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Daredevil: Born Again was Frank Miller's Feb. 1986 story arc on Daredevil. In it, Kingpin discovers Daredevil's real identity of Matt Murdock (This is, of course, thanks to Murdock's druggie ex girlfriend, Karen Page). Now that his identity is known by the Kingpin, he gets tormented.

Murdock loses his house, job, friends, and even sanity. But as Kingpin motions to kill Daredevil, he notices something. He won't quit. Kingpin finally has found the man he cannot break.

The story is considered one of the best of the era and one of the three eminent superhero deconstructions, right up there with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, though it is not as famous as either. Which is somewhat ironic in itself, given that of the three Born Again probably remains closest to the traditional superhero story, without going into Sociopathic Hero territory. More than the other two, Murdock is portrayed as a fundamentally decent guy with genuine heroic impulses, while still very much a human being, and the central story is an old fashioned battle between the hero and the villain. Notable for featuring perhaps the first time a superhero comic issue in which the hero is not once in his costume.

The story contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Ax Crazy: see Psycho for Hire below.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Lois.
  • Berserk Button: For a crime lord, Kingpin's actually a pretty reasonable guy. He listens to his subordinates and considers their advice. But don't mention his wife.
  • BFG: Nuke's gun "Betsy".
  • Big Bad: Wilson Fisk, as ever.
  • Captain Patriotic: A dark version in Nuke, but Captain America plays it (mostly) straight in his guest appearence.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Deconstructed. Fisk is trying to expand into legitimate businesses and be a Villain with Good Publicity, but his vendetta against Daredevil is costing him money and putting that ambition in jeopardy. The first crony to try and point that out to him is "bought out" and later has both his legs broken off-panel; the second is murdered by Fisk then and there. Fisk is trying to turn his criminal genius to more acceptable enterprises, but his obsession with Daredevil and his violent instincts keep overriding his sense.
  • Costume Copycat
  • Despair Event Horizon: Ben Urich crosses this thanks to Lois.
  • Determinator: Murdock.
  • Deus Ex Machina: The sudden appearance of the Avengers (or at least, Cap, Thor and Iron Man) in the final issue may seem like this. Or it's merely more evidence of the tightly-bound and frankly overlapping nature of the Marvel Universe's superhero community.
  • Dirty Cop: Subverted and played straight. NYPD Lieutenant Nick Manolis, who framed Murdock initially, needed money to pay for an operation to save his son. He tries to set it right, but that didn't turn out well for him. Other dirty cops are willing to kill for the Kingpin.
  • Do Not Go Gentle/Rousing Speech: Played with by Miller. After Ben Urich is intimidated into silence by the Kingpin's goons, J. Jonah Jameson (Yes, of Spider-Man fame) gives an incredible speech explaining how important it is that the Bugle expose the Kingpin for what he is despite the potential consequences. Urich is unmoved at first. He later decides to pursue the story, but the speech isn't portrayed as an important factor in his decision.
  • Evil Is Petty: Very, very, very petty.
  • Frame-Up: The gist of the Kingpin's plan.
  • Fridge Logic: The Kingpin decides to kill Matt Murdock by making it look like the blind Murdock got drunk, beat a cabbie to death, stole the cab, and crashed in the East River
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Literally.
  • Good Shepherd: A female version in the nun (who may or may not be, to this day, Matt's real mother) who takes care of Murdock after he's injured.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Fisk destroys Murdock's entire life in the first issue of the story. Then he strolls into Fisk's office, gets his crap handed to him, and Fisk tries to kill him in the East River. When they don't find a body, Fisk realises Murdock's alive, With nothing to lose, and coming for him. After all, a man without hope is a man without fear.
  • He's Back: When Nuke attacks on Kingpin's orders, Matt Murdock, having regained his spiritual center, finally redons his Daredevil costume after so long to confront the lunatic.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Guess who? Most blatant example is his manipulation of Nuke, pretending to be a loyal patriot struggling against a traitor named Daredevil.
  • Neck Snap: The Kingpin does the one handed version on a complaining associate.
  • Never Found the Body: As soon as Fisk hears this about Murdock, he realizes Murdock's not dead.
    • "There is no corpse. There is no corpse."
  • Older Than They Think: You might think that Captain America's much-repeated, much-vaunted line "I'm loyal to nothing, General, except The Dream" is from the Englehart days, maybe Gruenwald, maybe the Brubaker stuff, maybe even a classic Avengers story. Nope. It's from this.
  • Oh Crap: Kingpin's reaction to the above. He realizes that destroying Matt's life but not ensuring his death has given him a foe with nothing to lose.

 "And I--I have shown him that a man without hope is a man without fear."

  • Orgy of Evidence: Matt is deeply troubled by the way his life is unraveling around him and doesn't know if its paranoid to think that maybe someone is out to get him. Then someone blows up his home.

  Matt Murdock: It was a beautiful piece of work, Kingpin. You shouldn't have signed it.

  • Psycho for Hire: Nuke and the Costume Copycat of Daredevil.
  • Psycho Serum: "GIVE ME A RED!"
  • Revenge Before Reason: Kingpin gets called out on it, that his vendetta against Matt is a drain on resources and jeapordising his plans to expand into more legitimate enterprises. This was not the time to point this out to him.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Nuke
  • Super Soldier: Nuke
    • Also Captain America. Nearly every character - even the crazed Nuke - practically salutes in his presence.
      • Except Murdock, who's more annoyed that Cap is interfering in his private war against the Kingpin.
  • The Vietnam War: Nuke is a Vietnam vet and still thinks he's fighting it.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Daredevill normally adheres to the "no killing" code of most superheroes. In this story, when Nuke's pilot is shooting up New York in a military helicopter, Daredevil picks up a rocket launcher, mutters, "Forgive me," and blows him up.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Turk.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kingpin undergoes a subtle one over the course of the story after he learns that Murdock is still alive. It's very clear that he's becoming quite unhinged, culminating in Fisk sending the psychotic Nuke to Hell's Kitchen and making him shoot up the place to draw Matt out.
  • World War II: Captain America thinks back to his experiences during the Second World War, answering the more cynical and psychotic experiences of his counterpart Nuke.
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