Daredevil (1st series) #252

Issue Date: 
March 1988
Story Title: 
Ground Zero

Ann Nocenti (writer), John Romita Jr (penciler), Al Williamson (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Max Scheele (colorist), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

As people go about their lives, a man sits in a cell in Hell’s Kitchen and wonders how he will get through the years ahead behind bars. At Matt Murdock’s hotline clinic, Matt, Karen Page and the Black Widow are listening to people who need help, when a boy Matt knows, Cain, rushes in with a kid who was being beaten up. Cain and Matt speak for some time, before one of Matt’s associates arrives with good news - their free clinic has beat a team of high-powered lawyers in court. A boy called Lance watches television in his “bomb-shelter” style room while his father, Bullet, spends time with him. Suddenly, outside, chaos begins, as the sky goes dark, a storm arrives, and buildings start to explode. Lance, and people outside, begin to suspect the end of the world has arrived. In fact, a large ship hovers over New York City, while the Horsemen of Apocalypse go about spreading horror. In the resulting explosions, the imprisoned man manages to escape his cell. Lance’s father wanders off into the night, and Pestilence makes many people ill. There is a blackout, and at the clinic, Matt manages to calm down his clients. He decides they should get to a hospital, and with Karen and the Black Widow, starts to lead them through the city, avoiding the mobs of people who are starting to gather and cause trouble, such as Ammo and his gang. Ammo plans to take over the city, and with his gang, they plan to raid the armory and steal drugs from the hospital. They find the armory unguarded and take it as their own. At the hospital, Matt and Karen liaise with the doctors, and set about helping where they can. Matt and the Black Widow leave after giving Cain some much needed advice, and after changing to Daredevil, Matt and the Black Widow survey the chaos-stricken city. The prisoner who escaped his cell earlier is about to kill a homeless man for his clothes, when he discovers a baby in a trashcan. Reluctantly, he picks the baby up and walks away. Ammo’s gang starts to get restless, and Daredevil observes them after he and the Black Widow inspect the armory. They soon meet up with several vigilantes, and together, decide to prevent Ammo and his gang from causing any more trouble. At the hospital, Cain tries to comfort an injured woman, and when he tells her that the end of the world is taking place, she takes all of the painkillers he has to end her life. Daredevil, the Black Widow and the vigilantes arrive back at the hospital and formulate their plan with the police and military. The Black Widow gives Cain a gun. Daredevil and his allies return to the armory and plant several bombs throughout it, the plan being that when the bombs explode they will force Ammo and his gang out one entrance, enabling them to be captured by Daredevil and the rest. The bombs explode as desired, and Ammo and his gang emerge from the armoury. A battle between the gang and the vigilantes and police follows. When Ammo emerges in a large tank, Daredevil engages him in combat after Ammo shoots two children. Daredevil bears Ammo badly, and while Cain tries to get help for someone who has been injured in gun fire, he soon comes to the realization that everyone is dead and rushes off. Daredevil comes across a woman from Ammo’s gang that the vigilantes and Cain have apprehended. They want to teach her a lesson, but Daredevil intervenes. He is not happy with Cain, and instructs him to keep watch over the woman until the cops get over to her. As the authorities arrive in helicopters, power is restored to Hell’s Kitchen and Lance watches a news report in his “bomb-shelter”. Cain learns from a police officer that there is no end of the world and feels bad about the patient who took all the painkillers. When he is distracted talking to the officer, the girl he was keeping watch over turns around and stabs him. Daredevil hears Cain’s heartbeat skip, and rushes over to the dying boy, who asks him to tell Matt that he fought good. Daredevil almost removes his mask to reveal his identity to the boy, but Cain passes away first. Finally, as darkness fades from the city, the escaped prisoner looks set to take care of the baby from the trashcan.

Full Summary: 

A busy subway train, where people go about their business, reading books, magazines, newspapers… and are lost in their thoughts. ‘I really liked the silver… but will I look like a jerk in such a fancy sports car?’ a middle-aged man thinks to himself. ‘If I accept that teaching job, it means a whole new life! Colorado is pretty…’a woman with large hair tells herself. A skinny man in a suit recalls how Mary said they were just having burgers, but supposes that he could surprise her with a bottle of red. ‘She loves red wine…’ A man surveys the other passengers, ‘Could use some cash for tonight - who looks like they pack a fat wallet?’ he wonders. ‘To the beach, honey?’ a woman asks the young boy she is sitting with. ‘Yeah! Ma says during winter break we’re going south!’ the boy tells the older woman. A short, older an peers over his glasses at his newspaper, ‘Hmmm… got a feeling about Black Streak, maybe I will go to the racetrack Sunday…’ he tells himself.

A young man in a suit reads a magazine, ‘How can this idiot say communism’s an international movement? That’s just not true anymore…’ he thinks to himself, while another man standing nearby bites his fingernail, ‘…man, if that check bounces…’ he worries, unaware that his elbow is shoved into the neck of someone standing nearby. ‘… gonna bite this guy’s elbow…’ they think to themselves. The woman with the big hair flips through a book and decides that Colorado is pretty, while the man who was surveying the other passengers for a fat wallet decides that the hard weight of the gun in his pocket is cool on his leg and feels good, but that these stiffs in here are all too blasted civilized - they would probably gang up on him if he slipped his piece. He decides that later he will pick one off. ‘I’ll let this batch live…hah! Yeah, they’s only living another day at my whim…’ he boasts to himself.

And, in a holding cell in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, a guard watches a small television, while in one of the cells, a man with a black ski-mask style hat sits on the bed. He is going nuts in his first hour in a cell, and wonders how the heck he is going to make it through all those years stretching ahead of him like a long grey highway to nowhere? ‘Burns me up, especially when big lumps like him get to sit outside the bars and gloat’ the man thinks, before calling out ‘Hey you sadist, can’t you turn that tube so I can see it too?’ Without looking at the convict, the guard tells him to bag it and stuff it. ‘From now on, you got no rights. Get used to it, bum!’

Meanwhile, at a Hell’s Kitchen hotline clinic, the foyer is full of people needing assistance. ‘But I know what brats did it…’ one of them exclaims. ‘Still, with no evidence…’ another remarks. ‘Easy, boys!’ someone calls out. ‘He’s a drunk, he feels no pain…’ someone declares. Another decides that Matt has let too many of them crash here - they are just clutter.

Matt Murdock, propped up by his cane, stands next to Karen Page and asks ‘What’s next, Karen? What about the injunction?’ Karen informs Matt that they got the delay, but they could be closed down. Matt wonders if he should file an appeal and try to get his license back. ‘This “ghost lawyering” has its limits…’ He adds that everyone here needs such immediate help, he can’t seem to get around to his own paperwork. Matt turns to where a large woman has got the attention of Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow. ‘…but it’s the third time the brats smashed my wind-shield! I can’t…’ the woman exclaims.

Natasha wonders why she offered to help Matt at this crazy clinic, as she doesn’t have his saintly patience. ‘I can’t take these whiners…’ she admits to herself. Matt tells Karen that he thinks Natasha needs help, and he goes over to the woman. Asking her to calm down, he assures her that he will have a word with his street boys, and he will get those “brats” to cool it. ‘Yeah? Thanks…’ the woman replies, while Natasha watches Matt.

Suddenly, a boy shouts out ‘Matt! Emergency! Kid’s been beat up, bad!’ as he races into the clinic. Matt checks the boy who is probably three years old, and touching the boy’s face, Matt decides that it is moments like this he doesn’t regret being blind - not when he can “see” so much more with the heightened senses he developed to compensate. Natasha watches, stone-faced, while Matt can hear the boy’s blood flowing normally, meaning he has no internal bleeding. ‘Can feel that no bones are damaged’ Matt tells himself, before informing the boy that other than some nasty shiners, he will be fine.

Matt calls out to Natasha, asking her if she can take care of him. ‘He should get some x-rays’ he points out. ‘Why me? I hate kids, I’m an international spy for pity’s sake, I have no time for wiping snot noses…’ Natasha mutters, before calling the kid over. ‘You like ice cream?’ she asks the boy as she walks him to another part of the clinic. ‘No’ the boy tells her.

Matt turns to the older boy, who brought the injured child into the clinic and asks ‘Who beat him up?’ The older boy reports that it was his Mom. ‘I was out on my fire escape, saw this lady getting mad at him for not behaving. She started hitting him…’ his voice trails off. Matt detects that the boy’s heartbeat jumped, and he decides that he is hiding something. ‘Tell me the rest of it, Cain’ Matt asks the boy. ‘Matt, I’m no hero! I don’t know what’s wrong with me but part’a me would’a hit him, too! I mean, I watched her hit him, I let her beat him! I didn’t rush right in…I watched a while, I found it interesting! I had to force myself to go in and stop it…’ Cain admits.

Cain tells Matt that he is like a father to him, that he can fix things. ‘You gotta help me… I got so many dark thoughts, Matt…’ Cain’s voice trails off, as Matt puts a hand on Cain’s shoulder and tells him that they all do - but that the important thing is that he conquered his thoughts and did save the boy. ‘You don’t get it, Matt. You’re good by instinct, you can’t be any other way. Me, I’m missing that instinct!’ Cain exclaims. ‘Guys like you just make me realize like a hard slap in the face that I’m missing something. That good stuff, it’s missing in me…’ Cain’s voice trails off, as Matt starts to say something, before his radar goes off, and he detects that someone is moving towards him - and fast.

‘Matt, we won!’ a man exclaims, wrapping his arms around Matt. ‘They had an army of lawyers, but your brilliant angle on the case won the jurors!’ another man in a suit exclaims. ‘David, you won, your delivery must have…’ Matt’s voice trails off as David tells him that it doesn’t matter, as they both won - the clinic won. ‘You’re right! Yahoo! Our first winner!’ Matt exclaims, raising his cane into the air. ‘To justice!’ someone shouts. ‘Awright!’ Cain exclaims.

Matt and Karen hug, as Matt tells Karen that it is working - their little free clinic, beating teams of high-powered expensive lawyers. ‘Did you ever doubt it would work? Matt Murdock, you can do anything!’ Karen exclaims. ‘The little guy wins!’ someone calls out. ‘High five, baby!’ someone shouts.

Elsewhere in Hell’s Kitchen, a little boy is watching television, as a reporter announces that the entire community showed up to help rebuild the destroyed house. ‘Wow…’ the little boy exclaims. The room is filled with boxes and piles of paper, as a large man sitting on a mattress on the floor calls the boy Lance and tells him not to listen to those lies. ‘A heart-warming event…’ the reporter remarks, as the large man tells Lance that television is a sleazy racket, that they make up all that bad news to keep everybody scared and paranoid so people will be grateful for the wimpy police force, then they toss them one of those lame stories about people helping each other, like they are throwing them a chewed bone. ‘More bull. Nobody helps anybody in this world…’ the man declares. He adds that Lance is always complaining that his dad never visits. ‘Well, here I am - and you stay glued to the tube! Watta you hide in here all day for? And when’re you gonna grow outta this bomb shelter stuff?’ the boy’s father asks.

The man smirks at his young son, ‘Why you so afraid of the world? I taught you how to fight and shoot a gun!’ The television screen goes blurry, as Lance tells his father that guns are no help when they have bombs. ‘Hey! What’s that flash a light?’ the boy wonders. ‘TV’s out’ Lance adds. They look out a window, ‘Look! Sky’s glowing and there’s stuff in the air’ Lance tells his father. ‘Must be a hailstorm’ the man remarks, when suddenly, there is a brilliant light in the sky, and part of a nearby building explodes. ‘Thy sky exploded! Daddy! This is it! The end of the world!’ Lance shouts. Wide-eyed, the boy looks scared and backs away from the window, telling his father that it was a nuclear explosion, that they should back up as the radiation is coming. ‘Shut up, Lance, just shut up!’ the father exclaims, while wondering ‘What the heck was that? No bomb I’ve ever seen… is the kid right?’

And outside, civilians caught in the wild weather look to the sky. ‘News didn’t mention rain…’ someone calls out. ‘It’s dark, but the sun’s out…?’ a woman remarks, while a boy declares that this isn’t rain. ‘But what is it?’ he wonders. Suddenly, a burst of light is seen across the sky, there is a mighty noise and someone shouts ‘Look at the sky!’ ‘It’s cracking open!’ another declares. There is another cracking noise, ‘Look out!’ someone exclaims. ‘Danny - was that a bomb?’ another asks - but from the hole in the sky flies the Horseman of Apocalypse known as Death! ‘If this is war - I gotta get home to Kris!’ a woman thinks to herself. ‘A rocket!’ someone shouts, pointing to the sky. ‘It’s a weapon - with wings!’ someone else calls out. ‘Don’t breathe - could be radiation!’ someone suggests. ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven…’ someone begins to pray, while a man calls out to Mary, asking her to hold his hand.

Suddenly, a large object can be seen in the haze-covered sky. ‘What’s that?’ someone gasps as the large craft looms over the city below. ‘It’s attacking! Run!’ another person exclaims. ‘Don’t let go of me! Don’t lose me!’ someone shouts. The large Ship floats across the city, and the bottom of it hit’s the top of the Empire State Building. More cries can be heard from within the city. ‘Mary! Where are you!’ the man calls out. ‘Get under cover!’ someone shouts. ‘Is it Russian?’ someone enquires. ‘Aliens!’ someone shouts. ‘It’s gonna attack!’ another person declares. ‘Grab my hand!’ someone asks. Suddenly, the Horseman of Apocalypse called War claps his hands together, and the tops of several buildings explode. Then, on her mechanical steed, the Horsemen called Pestilence races past the civilians, who all start to keel over. ‘What… can’t breathe…’ someone utters. ‘Ughg…. hurts…’ another gasps. ‘So sick… radiation!’ another declares. ‘Mary… Mary… where…’ the man utters.

While, in the jail, the guard is knocked onto the desk in front of him as an explosion rips open the cell where the prisoner is being held. The man sees that the guard is dead, and declares that he is free. ‘Ha - justice!’ he exclaims. Outside, War causes more explosions throughout the city, while more and more people scream as Pestilence speeds past them. A blinding light starts to glow, ‘What’s that light? It’s blinding!’ someone exclaims. The man calls out to Mary once more, while someone declares that they cannot see. ‘They did it! They dropped the bomb! Stupid - how stupid!’ someone exclaims.

In the apartment-turned bomb-shelter, the boy calls out to his father as the large man opens the door. ‘Dad! Don’t go out there! I got supplies! Food and gas-masks, I’m all ready for this!’ Lance exclaims. His father tells him that he has to go where the action is, and standing in the doorway, Lance asks his father not to leave, pointing out that the radiation will kill him. ‘Daddy! Gone! He’s gone!’ Lance utters, so he goes back to his fuzzy television, and stares at it, up close. ‘The end of the world. Maybe I can watch it on TV’ he hopes - but there is no picture, only static. Suddenly, Lance is plunged into darkness. ‘Black out! Daddy!’ Lance exclaims.

Elsewhere, and everywhere - the entire city is in darkness. ‘Get your hands off of me! Help!’ someone shouts. There is a loud THUNK noise, while someone exclaims ‘Bobby! Don’t breathe it…wrap this around you, baby…’, while someone else declares that they have to go underground - deep down. ‘But food - we’ll starve!’ someone points out. There is a crash, and someone calls out that they can’t move, that their leg is broken. ‘Hold my hand, don’t let go!’ someone tells them. ‘No! Stop! You can’t do that!’ someone shouts. There is another THUNK, before a voice screams ‘Don’t touch me!’ while the man from earlier calls out for Mary again. ‘Air so thick - is it ash or dirt…’ someone wonders. ‘It’s the fallout! Don’t breathe it!’ someone suggests. ‘Who’s that? Whose hand?’ someone demands to know - and when they get no response, they slap the person who touched them. ‘No! I’m sorry! I’m just scared, please… hold me…’ a voice calls out. ‘Okay, hold on’ someone replies.

‘Butch, that you?’ someone asks. ‘Ooooaaa…’ someone utters. ‘Something fell on me… help…’ someone else calls out. ‘Sticky… oh God, blood all over…’ someone declares. ‘Who are you? Hey, you alive?’ a voice asks. ‘Karen? Help me move this’ someone remarks. ‘No, too dark, we could crush him!’ another points out. ‘Watch it! Glass everyone!’ someone alerts the others. Another declares that they need light. ‘So black…black everywhere…no power…’ someone utters, while another suggests that it is the fallout ash, that the air is thick with it. ‘Oh, God, I need a doctor!’ someone mutters. ‘Doctor? No doctors! No nothing! It’s all gone!’ someone shouts. ‘My leg…’ another person declares. ‘Watch it! You’re stepping on me!’ someone mutters. ‘Karen? Do you think…it was nuclear…’ someone asks. Karen replies that she doesn’t know, before someone else shouts ‘Hey! That’s my arm!’

Suddenly: ‘Easy, everyone! Don’t move!’ a commanding voice declares. There is a couple of scratching sounds, ‘Everyone - calm down! This is Matt. I’ve got a light!’ Matt Murdock announces, explaining that he is blind and used to navigating in the darkness. ‘I’ll lead you to safety!’ he assures them, as he lights a piece of wood and holds it up like a torch, a small fire lighting the darkness. Matt instructs everyone to hold hands and link into a human chain, adding that he wants the strong to carry the weak and that they are going to head through the underground subway tunnels to the hospital. ‘I know the way. Just help each other and follow me. And be strong’ he tells them. ‘Cool’ someone calls out. ‘Thank God. Thank God for the one light in the darkness’ another remarks. ‘Huh? Blind leading the blind, more like it. Ain’t nothing out there, pal - but death!’ another person exclaims. As everyone gathers outside, someone remarks that it is creepy out here. ‘So silent…’ another declares. ‘I see shapes - people!’ someone else calls out, while another asks why it is so quiet, like when snow falls - only it’s black ash that is coming down.

Matt leads everyone to an alleyway. ‘To the tunnels. Come on. Slow and careful. Hospital will have supplies to treat the wounded. We’ll set up camp there’ he calls out. He holds the torch out to some stairs which lead down to the subway trains. ‘Why this way?’ someone asks. Matt replies that he doesn’t know if that explosion was nuclear or not, but that the more dirt and concrete there is between you and the radiation the better - just in case. As Matt leads everyone into one of the subway tunnels, he thinks to himself ‘Who am I kidding? That’s probably like putting a band-aid on cancer’. He tells everyone that they need to get to the hospital, as the whole city is numb right now, but once the shock wears off, the streets could erupt with violence. ‘I didn’t like the sound of all that unnatural quiet up there…’ he adds.

And, back up on the street, the people that Matt and his companions saw across the road, gathered around small fires start to stir. ‘Sez here right in the Bible - the world will be consumed by fire…look around you! All I see are empty faces and fire…’ a woman calls out. ‘Cripes, man! Hookers reading Bibles! I don’t wanna live in this new world’ someone mutters. ‘So go jump, old man!’ someone else tells him, adding that this new age is gonna be hot, that the streets are gonna belong to the people again. ‘Shouldn’t we be doing something?’ someone asks. ‘Like what? No radios, no TB, nobody knows nothing! And we got no orders!’ another person points out. ‘But we’re the military…’ someone remarks. ‘Yeah, right. Grunts with no orders, so we do nothing’ another announces.

Nearby: ‘We’ve inherited the Earth!’ someone exclaims. ‘It is the end of the civilized world, the beginning of chaos. No more law no cops no jails no rules. Nobody telling us to pay taxes or drive slow or stand in lines. This world belongs to chaos and to those who know how to tear off a chunk of it and hang on!’ someone calls out. A man with a patch over one eye, a crew cuit hair style, several earrings in each ear and a skin-tight costume with some pouches around his waist steps forward, announcing that the strongest men will win, will dominate and will rule. Fire lights up the area around him, and he declares that a world divided between the victors and the victims. ‘Take your choice!’ A large crowd has gathered, including some small children. ‘Yeah…?’ someone asks. ‘Cool!’ someone else exclaims. The man introduces himself as Ammo, and boasts that he is a victor. ‘You can join me - or be my first victim!’

‘Victors!’ someone in the crowd exclaims. ‘Yeah!’ another shouts. ‘Weapons high! To Ammo!’ another declares. ‘Yeah!’ someone agrees, as they all raise their weapons into the air. ‘Uh-huh’ Ammo sniggers, while someone declares that they need food, fuel and arms. ‘This block’s got it all - a supermarket, a gas station and the armory’ they add. Someone sniff, while another adds that they could use some drugs, so they want a hospital. ‘We hit now while all the wimps out there are still moving slow in the anarchy’ another suggests, while someone else declares that chaos is their element, and in it, they move fast. ‘What will the others eat?’ a young person enquires. ‘Who cares. Let ‘em die’ an older person replies. ‘Victims…’ another remarks. Ammo sniffs something off of his hand, and declares that victims die, and victors live. ‘Your choice’ he tells those gathered before him. ‘I know you, punk. You a bad seed. Always were always will be. You’ll grab what you can and hang on, like the rest of us. I know you’ Ammo calls out, before instructing everyone to move it, that they need weapons and will go to the armory.

Several of them pick up pieces of wood and light them with fire, and like an angry mob, run down the street with their flaming torches. ‘Those with guns take the point! You know what they say - kill ‘em all an’ let God sort ‘em out!’ Ammo quotes. And soon, they come across others, and start to beat them up. ‘No law!’ someone shouts. ‘No rules!’ another exclaims. ‘We’re free! No pigs to stop us!’ another shouts. ‘No jails!’ someone adds as the beatings continue. A scream is torn off at the throat. A heat beats its last. A watch stops ticking. A prayer goes unanswered. A red river begins to flow. A mob moves on. The military who were gathered nearby ready their weapons. ‘Those screams coming this way!’ one of them exclaims. ‘Screams? More like howls, battle cries! Get ready -’ another exclaims, when suddenly, the mob opens fire on the military, shooting them down.

The hooker who was reading the bible looks up ‘Revelations! It’s all here! Emptiness and fire!’ she calls out. ‘What does it matter now?’ one of the mob asks as he walks past her - it’s the young man who asked how the others will eat. ‘Here - take this page from the Bible’ the hooker offers. ‘Why?’ the young man asks. ‘There is still light in your eyes. You aren’t empty yet! You still have a choice!’ she tells him. ‘It’s a new world!’ the young man exclaims as he knocks the Bible out of her hand. ‘And in this world they’ve named me - Bad Seed!’ he announces. The rest of the mob storms the armory, ‘The armory is ours!’ one of them shouts. ‘Find the weapons room!’ Ammo orders. Soon, the mob are in the weapons room. ‘An arsenal! We got it, were set. Fortify this foxhole - then we take the whole street!’ Ammo announces. ‘Soon the entire city will be ours! Ammo - the King of New York!’ one of the others exclaims. ‘That’s it, baby’ Ammo replies.

At the hospital, Matt, Natasha, Karen and the others that were with them have arrived. ‘We got IV’s left?’ someone asks. ‘I need blood here, fast!’ a doctor calls out as he tends to a patient on the floor of the overcrowded hospital. ‘A piece of wood, anything, I need splints!’ someone exclaims, while another announces that they are running out of morphine. ‘I’m sorry. He’s left us’ a doctor reports, shining a torch on someone who has just passed away. Another doctor speaks to Matt and Karen, stating that he is baffled, as the patients exhibit some of the expected symptoms of radiation sickness, but the decline is far too rapid. The doctor explains that he thinks it is some sort of plague, a mockery of radiation sickness. ‘I just don’t know. I’m so tired’ he adds. ‘What can we do?’ Matt enquires, as the doctor reports that the emergency generators are failing and they desperately need a sterilizing system and refrigeration capabilities. ‘You could get out there and steal whatever you can! Torches, ice, flares, freezer trucks…’ his voice trails off. ‘You got it, doctor’ Matt replies.

Matt turns to Karen and asks her if she can handle that, to get herself some help and arm themselves some how, and send off a supply raid. ‘No problem. And you?’ the resourceful Karen replies. Matt explains that he and Natasha had better patrol and troubleshoot. Karen asks about the radiation and wonders if they can wear protection. Matt replies that it would not help, but that his senses tell him this catastrophe was brought on by conventional and perhaps chemical warfare, not nuclear. ‘I hope I’m right’ he adds. Their faces move closer together and Matt tells Karen to be careful out there. ‘Hey, you too, lover. Come back to me in one piece’ Karen tells him. ‘I always do’ Matt replies, before turning to Natasha and asking her if she is ready. ‘Yeah, but you better check the kid there. He’s babbling’ Natasha announces, referring to Cain, who is staring out a window. ‘…this is it this is the end of all over this is it hone nothing left…’ he rambles.


‘Cain! Snap out of it!’ Matt calls out. But Cain tells Matt that he doesn’t understand, for any second a bomb could fly in here and he could lose a leg and an eye and his head. That one second, any moment, boom - limbless, crippled, blind and dead. ‘Or the radiation! Your hair falls out, you get covered with… with…’ his voice trails off, as Matt tells Cain to shut up. ‘Yes - you’re right - this is war. It can happen. It already has happened -’ Matt tells the boy, pointing into the overcrowded waiting room, telling Cain that it is happening in there - the blind, the crippled, the maimed and the dying. ‘But you? You’re still whole and healthy! You got nothing to complain about! So get in there and help’ Matt orders. ‘Yes, Sir!’ Cain replies.

Matt suggests to Natasha that they get far enough away before they change, adding that it may be the end of the world as they knew it, but he would still like to protect their secret identities. Matt and Natasha leave the building, and after changing, race along a rooftop. ’Now let’s see what Daredevil and the Black Widow can do!’ Matt exclaims. They stop at the edge of the rooftop, ’Why are we stopping?’ Natasha asks as she looks out, sees fires raging and smoke rising from the streets towered over by the city’s buildings. Matt shushes Natasha and tells her to listen. ’What are you listening for?’ Natasha asks. ’For what I know is always out there - human nature’s dark side’ Daredevil declares.

A few blocks away, the man who escaped from jail skulks down an alleyway. ’Nobody nowhere. Some kinda apocalypse gig happening. Beats jail’ he tells himself, before coughing, deciding that it is like breathing an ashtray at the moment. ‘Cripes, what a blow-out. I been saved from the gallows by the end of the world, hah. Stuck in a bad joke’ he remarks. He hears a scratching, ‘Huh? Rats in the can’ he wonders, looking at the trash cans lined up along the alleyway. But, when he takes the lid off one, he sees a baby, wrapped in a blanket, looking up at him. ‘Oh, cripes! Abandoned! Poor bugger. Eh, ya better off, runt. Won’t survive no radiated world anyhow’ the man tells the baby, adding that it is better off not growing up. ‘Ya spend your whole life trying to get over all the lousy stuff your parents dump on ya. Then ya finally figure out how to live just in time to die’.

The man turns away from the trashcan and decides that he has to hide these government issue rags. He sees a homeless man leaning against the alleyway wall, bottle in his hand, and approaches the homeless man, grabbing the back of his head, he puts a knife to his throat. ‘Awright, touch break, old man. But I need your clothes’ the escapee announces. The homeless man shorts, ‘Huh? Wha…?’ he asks. Suddenly, there is a crying noise. ‘What’s that? The runt?’ the man realizes, turning back to the trashcan. ‘Hey! You can’t watch! Whatta ya think this is? Et lost, runt!’ the man exclaims as the baby sits up and looks out over the top of the trashcan. ‘I gotta slit the man’s throat here! He deserves some privacy!’ the man shouts. ‘I said quit watching, you little rat!’ the man exclaims, before releasing the homeless man, who gasps for breath.

‘Aw, cripes. I can’t kill with somebody watching’ the man mutter as he walks back over to the trashcan and pulls the baby from it, holding it up. ‘Listen, runt! You’re gonna starve and die in about two days, you got it? So just stay in your can and go peaceful-like!’ The baby coos, and then exclaims ‘Da Da!’ ‘Da Da?’ the man asks. The baby makes some infant noises and says ‘Da Da’ once more. ‘Oh, cripes’ the man mutters, pulling the baby close and hugging it.

Back at the armory: ‘Enough work! Let’s party!’ one of the mob shouts. ‘Yeah! We’re armed to the teeth and splitting bullets!’ another declares. ‘We need drugs, man’ another points out, while someone asks ‘What we building these tanks for? let’s get down to some serious pillage and plunder like proper barbarians!’ Some small children run through the mob and one of them shouts ‘I wanna gun!’ Another man has red markings on his face and declares ‘Yeah - proper blasted barbarians! Yeah!’ and starts to howl. ‘Hit it!’ someone exclaims. ‘Killer!’ another declares. ‘Action!’ someone yells, as they raise their weapons high. Ammo remarks to Bad Seed that they have problems, as these guys can’t trust each other so they have been sleeping with their eyes open - if at all. ‘They’re exhausted, wired, they need drugs…we gotta hit the hospital fast!’ Bad Seed asks Ammo about the radiation.

‘What radiation? I don’t believe in nothing I can’t see with my own eyes. Come on, Bad Seed, let’s draw up a plan of attack’ Ammo tells Bad Seed, unaware that Daredevil is listening and watching through an air vent in the armory. Daredevil starts to crawl out of the vent, ‘A hundred or two. Nice odds’ he thinks to himself, and climbing back out onto the rooftop, where the Black Widow is waiting, he tells her that they are going to hit the hospital. ‘We have to hit them first’ he adds. ‘Gotcha. What about -’ Natasha begins, as Daredevil shushes her, ‘Three heartbeats’ he announces quietly. ‘Behind us!’ Daredevil shouts as two figures leap towards them. Daredevil grabs his attacker and throws him overhead, while the Black Widow tosses hers aside. ‘Cool it! I know this dude!’ the third figure announces, shining his torch at Daredevil. ‘You got a rep. I think we’re on the same side’ the heavily armed man in a military outfit announces.

The man reports that he and his buddies are all Vietnam veterans who have been trying to curb the street violence. ‘You too?’ he asks. Daredevil addresses the vigilantes and tells them that they have found a whole hornet’s nest here. ‘Yeah, Ammo’s gang. We trailed ‘im here. Sorry about the ambush. We mistook you for Ammo’s watchdogs’ one of the Vigilantes reports. Daredevil announces that he is taking this place down. ‘You in?’ he asks. ‘What? You crazy? They got hundreds - we’re five! It’d be a slaughter!’ one of the vigilantes declares, suggesting Daredevil do like them and pick them off slow, wound them and tie them up. He then suggests they could bomb this place. ‘No. Thanks. I’ll do it alone. And no one dies. I’m no killer’ Daredevil tells the vigilantes. One of the vigilantes is sure that Daredevil is crazy and points out that this is war. ‘How we gonna win a battle like this if they’re shooting to kill - and we’re not?’ he asks.

Daredevil states again that he is not a killer, and tells the Widow that they have got to move fast. ‘Wait a minute. You got guts. I’m in, okay?’ one of the vigilantes exclaims. ‘Okay’ Daredevil smiles, and they slap their hands together. The vigilante reveals that he was thinking how he was demolitions back in Vietnam, and he could rig a series of explosions at the doorway supports to block all exits but one and at the same time, release smoke bombs inside, like smoking a hornets’ nest, they will be crippled and have to run right into their hands. ‘I just gotta round up some chemicals’ he adds. ‘Let’s do it, then!’ Daredevil exclaims, as he and the Black Widow start to race back along the rooftop, he announces that he will check the chemicals at the hospital. ‘Meet me there! And hurry - they’re boiling down there and ready to blow!’

Back at the hospital, dozens of beds are lined up in the corridors, ‘Here, Ma’am. Take your pill’ Cain tells a woman who lies on one of the beds. ‘A pain killer?’ the woman enquires. ‘No, we’re all out. This is a sleeping pill’ Cain explains. The woman asks him to be honest with her - ‘Is this the end of the world?’ she asks him. ‘I…yeah, I think so’ Cain replies. ‘Then you tell me - I lost my leg in the explosion - what chance does a one-legged woman have in this new world?’ she asks. ‘I…’ Cain’s voice trails off. ‘What’s it like out there?’ the woman asks. ‘I guess…bad. Anarchy’ Cain tells her. The woman tells Cain to use her food and bed for another. ‘Just give me all those pills and let me die’ she asks. ‘But, lady! No!’ Cain gasps, wide-eyed as the woman takes all of the sleeping pills from him. ‘Look, I want to live, but not in the chaos you say is out there. They’d kill me. Go on, get out of here!’ the woman declares.

Daredevil and the Black Widow have returned, as someone informs Daredevil that the weapons have been distributed, while one of the vigilantes reports that his homemade bombs should be as powerful as the army’s. ‘Good. Now everyone get this straight - Ammo’s gang shoots to kill, but we shoot to wound only’ Daredevil tells everyone who has gathered around him. ‘Matt?’ Cain exclaims as he pushes his way through the crowd. ‘Where’s Matt?’ Cain asks the Black Widow. ‘Busy! Here, quit sniveling and make yourself useful. I won’t need this’ the Black Widow declares, handing her pistol to Cain.

Soon, at the 7th Armory, someone follows Daredevil through the air duct vent system, ‘So dark, how can you tell where you’re going?’ he asks Daredevil, who explains that air currents and the incline of the air shaft help. ‘Mostly we’re pivoting around a central point - I’m using Ammo’s voice for that’. Down in the armory, Ammo and his men have gathered, and Ammo reports that they chuck in some bombs, enough to make a mess and tip them off guard. ‘But only in the wings I’ve marked - we don’t wanna blow up the drug supply’ Ammo points out as they examine the hospital blueprints. ‘I’m lost, how can you hear their voices?’ the man with Daredevil asks as they continue through the vent system, placing a bomb at one location. ‘Good ears. You just concentrate on the explosives’ Daredevil tells his companion. ‘Don’t worry. I know my “ka-booms” They’ll make the exits impassable and the smokers’ll herd that mob right out into our lap’ he replies.

Ammo tells his associates that the hospital is swarming with cops, but that the explosions will draw them out. ‘Kill them all. Once the fighters are dead, the place is ours!’ Ammo declares, while another bomb is placed outside an air vent. ‘Only thing left is the white coats. Stupid doctors’ll be too busy saving patients to fight. We grab a couple of doctors and force ‘em to show us all the drugs’ Ammo declares. ‘Last one’ Daredevil’s associate announces. ‘Let’s go’ Daredevil replies, as the bombs start to tick. One of the mob sniffs some more cocaine off their hand, while another exclaims ‘Hit it!’ ‘We got the power - now we get the juice!’ someone shouts. ‘Rock an roll!’ another declares as everyone starts to get to get ready to leave. One of the timers on the bombs indicates that there is only ninety seconds until detonation. Bad Seed turns to Ammo and remarks that the patients in the hospital will all die. ‘So what? If you don’t got the guts for this, Bad Seed - go join them!’ Ammo reveals that when he was a young punk like Bad Seed, he was thrown into Vietnam - a real war. ‘You hack it fast or you die!’ Ammo exclaims.

Outside, Daredevil, the Black Widow, the vigilantes and as many police as are available are waiting. ‘Five. Four. Three. Two…’ one of them counts down, followed by the unmistakable sound and sight of several bombs detonating. ‘This is the only way out’ one of the vigilantes announces as they stand ready, smoke pouring from the armory, figures start to run out of the one remaining exit. ‘Get read for it -’ the add, as the gagging and coughing can be heard from the mob. ‘My eyes!’ someone shouts. ‘Who…that red -!’ someone exclaims, as Daredevil leaps towards them. ‘Can’t see…’ someone mutters. ‘What’s that?’ another asks. ‘Oh, God!’ someone gasps. ‘NO!’ another shouts. ‘Just shoot!’ one of the mob exclaims, and starts to fire, as the officers and vigilantes engage them. Daredevil is skilled at fighting, and is able to handle several of the mob at once as they swarm around them. Thuds and womps are heard as he slams the mob into each other, creating a large pile of them, which he kicks back, dodging some bullets.

The Black Widow has also engaged the mob, leaping onto one of their backs, she stretches her legs out and kicks two others. Smoke rises from the armor, as more thuds and cries can be heard. ‘My leg!’ someone shouts. Bullets are fired. ‘Oh God! Oh God!’ another declares. The battle rages on, more bullets are fired, more cries, more bashings. Daredevil suddenly looks up, he hears vibrations from the armory and suspects that a large vehicle is moving fast. Indeed, a tank-like vehicle bursts out of the rubble that has closed the armory off, and Ammo emerges from a hatch, firing two machine guns, ‘Eat it, suckers!’ he shouts. ‘No! It’s Ammo - he’s flipped!’ someone in the mob calls out. Another screams, while someone cries ‘He’s killing us all!’ as members of the mob are struck with the bullets, they fall to the ground. Nearby, two small children appear from behind some trash cans. ‘Cool! Lookit Ammo! Pow pow pow!’ one of the kids smiles, waving his own gun about. ‘Lookit me! I can shoot too! I’m - the kid begins, before he is cut off, and the other kid screams as they are gunned down by the many bullets that are fired in their direction.

‘NO!’ Daredevil roars as he rushes up behind the tank, ‘You’re dead Ammo - dead!’ He leaps onto the tank behind Ammo and detects that his guns are mounted forward. ‘He can’t fire back this way’ Daredevil realizes. ‘AMMO!’ Daredevil shouts. ‘Clever, red man’ Ammo mutters, spinning around to face Daredevil. ‘Snuck up on me. Hah, snuck up on my knife’ Ammo declares as he moves forward, knife ready to cut Daredevil, but the hero dodges and grabs Ammo by his wrist. ‘Forget it, Hornhead, I’m the -’ Ammo begins, before crying in pain as Daredevil grips his wrist so tight, causing him to drop the knife. Daredevil then pulls Ammo upwards, ‘HEY!’ the villain exclaims, as Daredevil shoves him down onto the tank, Daredevil punches Ammo over and over, drawing blood. Whacking him again and again, until suddenly, ‘You ain’t killing me, Daredevil!’ Ammo boasts, leaping up, he pushes Daredevil off the tank rooftop, both of them falling into some trashcans nearby.

This gets the attention of the mob, ‘Lookit Daredevil and Ammo!’ someone exclaims. ‘Huh?’ someone else asks. ‘Wild, man!’ another declares. ‘Hand to hand - to the death!’ someone shouts. Ammo uses one of the trashcan lids like a shield and slams it into Daredevil several times, knocking the hero to the ground. Daredevil gathers himself, and pushes the lid back, forcing it into Ammo’s face, bending it around his head.


In a building nearby, a middle-aged couple sit together on the sofa. ‘Oh, the noise!’ the woman exclaims, their living area lit by a candle. ‘Easy, darling. It’ll be over soon’ the man remarks. ‘But what is it? What are they doing?’ the woman asks. ‘It’s only war, dear. The sounds of war. Try not to listen’ the man explains, when suddenly, there is a knock at the door, and a voice cries for help. It’s Cain, and he holds someone on the doorstep as the man looks out the window. ‘Help me please let me in he’s dying he’s heavy gonna die help!’ Cain shouts. ‘Shouldn’t we…’ the woman begins, but the man hushes her and tells her ‘No, no, dear. If you help one you end up helping them all. It’s not our war’ Cain struggles to hold the man up, ‘Hey, hey! Get up! Hey!’ he shouts, but the man dies. ‘You’re dead! No, man - ugh!’ Cain exclaims as he kicks the body off the doorstep. Cain looks around and sees the sidewalk littered with bodies and covered in blood. ‘Oh, God…look at them all - dead, all dead!’ he gasps. ‘Look at them lie there like they’re sleeping so casual like they know each other ugh so familiar so promiscuous like lovers, how horrible…gotta get away still feel his weight still carrying his weight heavy on me… ugh he’s so heavy…’ Cain mumbles as he starts to rush away.


‘Daredevil! Easy, man!’ someone calls out as everyone turns to where Daredevil continues to punch Ammo over and over. ‘We won, Daredevil!’ someone calls out, ‘We got control!’ another exclaims. ‘Let it go, Daredevil!’ someone suggests, while another person assures him that it is over. ‘No, it’s never over!’ Daredevil calls back, when suddenly, his heightened hearing picks up a struggle in an alleyway a block away. He races there, ‘What is this? Let her go!’ Daredevil calls out, as in the alleyway, a group of men has surrounded a woman. ‘Stay out of this, Daredevil!’ one of the men calls back, while another explains that she is from Ammo’s gang and that she tried to blow them up with a grenade. ‘Now she’s ours! She deserves it! Stay out of this!’ someone tells Daredevil. ‘Spoils of war, man’ another remarks. Daredevil realizes Cain is with the group: ‘You too, Cain? You in on this?’ he asks. ‘What he said. Part of war. Our right’ Cain announces.


Daredevil enters the group and pulls the woman free from them. ‘Great, Cain. You’re a big man. Now shut up, all of you. Come with me, girl’ Daredevil declares. ‘And you with the gun - just try it’ Daredevil warns one of the group. ‘Man, don’t do it…’ Cain exclaims as the guy with the gun raises it as Daredevil turns to leave the alleyway. ‘You pretty fearless, red man. But you go against your own men in a war, you better watch it’ the man warns him, adding that there are a lot of stray bullets flying around in a battle, and one of them might find its way into Daredevil’s back. Across the road, the police and military round up the mob, while Cain calls out to Daredevil, telling him that he is sorry. ‘I got confused I’m sorry! Without Matt here, I feel lost…I know I’m bad…’ Cain exclaims. ‘Shut up. You disgust me’ Daredevil tells Cain, before shoving the woman towards him and telling Cain to hold his gun on her until the cops get her in handcuffs.


Suddenly, Daredevil’s radar picks up something in the sky, a rumble, helicopters. He realizes they are coming this way, and that everyone else will hear it soon. Almost instantly, two choppers are illuminated by bright lights above, and a voice is projected from one of the choppers: ‘Get off the streets! This is the US Army! There has been a catastrophe, but it’s all over now! This is not a way! Go home, the electric power is being restored. Turn on your televisions, and await further news! Repeat - this is not a way! Get off the street! Go home!’ Civilians look up from where they are gathered, while the Black Widow approaches Daredevil. ‘That’s it. Never was the end of the world’ Natasha remarks. ‘Amazing how everyone believed it so easily’ Matt replies. ‘Had me going for a while’ Natasha admits. Daredevil tells her that everyone slipped right into the new world, accepted the disaster like it was a familiar face they were always expecting to return. ‘Especially the kids - it was like “Yeah, we always knew the Bogeyman was real”!’ Natasha remarks. Daredevil tells her that it is sad, somewhere in their unconscious minds, they all feel like a nuclear disaster is so inevitable - that when it does hit, they won’t be surprised.


Little Lance is still in his “fall-out shelter” and looks up as the television switches back on, where a report announces that a super battle over Manhattan involving the super team X-Factor battling a giant spaceship, with multiple explosions, made citizens believe it was a nuclear war, and the damage plunged New York’s Hell’s Kitchen into a blackout. Lance is wide-eyed as he listens to the reporter who adds that unidentified chemical warfare caused hundreds to be poisoned, believing they had radiation sickness, and the area became a war zone with the residents actually believing that it was the end of the world, while army and navy troops have filled the city, restoring order.


‘Officer?’ Cain calls out as he holds the gun to the girl, and looks over at a police officer. ‘What’s everyone saying? You mean it wasn’t a nuclear explosion? There’s no war…? No end of the world…?’ he asks. The officer looks over and laughs, telling Cain that life goes on - it is far from over. ‘The one-legged lady…I told her it was the end…she could have made it! What have I done? I killed her! Where’s Matt? I need him…’ Cain thinks to himself, worried. The girl he is holding the gun to sees that there are cops everywhere, and knows they have her for looting. ‘I ain’t going to no slammer…gotta get ridda the boy-girl’ she tells herself, as she pulls a knife from her jacket pocket, spins around and shoves it into Cain’s stomach.


Nearby, Daredevil hears a heartbeat jump - skipped - it’s Cain! Daredevil rushes over to where Cain’s body lies slumped on the sidewalk, the girl has vanished. ‘Cain!’ he shouts. ‘Matt?’ Cain utters, as Daredevil crouches over him. ‘No, it’s Daredevil…’ Matt replies. ‘Daredevil? Please…say goodbye to Matt for me’ Cain utters, adding that Matt is like a father to him, and that his clinic was the closest thing he had to a home and a family. ‘Easy, Cain, don’t talk…’ Daredevil replies as he holds the boy. ‘No. it’s over. I’m going. Just listen -’ Cain calls out, asking Daredevil to tell Matt that he fought good, to tell him that he was a good soldier. ‘But, Daredevil - don’t tell him about…before with the girl, okay. I couldn’t stand it if Matt knew about that…uh, I hurt…I wish I could say goodbye to Matt…’ Cain utters. ‘Cain, you can - I’m -’ Daredevil begins as he starts to remove his mask, ‘Tell him…’ Cain gasps, his last breath, as he passes away.


And, a few blocks away, the man who escaped from jail walks down a clear sidewalk, holding the baby, he remarks ‘And it’s real zen, too. Ya see, runt, there’s like these million paths, and you gotta pick just one! Like the one I picked - robbery. Some people’d say it’s rotten, but I believe I’m showing people how they shouldn’t be so attached to their possessions…see I was a hippie once…’ He looks at the baby in the face, adding that there is girls, he has to warn him about them. ‘Ya see, women - Oh, man, I mean you just gotta have ‘em…but at the same time, going out with a girl is kinda like having a wad of gum stuck in your hair…’ ‘Goo!’ the baby utters. ‘Yeah, goo’ the man smiles, before deciding that it might be a bit too early for this stuff, and then he tells the baby that it is okay, as they have all the time in the world.

Characters Involved: 


Black Widow


Karen Page


Death III, Pestilence III, War II (all Horsemen of Apocalypse)






Bad Seed

Gang members



Escaped prisoner




Police officers



Hospital staff

Homeless man



Story Notes: 

This double-sized issue ties into the “Fall of the Mutants” storyline. 

X-Factor’s battle that the reporter refers to can be seen in the classic X-Factor (1st series) #25.

First appearance of Ammo

Written By: