matt starts to stammer. Detective Crockett proceeds to ask him what is wrong with his eyes and then notices that he can’t see. When he asks Matt if he’s blind, and Matt admits that he is, Crockett asks him how the heck he saw the incident. Crockett then asks him what he’s tryin’ to pull. He’s wastin’ their time. The other officer exclaims this is outrageous. This case has no hope now.

Tyrone’s father says no, he’s gotta help his boy. Tyrone says Matt can see, he knows he can. Matt listens to them and thinks to himself what can he do. He can’t say “You see, I’m Daredevil. I have super-senses.” He’d blow his cover. And what court would believe such a thing as super-senses don’t exist. As he starts to walk away with his head down, Matt says he… he just knew it was happening. The young boy’s father calls out to Matt and calls him a bum; he gave them hope. Grabbing hold of Matt’s hand, Tyrone says to him that he saw his sailboat, he said it was pretty. Don’t lie, he isn’t blind. Why is he pretending to be blind? Don’t do this. He’s blind, he’s gotta help him. As Matt heads out the door, Tyrone continues to call out to him please. He can’t see anything. Help him, don’t run away.

Elsewhere, Bushwacker stands outside a door looking at his notepad. Double checking the address of the “Summers, A.” on his listing, Wacker sees that it’s the right address. Noticing that it’s a girl, Wacker wonders if she’s sexy. Feh, he better keep it all business. When he knocks on the door, the lady on the other side asks hello. After Wacker informs her that he’s a friend of her dad’s and is denied entry, he morphs his right arm into a gun. He thinks to himself that she has a sweet voice. What he wants to see is the look on her face when she knows that this is it. It’s all gonna fly outta her, blast her soul to heaven.

As he kicks in the door, the young lady yells out who, what, no, don’t! When she asks why, Wacker tells her “Hand ‘a God, your moment in the sun” and then shoots her dead. After shooting her, Wacker says look at that – an X off a list, always over too fast. Overwhelms for a second, leaves him emptier than ever. Walking out off the room, he laments that he should’ve stayed a priest. He hopes this anti-mutant craze keeps up. Killin’ mutants pays top rates. He’s gettin’ rich, fast. Pays better than prayin’ for it ever did.

Later, Wacker is at home with his wife, Marilyn. Cuddling up next to him, Marilyn tells him it’s good to see him. She missed him so much, but he hardly ever visits, he never stays long, and it’s always over so fast. He crashes in at weird hours, drags her to bed and then has to go somewhere in a hurry. Wacker says to her that she married her, didn’t he? Marilyn replies that his visits are crazy like fireworks – they leave her spinning and empty. Kissing her on the neck, Wacker tells her not to ruin it by complaining. She always knew he was a hit an’ run man.

He then asks her what’s really buggin’ her. Marilyn tells him that he knows she always worry about what he does all the time; then she found a case of bullets under the bed. Snatching the bullets out of her hands, Wacker angrily tells her to mind her own business. Always snoopin’ and sneakin’ an’ whinin’ and naggin’. Frightened, Marilyn asks him not to look at her like that.

Meanwhile, Wolverine reaches the apartment where the female mutant was killed by Bushwacker. Crashing through the window, he notices this is where the trail ends and that the mutant killed was a girl, a child. Examining the dead body of the girl, Wolverine recognizes that the killer is brutal and fast and always one step ahead of him. A devil, judging and killing his kind – mutants. He’s makin’ him feel like an animal. Makin’ him want to slice him to shreds. He’s thrown all the rules away, driven the man right out of him. All that’s left is the Wolverine. Looking at the frightened expression on the dead mutant’s face, Wolverine pops his claws and swears that he will track and kill Bushwacker or he’ll die trying.

That night, Matt Murdock is in the office of city records. Eventually, he finds what he was looking for. A Kelco subsidiary, a 100% stock company, has no offices, no corporation. It’s just a shell company. But it holds title to a piece of land that it rents to a farmer who doesn’t farm. And that plot of land is the dumping ground by the river. He can not only prove the link between Kelco and the lot, but prove they attempted to hide the link. And a second holding company owns a certain patent, the sole patent to an isolated chemical found only as an additive to Kelco’s adhesive. And he’ll bet he’ll find samples of that same chemical on the dumping lot and in the river. He has all he needs.

He could win this case, sue Kelco for damages to Tyrone, and bring up criminal charges. And then, perhaps even, use the case to force more stringent legislation regarding controls on dumpsites. If he was still a lawyer, but he’s not. He then thinks that Daredevil couldn’t fix things with his fists alone. But Matt couldn’t have gotten all the evidence he needed, either. But together, they did it together. They could win this case, if he was still a lawyer. Standing up, he grabs a book on real estate law and decides perhaps a little reading. Those harassed tenants must have rights.

The next morning, Matt makes his way down the street. As he does, he decides that he can’t put it off any longer. He better change into “costume” before he loses the guts to. Putting on his glasses and pulling out his walking stick, he remarks this hurts. He never intended to do this again. Blast it all. But no one’s afraid of the poor weak confused handicapped blind man and that’s just why he’s so powerful. While he walks down the street, a number of people ask him if he needs any help. Matt tells them no. He hates this but he’s gotta grit his teeth to stand it. It’s all back now, everything he was free of. Moving closer to the clinic, Matt senses there’s chaos in there. So many heartbeats, the place is mobbed. People are sweating, impatient. They all need his help, they’re scared and confused.

Entering the clinic, Matt hears Karen talking on two phones while a lady tells her they can’t afford no lawyer an’ her sister’s hurt bad. The tenant from the apartment building tells another worker, Hilda, that he didn’t get a good look at them. They knocked his glasses off before they beat him. Looking through a book, he mentions there’s so many words in it. How’s he gonna find where his rights are? Hilda tells him first they have to press charges.

The man asks her doesn’t she understand. That Daredevil guy showed up and shoved his landlord around. The landlord thought he had hired Daredevil, so he muscled him back. Upon hearing that, Matt tells the man to close the book. That real estate law book doesn’t cover loft law. He then asks the man if there have been three tenants in his building from 1971 to 1984. When the man replies yes, Matt asks if he has the utility bills to prove it. After the man answers he guesses, Matt tells him then they can draw up the case. They can force his landlord to convert from commercial to residential status. He promises he’ll never get thrown out of his home. The man asks Matt if he’s a lawyer. Matt tells him no but, through him, he’ll defend himself. He guesses he’s a ghost-lawyer.

Shaking Matt’s hand, the man thanks him profusely. At that moment, Hilda points out to Karen who it is. Ecstatic to see him, Karen gives Matt a big hug. Just then, Marilyn, Bushwacker’s wife, enters the clinic and calls out for help. Making her way to Matt, she tells him he’s gotta help her husband. She’s so scared, she thinks he’s gone crazy. She thinks he’s doing something horrible.

After Matt offers her a seat, she tells him this horrible man showed up, said he was tracking her husband and was going to kill him. She found bullets under the bed. Her husband, he’s so wonderful, but she thinks he’s lost his mind. She thinks he hurts people. Please, as his wife, how can she protect him? Can’t she have him committed before he ends up dead? Matt tells her to calm down, they’ll help him. She asks will he, and tells Matt to promise her not to let anybody hurt him. Matt tells her he promises her; he’ll do his best not to let anyone hurt him.

Characters Involved: 


Karen Page

Foggy Nelson




Unnamed associate of the Kingpin


Marilyn (Bushwacker’s wife)

Tyrone and his father (young boy injured by Kelco industries)

Detective Crokett

Unnamed mutant (Summers, A. is the name on Bushwacker’s list)

Butch, Darla, and Eightball (all members of the Bratpack/Fatboys)

Various unnamed workers at the free legal clinic (Hilda is the only one named)

Various unnamed patrons of the free legal clinic

Various unnamed residents of Hell’s Kitchen, New York

Story Notes: 

This issue marks the first appearance of Bushwacker.

Matt Murdock lost his license to practice law back in Daredevil (1st series) #227.

Issue Information: 
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