With no current plans to integrate Netflix Original Series Daredevil into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s still a good time to look back on the groundbreaking series and ponder why the comics have not adopted one of the show’s greatest strengths: Karen Page.
Page is an absolute force with a vibrant personality and feels absolutely essential to the foundation of the show. Even though she died in 1999’s Daredevil Vol. 2 #5, “Guardian Devil Part Five: Devil’s Despair,” written by Kevin Smith with pencils by Joe Quesada, ink by Jimmy Palmiotti and colors by Richard Isanove, the Netflix show has proven how vital she can be to The Man Without Fear. Furthermore, she has incredible potential as an ally character.
Unfortunately, her death was the result of an unfortunate trend in comic books: “Women In Refrigerators,” a term coined by writer Gail Simone to explain the disproportionate deaths of women in media to drive emotional character arcs for men. Karen died jumping in front of a knife thrown by Bullseye at Daredevil. The next few issues see Matt deal with the feelings of her loss. Her death is processed through Matt’s emotional reaction to it and his ultimate re-commitment to the life of a vigilante crime fighter by night, lawyer by day.
It is really unfortunate that Karen has been absent in the comics because of a fridging storyline. She is a hard worker who is very smart and committed to helping others. So many characters in comics return in some way or another; Karen seems like an obvious choice to bring back into the fold, especially given her popularity on the show.
In The Defenders Netflix TV connected universe, Karen becomes a true force in the search for truth and justice. After being framed for murder by Union Allied as part of a larger conspiracy, her case is picked up by Nelson & Murdock and she becomes the firm’s first client. Once they help acquit her, she joins the operation as the firm’s secretary. She doesn’t just make coffee and send faxes, though; she works diligently to expose the corruption and injustice of the whole Union Allied situation and beyond.
Actress Deborah Ann Woll said one of the most interesting things about the character she played was that Karen got into trouble not because she was just some silly woman who stumbled into a bad time, but because she actually searched for the danger and refused to allow fear to stop her from finding and exposing the truth. Karen Page was a normal person who chose to behave bravely and honorably when put to the test. She is exactly the kind of character who balances out superheroes and vigilantes in engaging ways.
It’s this aspect of the character that would make her such a beneficial re-addition to the Marvel Universe. Daredevil is also known as The Man Without Fear. Karen Page is essentially The Woman Unstopped By Fear. She really balances out and adds some fascinating dimension to Matt Murdock’s world. Ned Stark said the only time a man can be brave is when he is afraid and Karen really exemplifies that where Matt cannot — at least, not in the same fashion.
Karen was more than a love interest for Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson or Frank Castle. She worked with journalists Mitchell Ellison and Ben Urich to pursue truth and expose corruption and crime in New York. She was a complicated character with a lot of depth. She dealt with trauma from when she was framed, almost murdered and kidnapped by Wesley, whom she shot dead. She also brought some levity and joy to the Nelson and Murdock office. She cooks dinner and jokes around with the guys and overall just brings some joy to others.
Karen Page is a wonderful character and it is about time comics creators learn from the Daredevil Netflix series and bring her back in a key role. Leaving her dead after being fridged is not enough. She deserves a better story than that. Marvel should bring her back and see what else she can do.
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Karen Page was killed in a 1999 comic, but her role in the Daredevil Netflix series proves she should be brought back in the Marvel Universe.