KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM (12)
November 4, 2022
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of favorite killed-off TV characters. Series edited by Heather Quinlan.
BEN URICH | DAREDEVIL
“My name is BEN URICH. I’m a REPORTER.”
This refrain appears in every issue of Daredevil‘s legendary Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli story arc “Born Again”. After New York’s Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk, has meticulously disassembled every part of the titular blind vigilante’s being (aka lawyer Matt Murdock), only Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich has the persistence to uncover his friend’s frame-up and expose Fisk for the mobster he is. Despite being threatened, attacked, and almost murdered, Urich gets the story out and is every bit the hero as Daredevil, though with fewer accolades.
As I binged the first season in April 2015, his death in episode twelve by the very man he helped bring to justice in the comics – Wilson Fisk – came as a shock. I’d spent years with the comic book Ben Urich, but I hadn’t spent as much time as I would have liked with Vondie Curtis-Hall’s interpretation (here he writes for the New York Bulletin because at the time Sony Pictures owned rights to all things Spider-Man, including the Daily Bugle). I don’t mean just in terms of screen time either – I mean in real time. For most deaths in this column, I imagine much of their impact comes from having watched and fallen in love with these characters over the course of years, dipping into their lives weekly across multiple seasons. The downside of bingeing is that you lose that. Characters’ fates are predetermined in the writers room before a frame of a single episode is even shot. They cannot develop organically as the character is found by the actors, writers, directors, producers and audience week in, week out. How can a character death affect you if there’s no familiarity?
Ben Urich is different. There is a familiarity and history with him, albeit established in decades of other media. I thought he’d be a staple of the show, as he had been (and still is) in the comics: a conscience, an audience surrogate, a man looking for the truth and able to bury it if it’s for the greater good (in the comics, he deduces Daredevil’s secret identity but kills the piece he wrote about it, thinking the Man Without Fear’s protection of Hell’s Kitchen is worth more than a Pulitzer).
Urich is a product of the 1970s, when journalists were real-life superheroes: Katharine Graham used The Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers, Woodward & Bernstein showed that reporters could bring to justice real-life supervillains, and Jimmy Breslin had a controversial public correspondence with David Berkowitz, aka “Son of Sam,” one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history. By the mid-’80s though, when “Born Again” was first published, Urich already seemed a man out of time, the rear guard of a medium already in denial about its one foot in the grave. By his 2015 television debut, the other foot was on a banana peel. Watching it post-2016 it’s almost too on the nose that Urich, the bastion of truth, takes his last breath at the hands of a narcissistic sociopath, laundering his image as a respectable NYC real-estate tycoon.
Disney+ has recently promised the return of Daredevil in an 18-part series, the conditions for which are now perfect: Disney and Sony have partnered so The Daily Bugle can be used in the MCU, Marvel’s streaming paradigm has swung away from single-day binges to weekly airings, and the new season is even titled “Born Again”.
If only Ben Urich were still around to keep everyone honest.
KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Max Alvarez on LANE PRYCE | Lynn Peril on PETE DUEL | Miranda Mellis on LISA KIMMEL FISHER | Trav SD on COL. HENRY BLAKE | Russ Hodge on DET. BOBBY SIMONE | Kathy Biehl on PHIL HARTMAN| Jack Silbert on MARTY FUNKHOUSER | Catherine Christman on MRS. LANDINGHAM | Kevin J. Walsh on YEOMAN JANICE RAND | Heather Quinlan on DERMOT MORGAN | Adam McGovern on LT. TASHA YAR | Nick Rumaczyk on BEN URICH | Josh Glenn on CHUCKLES THE CLOWN | Bart Beaty on COACH | Krista Margies Kunkle on JOYCE SUMMERS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on DENNY DUQUETTE | Marc Weidenbaum on SGT. PHIL ESTERHAUS | Michael Campochiaro on GORDON CLARK | Fran Pado on EDITH BUNKER | Mark Kingwell on OMAR LITTLE | Bridget Bartolini on ALEX KAMAL | David Smay on VANESSA IVES | Tom Nealon on JOSS CARTER | Michele Carlo on FREDDIE PRINZE | Crockett Doob on AUNT LOUISE.
TEEN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2023): ANDY GIBB | KIM WYLDE | KIRK CAMERON | MACCA | SHAUN CASSIDY & 20 other heartthrobs. DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2023): WE FOUND IT | TOGETHER AGAIN | SUNDAY MORNIN’ COMIN’ DOWN | BAD CASE OF THE BLUES | FANCY | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) Country songs. KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2022): LT. TASHA YAR | JOYCE SUMMERS | COL. HENRY BLAKE | MRS. LANDINGHAM | ALEX KAMAL | & 20 other TV deaths. BLURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2022): LEFT-CORNER BRICK | JOY IS RESISTANCE | THE FUTURE IS PASSÉ | EVERY MINUTE AN OCEAN | SHUT UP, HE EXPLAINED | & 20 other apothegms to live by. KOJAK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2022): ARK II | WKRP IN CINCINNATI | BUCK ROGERS | THE WHITE SHADOW | POLICE WOMAN | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) TV shows. KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2022): KUILL | CATO | COSMO | TRIXIE | VOLSTAGG | & 20 other sidekicks. NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2021): TIME | THE POST OFFICE | ARDUIN | DOUBT | SUMMATIONS | & 20 other nerdy passions. SWERVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2021): WARHOL’S WALT WHITMAN | 70, GIRLS, 70 | TYRAEL’S MIGHT | SHIRATO SANPEI | THE LEON SUITES | & 20 other never-realized cultural productions. FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2021): DARK SHADOWS | MANNIX | GET SMART | THE ADDAMS FAMILY | I DREAM OF JEANNIE | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) TV shows. FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2021): STEVEN UNIVERSE | TOP CAT | REN & STIMPY | SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER | DRAGON BALL Z | & 20 other animated series. CARBONA YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2020): “Sex Bomb” | “Going Underground” | “Soft South Africans” | “Typical Girls” | “Human Fly” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) punk singles. KLAATU YOU (2020 weekly): ZARDOZ | METROPOLIS | DARK STAR | SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | SOLARIS | & dozens of other pre-STAR WARS sci-fi movies. CONVOY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2019): THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE | ROLLERBALL | BLACK SUNDAY | SORCERER | STRAIGHT TIME | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) action movies. SERIOCOMIC (2019 weekly): LITTLE LULU | VIZ | MARSUPILAMI | ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | HELLBOY | & dozens of other comics. TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2018): LOONEY TUNES | THREE STOOGES | THE AVENGERS | ROCKY & BULLWINKLE | THE TWILIGHT ZONE | & 20 other Fifties (1954–1963) TV shows. WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads. GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) new wave singles. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other Thirties (1934–1943) fantasy novels. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.