Chapter 7: Daredevil
Peter Parker got out of bed despite his body’s weariness. He healed more rapidly than a normal person thanks to his spider powers, but he had taken a beating thanks to The Shocker and his vibro-blasters. He was sure he didn’t have any internal injuries, but he his ribs were still tender and his back ached.
The sun hadn’t risen yet, but he needed to be up early in order to sell his pictures to Jameson. He allowed himself a few hours of sleep before waking up to develop the pictures that his camera snapped of Spider-Man fighting The Shocker. He chose the best ones (he left out the pictures of the police officers letting him go), and put them in his bag. He grabbed an apple for breakfast, wrote a short note telling his Aunt May that he was leaving early, and headed out into the brisk morning.
It took Peter longer than he anticipated to get to the The Dailey Bugle. He was too sore to web sling there, and by the time he got there via subway, the offices were jamming as usual. He walked straight to the desk of Betty Brant.
“Tell me you got pictures of Spider-Man and The Shocker,” Betty said, not even bothering to say good morning. Jameson must have been in a worse mood than usual.
“I got them,” Peter said.
“Please tell me you brought them here three hours ago,” Betty said, sighing as she opened Jameson’s door. “He wanted you in as soon as you got here.”
“PARKER!” Jameson bellowed. “Where the hell have you been?!” Robbie stood in his usual spot next to Jameson, keeping silent.
“I was up all night developing these,” Peter said, handing the folder of pictures to Jameson. “I have classes too, Mr. Jameson.”
“All I get is excuses,” Jameson said. “I want pictures! You’ve already missed the early edition!”
Peter opened the folder and handed it to Jameson. “A friend called me when he heard about this bank robbery on the police radio,” he said. “I had a hunch Spider-Man would show.”
“A hunch,” Jameson mumbled sarcastically, flipping through the pictures. “You know the robbers got away with the money while Spider-man was tangling with this Shocker character, right? What are the chances those two are in cahoots?”
“They’re always in cahoots,” Peter said, rolling his eyes.
“Peter…” Robbie said softly, looking up from the pictures.
“Excuse me?” Jameson said, lifting his own head.
Peter didn’t know if it was from his soreness, his lack of sleep, or both, but he regretted what he was about to say ever before he said it. “Two days ago Spider-Man was in cahoots with The Vulture in order to flood four floors of a building,” he said. “Every time Spider-Man fights one of these idiot villains, you claim they’re in cahoots. It seems like an awfully far stretch to sell papers.”
“You better watch your tone with me, Parker,” Jameson said.
“Spider-Man saved those officers,” Peter said. “But I’m sure you’ll print something about Spider-Man endangering their lives for fun after he helped those thieves clean out the bank.”
“Was there not a wrecked police car covered in that damn webbing?” Jameson asked.
“That’s not how -”
“It’s right here in your picture,” Jameson said, tossing one of Peter’s pictures towards him. It was a picture of the wreckage caused by The Shocker after he blasted the two police cars into each other. The remnants of Spider-Man’s web were all over the car he had stopped from flipping. Jonah pointed a hairy finger at the car. “Right there. Wrecked car! Webbing!”
“You’re ridiculous,” Peter said.
“Get out off my office,” Jameson said softly. The fact that he didn’t yell it made it all the worse. “Get your check from Miss Brant and get out of my building. I want you to think good and hard on whether your loyalties are to this paper that fattens your wallet or that menace masquerading as a hero before you walk back in here.”
Peter left Jameson’s office, slamming the door on the way out.
“You know he’s right,” Robbie said. “Attitude aside.”
“Don’t you start with me,” Jonah grumbled, flipping through the pictures. He pulled a picture of Spider-Man facing off against The Shocker and the picture of the wrecked police cruisers. “Run these two on the front page with the story about the injured cops and escaped robbers. Run the others wherever you want. You’re in charge for the afternoon, Robbie. I have some business that I have to attend to.”
“What do you need my blood for?” Mac Gargan asked as Dr. Stillwell put the needle into the vein on his right arm.
“I need to see if the serum is having any adverse effects on you,” Dr. Stillwell said.
“I already told you,” Gargan said. “I feel great. Never better in fact.”
Dr. Stillwell didn’t say anything, but that was what worried him the most. Gargan seemed to be able to retain some of the The Scorpion’s stregth and agility long after the serum should have worn off. To be sure of this, Dr. Stillwell had been giving Gargan a diluted version of the formula, but Gargan had been displaying the same results. Dr. Stillwell feared that his serum may have worked too well, permanently transforming Gargan into something that wasn’t completely human.
“Any word from Jameson?” Gargan asked. “Is he satisfied so far?”
“Speak of the devil, and he shall appear,” Jameson said, entering Stillwell’s lab.
“This is unexpected,” Dr. Stillwell said suddenly.
“Don’t look too happy to see me,” Jameson grumbled.
“I’m just surprised,” Dr. Stillwell said. “I wasn’t expecting you.”
“Well I’m here,” Jameson said, “And I want to see how Mac is doing. Spider-Man was out last night flipping police cars and letting bank robbers get away. Where were you?”
“Watching,” Gargan said. “Sizing up my prey.”
“You could have had him!” Jameson snapped. “By the looks of it, Spider-Man was pretty beaten up by that guy in the quilted pajamas. You could have picked him off easily once he was clear of the police.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” Mac asked, smiling a toothy smile.
“All I get from people today is damn excuses,” Jameson said. “I’ve had quite enough of those for one day. Get out there tonight and draw the spider out. Whatever it takes!”
“Yes sir,” Gargan said, continuing to smile.
“The spider!” Gargan shouted, tossing a chair across his empty quarters. He wished he hadn’t agreed to stay here instead of his own apartment / office during this whole Scorpion business. How was he supposed to draw out the spider, anyway? He couldn’t go back to Black Charlie’s after what he did last time. They’d likely ambush him with twenty guys if he showed up again. He didn’t even bother to find out if that damn pimp had lived or died after the assault he gave him from the brass knuckles, and he found it hard to care about it.
“Damn Jameson!” Gargan growled. “He wants this done, but he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. He won’t even throw me a bone!” He took the pile of Dailey Bugles that Dr. Stillwell had been giving him and tossed them across the room. The scattered, spilling the pages all over the floor. His eye caught a paper from nearly six months ago. The front page was a picture of Spider-Man next to one of another hero clad all in red. It was the one they called Daredevil.
Gargan picked up the paper and started reading the article by Ben Ulrich (pictures by Peter Parker of course). It was a description about how Spider-Man and Daredevil had joined forces to take down a mob boss that called himself Hammerhead. The two had apparently been spotted all over New York taking down Hammerhead’s crooks until they worked their way up to the boss.
“Daredevil,” Gargan said, smiling once more. He perused the article to find out where Daredevil’s turf was, and decided that maybe Mac Gargan, Private Investigator, could help The Scorpion find his prey once more.
Josie’s Bar off of South Street, by the Brooklyn Bridge, was full of its regulars. Hustlers were at the pool table, trying to make some extra money. The barstools were full and the glasses were constantly being emptied. There was a roar as men argued, laughed, or did both, but the entire place went silent as a man nobody recognized entered in the bar in a black trench coat and fedora. The shadow from the hat’s brim hid the top half of his face.
“I’m looking for a man,” the man in the trench coat said, walking through the sea of faces. “You may think he’s more than a man, but I know that he is not. Who can help me find the man they call Daredevil?”
Everyone in the bar turned to look at a single man sitting at the bar. He had a dirty, brown jacket on, black skin, and a small afro atop his head. He looked around, feigning confusion. “Why the hell ya’ll gotta be like that?” he asked, taking another sip from his mug.
The man in the trench coat walked up to the bar. The people sitting around decided it was time to move to another place in the bar. “What’s your name, son?” he asked.
“Turk,” he said. “And I ain’t your son.”
“Where can I find Daredevil?” the man asked.
“Damned if I know,” Turk said with a quick laugh. “You think I got his direct number or somethin’?”
The man picked Turk up by his coat, dragged him across the bar, and tossed him onto the pool table, scattering the balls. Some biker snuck up behind him with a pool cue, but the man moved as if he had eyes behind his head, knocking the biker out. The man kept his eyes on Turk, as if he was sure no other sneak attack was coming.
“You don’t know where he is?!” the man shouted, shaking Turk’s head into the table a few times to try and job his memory.
“No!” Turk yelled back in a panic. “He moves like a shadow! Nobody knows how to find him!”
“Then tell me where you scumbags are too afraid to go while he’s prowling in the night,” the man said.
“You know your way around Hell’s Kitchen?” Turk asked, shaking.
“I can get a map,” the man sneered. “Tell me where to go before I lose my damn patience.”
Daredevil listened to the sounds of Hell’s Kitchen at night, perched above it from one of his favorite rooftops. There wasn’t much that escaped his ears. Even though he couldn’t see the city, the sounds and smells made it feel alive to him. He listened to a symphony of men and women talking and shouting. He smelled the scents of the hotdog vendor below him and the Mexican restaurant around the corner. The neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen had always been his home, and he was its protector.
Long before he wore the red Daredevil costume, its mask, and horns, Matt Murdock was a boy in his father’s care. One day, that boy pushed a blind man out of harm’s way. The truck that would have hit the blind man swerved, and a piece of radioactive debris fell from the back, striking Matt in the eyes and blinding him. Matt soon found out that he may have been blinded, but his remaining four senses were heightened exponentially due to whatever was in the radioactive material that hit him.
On top of being able to hear, smell and feel with an uncanny ability, he also developed what he called a “radar sense”. He was able to tell what was going on when anything was within his presence thanks to a combined usage of his remaining four senses. Most of his opponents couldn’t even tell that he was blind.
Daredevil heard the distress call from the woman from four blocks over and sprung into action, separating his billy club and exposing the cable between the two parts. He used the grappling hook on one end to swing down, using his radar sense to know where to catch his footing. He hit the ground running, putting the two pieces of his billy club back together. He headed in the direction of the scream.
“Get lost,” The Scorpion whispered. “He’s coming.” The prostitute that he had grabbed off the corner nodded once and took off in the opposite direction. After leaving Josie’s Bar, Gargan lost the trench coat and fedora, put the hood and mask of The Scorpion on, and let his tail hang in its natural state rather than stay wrapped around his midsection. He picked up the first street-walker he could find, and made her scream in various alleys around the neighborhood Turk had sent him to. Now, he heard the hurried footfalls of someone fast approaching, and he knew that his ploy had worked.
“You could have just asked for me,” Daredevil said, stepping into the shadows of the alley. He had evidently heard Scorpion’s final, hushed words to the whore.
“I wanted to be sure you’d show up,” The Scorpion said. “I need you to deliver a message for me.”
“I’m not a messenger,” Daredevil said.
“Oh, but you are,” The Scorpion said, smiling. He lunged toward Daredevil, swinging his tail as he did.
Daredevil heard the appendage swooshing towards him, so he ducked as it passed overhead. He had no idea what it was, but he knew it was heavy based on the sound it made when it hit the brick wall to his left. The alley didn’t give him much room to maneuver, but he could still dodge and fight. Daredevil made an attack of his own. He instinctively knew where his attacker was standing, and lashed out with fury of punches that his boxer father would have been proud of.
His target barely flinched at Daredevil’s fists, and he jumped back to formulate another plan, but his enemy was fast as well as strong. An arm connected with his chest, clotheslining him to the ground. He rolled out of the way as his assailants foot came down, and he felt the ground tremble beneath its force.
Daredevil separated his billy club again, allowing the wire between the two parts circle around the leg of whoever he was fighting. He pulled back with all his might, sending his opponent towards the earth, but he had used something to steady himself. Daredevil heard the ground crack as the extra arm held pushed back.
“Who are you?” Daredevil asked, readying himself for the fight.
“I am The Scorpion,” he said.
At least now Daredevil knew what the appendage was. He pictured a man with a scorpion’s tale in his mind as he began to fight again. Daredevil used his radar sense to anticipate Scorpion’s moves. Whoever this was, was a brawler, plain and simple. He followed a few missed jabs with a haymaker, and Daredevil was able to duck or weave out of the way of the punches.
“Stand still!” The Scorpion shouted, lashing out with his tail. It struck a metal-barred window, creating a loud clang. The sound rang in Daredevil’s hyper-sensitvie ears, causing him to lose focus for just a moment, but that was all that The Scorpion needed.
A large fist connected with Daredevil’s temple, and his world blurred in a flash of white. A vice-like hand gripped his throat, and he was picked up so that he was face to face with his enemy. “Now for my message,” The Scorpion said, his voice dripping with malice. “Tell your friend, Spider-Man, that The Scorpion is coming for him next.”
The Scorpion tossed Daredevil aside like a rag doll, and turned to leave the alley where the two had their brief fight. “Why don’t you finish what you started,” Daredevil said, getting air back into his lungs.
The Scorpion turned and laughed. “Something about Spider-Man gets you off, doesn’t it?” he asked, walking back towards Daredevil. “You want me to punctuate my request? Fine.” The Scorpion lunged once more, using his tail to propel him. Daredevil expected this, and rolled out of the way as Scorpion’s knee struck the ground.
Daredevil was trained in many forms of fighting, and used his billy club to lash out at the thighs of Scorpion in an effort to slow the big brawler down. Daredevil ducked a backhand, and brought his club into the armpit of Scorpion, hitting a pressure point, but Daredevil had erred. It should have slowed Scorpion down, but the arm came down, smashing Daredevil in the shoulder and rendering his own arm useless. The Scorpion nailed Daredevil with a pump-kick to the stomach before he could reflect on the irony.
The Scorpion swung his tail once more, hitting Daredevil in the ribcage. He hit the wall behind him and fell to the ground where he slowly lost consciousness. “Make sure Spider-Man gets the message,” Scorpion said, walking from the alley.