In the opening of issue #2 of the Daredevil re-launch, you’ll find the Man Without Fear perched beneath the iron undercarriage of a fully realized replication of the High Line Park, complete with “10th Avenue Square” viewing platform, antiquated iron filigree, and passing traffic below. Resting on a authentically rendered steel column, our hero listens in on a conversation between two men above. The following image exchanges viewpoints, establishing a wide shot with the park’s infamous benches, concrete planks, and “wild” flora on full display. The interlocutors now appear at eye level; beneath them, Daredevil calmly (read: creepily) waits in anticipation. The scene is set.
To younger audiences not native to New York City, the images may appear as a fanciful construct, an amalgam of familiar park elements, bridge-like infrastructure, and urban scenarios, held together by considerable amounts of imagination. This is an introduction to architecture, not only to its more palpable aspects of scale and material, but, more importantly, to its narrative and theatrical capacities. These scenes unfold on the psychological terrain of collective urban experience, manifested by dark, empty public squares, brooding towers, schizophrenic glass office blocks, and derelict religious structures. In the case of Daredevil, and all others, the superhero maintains an asymmetric relationship with the built environment, on which his existence rests. Simply put, the city doesn’t need its superheroes as much as they need it.