Back in the day, Frank “Whores Galore” Miller ended his legendary run on Daredevil with ‘Born Again’, the story of Matt Murdock’s fall and rise. The book starts with Matt’s former secretary Karen Page addicted to heroin and a porn star (Star may be overstating it.). In exchange for a fix, she sells Daredevil’s secret identity. This eventually makes its way back to Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, who uses it to methodically destroy Murdock’s life. In the original reality, having everything stripped from him, Matt eventually pays a visit to the Kingpin where he gets the everloving shit kicked out of him. Then Fisk dumps his body in a van, sets it on fire, covers it in cement, dunks the cement in acid and tosses it in the river. So when Matt turns out to be alive, it’s kind of a surprise.
In this reality, Matt arrives at Fisk Tower in a state of utter confusion. His life is in the shitter and he’s genuinely trying to convince himself that killing Fisk is a good idea. I mean, it probably is but Daredevil’s not the murder vigilante, that’s the Punisher. And we’re still like ten pages from a Punisher appearance.
Matt easily walks through Fisk’s security. The Kingpin’s been waiting for this moment and can’t wait to finally crush Daredevil with his bear hands (borrowed from third rate supervillain the Grizzly.) Unfortunately, Matt was able to pickpocket one of Fisk’s guards, stealing a gun. And like eight dollars and a picture of the guard’s kids but that isn’t important. Matt barely hesitates before blowing the Kingpin away.
Looking at this picture now, I find it hard to believe one bullet would kill a guy this size but I have no trouble swallowing a guy trapped in a giant rhino costume. The Marvel Universe is a fascinating place.
Still completely off the deep end, but holding onto his grasp of law, Matt heads for the police station to turn himself in. Alas, the place is a little busy from the giant gang war that’s erupted since the Kingpin’s death ten minutes ago. Even more alas, Matt believes himself to be confessing to a police lieutenant but it’s actually just a random wino. Listen, I get that it’s a mental problem that’s making Matt hallucinate a cop instead of this bum but this feels like a really obvious blind joke. So let’s just move on.
All of New York is a-buzzin’ about Matt murdering the Kingpin. The story reaches Ben Urich and Peter Parker at the Daily Bugle. They both go out looking to help Matt but Ben’s a middle aged reporter and therefore uninteresting and so he no longer features in the story.
Also surprised by the Kingpin’s death is mob boss and “Ski Mask Of The Month” subscriber The Rose aka Richard “I’m secretly the Kingpin’s son” Fisk. Fisk’s been attempting to take down his old man for a couple years now, most recently with the help of the Hobgoblin, but when word of the Kingpin’s death comes down, Richard refuses to make his move. This pisses the Hobgoblin off because he was really looking forward to using this as an excuse to commit some crimes. This is how the Hobgoblin mourns a fallen friend.
Back in Crazytown, Matt’s on the run from an army of demons working for the Kingpin who apparently want to ass-fork him to death. The fact that these guys are actually NYPD officers doesn’t help very much. Matt escapes into an alley only to run into his newest number one fan, the Punisher. Punisher’s just about to start on his third round of “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” when he realizes that something isn’t quite right about Matt. Possibly the fact that he’s begging the Punisher to kill him. Punisher refuses to do that but he tells Matt that he can get Matt some psychiatric help. Since this is the Punisher, this is an obvious lie. Frank Castle would not know good mental help if it chopped him up with claws and then brought him back to life as a Frankenstein monster.
At this point, Spider-Man shows up and there’s the mandatory fight scene as Frank and Peter try to stop Matt. Unfortunately for them, it’s Matt’s story this month so he escapes but not before hallucinating that Peter is a giant Spider-Monster trying to help him.
Back at the Rose’s apartment, Richard Fisk has learned that his mother Vanessa, who has been living in Europe while she works on her own craziness, has been murdered. Blaming Matt, Richard’s about to head out to find the guy when Matt arrives to meet him. Matt comes clean about everything. The enhanced senses, the feud with Kingpin, the destruction of his life, the mountain of dead girlfriends. At the end of the story, he tells Richard that Richard can kill him or forgive him. Whichever it is, Matt will abide by. Unfortunately, this is exactly when the Hobgoblin bursts in to ruin everything because the Hobgoblin is just a bad person.
Another fight ensues, wherein we learn at a fine oak coffee table can withstand at least eight shots fired from a laser glove. Hobgoblin tosses one of his pumpkin bombs (trademark Norman Osborn) but Matt returns it, attaching it to Hobby’s glider. Then he holds the Goblin onto the glider until the bomb goes off, killing them both and sacrificing himself to save the life of a mob boss.
A few weeks later, Daredevil’s back on the street beating the hell out of criminals in Hell’s Kitchen. But it’s not some horribly reanimated Matt Murdock corpse! That’s an entirely different What If! It’s Richard Fisk, armed with a helmet to replicate Matt’s senses and wearing Daredevil’s old costume so that the hero’s name lives on. I give him three days before Bullseye murders him with some thumb tacks.