Learning about the superpowers of a specific character can be fun, especially for people who’re new to reading comics. Daredevil is a popular superhero who fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen. He’s also blind. So, how does a blind man swing from buildings and defeat criminals? The Comic Vault takes a closer look at The Man Without Fear’s powers and how they help him protect the innocent.
As a boy, Matt Murdock was blinded by a radioactive substance while trying to save a man from an oncoming truck. The substance took away his sight, but it heightened the rest of his senses, including touch, taste, smell and hearing. This allowed him to see the world like nobody else could and it came to be known as his radar sense. Daredevil’s radar sense is similar to a bat’s echolocation, which involves the use of sound waves and echoes to determine where objects are.
Up until 1979, the radar sense was only described in a vague way. This changed when Frank Miller came on board and expanded on Daredevil’s powers. He wanted them to be “extraordinary enough to be exciting, but not on par with Superman.” Miller saw how unbelievable Superman’s powers were and wanted to keep Daredevil grounded in reality. Murdock’s radar sense is more akin to a martial artist’s ‘proximity’ sense and plays heavily into touch.
Daredevil’s radar sense allows him to see through walls and grants him an omnidirectional field of vision. However, it does have limitations. Murdock can’t perceive colour without touch and he can only read printed words if the ink is raised enough for his sense of touch. For example, he couldn’t read a book that has laminated pages. In addition, his radar sense is attuned to his superhuman sense of smell. If there was a specific odour in the air, then it could confuse his senses and leave him helpless.
Daredevil’s other senses allow him to do things a normal man can’t do. He’s used his superhuman hearing to act as a polygraph during an interrogation. By listening to the changes in someone’s heartbeat he’s been able to tell if they were lying. But, if a person’s heart isn’t beating at a natural rate then Daredevil can be fooled. This could happen if the person had an artificial pacemaker. His hearing also allows him to detect tiny atmospheric changes moments before a teleporting character arrives.
Murdock also has enhanced reflexes that have given him an edge in combat. He’s combined it into his fighting style as a master martial artist. His typical style features a blend of Aikido, Capoeira, Judo, Ninjutsu and Stick Fighting.
The Man Without Fear’s superhuman senses are his greatest strength and weakness. He’s vulnerable to powerful sounds and smells. If a certain substance lacked taste or smell, then Daredevil would also be vulnerable. There was a time he was given an hallucinogenic drug and he couldn’t detect he’d been drugged.
Daredevil has one of the most grounded powersets of any superhero. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that someone in real life could possess superhuman senses and that makes the character exciting.