Tuesday’s Tragic moment is the life and death of Karen Page.
With the popularity and justifiably so, of Netflix’s Daredevil series, the character of Karen Page is getting thrust back into the conversation of comic book mainstream. Granted, Matt Murdock aka Daredevil aka blind man-whore, has had many love interests during his time, from Black Widow to Elektra; it is Karen Page that is so often considered the most tragic of all of these.
However, it would be important to note that beyond just killing Karen Page, Marvel did far more to this female character.
Karen Page came into being in Daredevil #1 in 1964 as the legal secretary for the law firm, Nelson and Murdock. Though she was often pined after by Foggy Nelson, it was Matt Murdock she fell in love with. In fact she spent quite a bit of time searching for a cure for his blindness. In the early years she was often kidnapped during the Daredevil comics by the likes of the Owlman and the Purple Man of Jessica Jones fame. Her own father turned out to be a super villain known as Death’s Head. But through it all she stayed on as Nelson and Murdock’s girl Friday and crusader. Eventually Matt decided he had to come clean with Karen and shared his secret identity that he was in fact the Daredevil.
Unable to cope with being a superhero’s girlfriend, Karen left New York and went to California to pursue a career in acting and here is where her complicated life to a very tragic turn. While trying to establish contacts to further her career, Karen becomes involved with some very nefarious characters. It was during this time that Karen witnesses the Kingpin dealing with a betrayal by one of his men. She and other witnesses are then tortured and drugged, hooking her on heroin, to make forget what they saw. In this state Karen turns to pornography to support herself and her drug habit. Eventually, Karen sells out Matt Murdock’s secret identity as the Daredevil to the Kingpin to get drugs. Karen, now fearing for her life, buys her way back to New York by exchanging “favors’ sexual or otherwise, to get back to Matt hoping that he will protect her from the Kingpin. Matt takes her back and tries to help Karen get clean.
Karen gets clean and opens a free drug and legal clinic with Matt’s help, but unfortunately this doesn’t last for long. She soon finds out that Matt was having an affair with Typhoid Mary her clinic is destroyed in a demonic invasion of Manhattan. Karen tries to go on and even becomes a radio personality and makes herself an activist against child pornography. Realizing she is too dependent on Matt, she goes back to California to take a new job and takes a routine drug test. The super villain Mysterio, in another attempt to destroy Daredevil, disguises himself as a doctor and tells Karen that she is HIV positive. Karen believes this to be the result of her days as an actress making pornography.
Distraught, Karen returns to New York to tell Matt what has happened. She gets caught up in a battle between Bullseye and Daredevil and throws herself in the way of a billy-club aimed at Daredevil’s head. The billy-club impales her and she dies in Matt’s arms.
So to recap, Karen falls in love with Matt, and then when she cannot become part of the Superhero community, Marvel does the following.
Exiles her to California to pursue a failed acting career.
Has her witness a mob hit and then gets her tortured and hooked on heroin.
Has her become an actress in pornographic films and a prostitute to support her drug habit.
Has her betray the man she loves.
When she becomes clean and even opens a clinic to help others, finds out the man she loves and is finally happy with has been screwing a crazy diseased super villain known as Typhoid Mary. Then to add on a little more, destroy her clinic in a demonic invasion.
She leaves it all behind to go back to California to pursue a career and is made to believe she has an incurable disease due to her immoral actions while on the drugs that she was addicted to against her will. Not just any disease either, but at the time, the one with the worst stigma attached, AIDS.
She returns to the man she loves and in a final act of love, takes a billy-club through the chest.
Hopefully Netflix will be better to Karen than Marvel ever really was.