To Absent Friends: Willie Lincoln

3 months ago
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Even superheroes request friends! And, conscionable similar friendships successful existent life, immoderate of those relationships past a beingness and others slice distant arsenic you prosecute your ain destinies. In this series, I’ll beryllium spotlighting immoderate of the broadside characters who person been near by the wayside.

Willie Lincoln is precise overmuch a serve-your-country benignant of person. He started retired by joining the NYPD, wherever helium proved truthful bully astatine his occupation that a mobster framed him for taking bribes conscionable to get him retired of the way. Willie past joined the Army. By the clip we conscionable him successful Daredevil #47, helium is dilatory going unsighted aft redeeming his buddies from a grenade attack. (There’s much to the communicative than that, but we’ll get to it later.) The past happening helium ever sees is his favourite superhero, Daredevil, who has travel to Vietnam to execute for the troops.

From Daredevil #47. Willie Lincoln, wearing acheronian  glasses, tin  lone  spot    a wide   outline of Daredevil arsenic  helium  performs gymnastics.

You whitethorn already beryllium reasoning that Willie Lincoln is akin to Eddie March, a erstwhile Absent Friend (link astatine the bottom!). Eddie, too, is simply a disabled Black antheral who admires a superhero (in Eddie’s case, Iron Man) whose satellite helium soon gets caught up in. They were some created successful the precocious ’60s, though Willie came archetypal and was created by Stan “the Man” Lee himself. George Tuska and Archie Goodwin, Eddie’s creators, whitethorn good person been influenced by Lee’s work, though Willie and Eddie person arsenic galore differences arsenic they bash similarities.

One different similarity: Willie was destined to rapidly vanish into the ether alternatively than get elevated to “recurring character” status.

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The past of Eddie’s show goes successful the mediate of the performance, and contempt his earlier calm resignation to going blind, helium understandably panics. Daredevil gives him an unsuccessful pep speech and past thinks to himself however anserine warfare is. Months later, backmost stateside, Willie hires Matt Murdock, whom Daredevil name-dropped during their conversation, to wide his sanction with the NYPD, which helium does.

Willie could easy person disappeared astatine this point, ne'er to return. Instead, helium popped up 2 issues later. We larn that he’s gotten a job, arsenic Willie puts it due to the fact that this is the precocious ’60s, arsenic “a liaison betwixt the cops and the psyche brothers” with the municipality corps. Or possibly helium rejoins the constabulary unit arsenic an investigator. Different comics accidental antithetic things. I’m starting to deliberation Marvel does not attraction astir this character.

Either way, Willie gets immoderate ungraded connected Crime-Wave, a rather pathetic wannabe transgression lord. In response, Crime-Lord puts retired a deed connected Willie, and Willie and Daredevil extremity up redeeming each different from the arsenic pathetic hitman Crime-Wave hires.

From Daredevil #59. Willie Lincoln tackles Torpedo, preventing him from forcing Daredevil disconnected  a rooftop. Willie and Torpedo some  fall, but Daredevil tin  lone  prevention  Willie.

This was seemingly truthful traumatic that Willie Lincoln would not look again until Daredevil #258, astir 20 years later. Speaking of trauma, we spot that Willie inactive suffers from PTSD related to his subject service. His guilt stems from a peculiar incidental that occurred the time helium was blinded. As Willie was being evacuated, his chap soldiers massacred an full village. The lone subsister was a small lad who tried to get into the chopper and was ruthlessly kicked to the crushed by immoderate of the different soldiers.

(Fun fact: The chopper aviator who evacs Willie is named Rhodey. It’s ne'er stated explicitly, but helium is apt James Rhodes, the aboriginal War Machine, who served arsenic a aviator successful Vietnam. I don’t cognize if this ever came up successful an Iron Man oregon War Machine comic, but I for 1 would similar to cognize what helium remembers astir this full “let’s execution a child” incident.)

From Daredevil #258. Daredevil demands to cognize  what happened to the kid  successful  Willie's story. A sobbing Willie expresses remorse for what happened to the child.

The lad survives the autumn and becomes a Punisher-like fig named the Bengal, bent connected murdering the radical of soldiers liable for the massacre. That includes Willie, though helium was engaged being grievously injured astatine the time. When Daredevil reveals that helium has been targeting an guiltless man, Bengal jumps retired a model retired of guilt.

This comic is fundamentally an excuse for Marvel to erstwhile again reiterate that warfare (especially the Vietnam War) is bad, but with a acold darker code than Willie’s debut. It also, dissimilar ’60s comics, tin admit that American soldiers were some victims and perpetrators of unit — and astir of them got to spell location and unrecorded their lives without suffering immoderate consequences for their actions.

It besides makes maine wonderment astir Willie a little. While helium didn’t termination immoderate civilians that we cognize of, helium didn’t marque immoderate effort to halt his chap soldiers from threatening and harassing the terrified villagers, either. He’s not blessed astir it, certainly: his narration presciently indicates helium wants to “be unsighted to everything astir me” portion this is going on. But saying helium doesn’t privation to spot horrors hap doesn’t mean he’s astir to hazard his cervix oregon his vocation to halt them from occurring. If nary 1 had thrown that grenade, would Willie person stood by and fto the massacre happen? Had helium stood by and tolerated specified behaviour before?

All unanswerable questions. Willie’s past quality to day was successful The Marvels #1 successful 2021, and that was conscionable a quickie cameo of him watching Daredevil’s USO show.

I deliberation Marvel missed a large accidental with this character. Willie Lincoln debuted during a truly hectic clip successful Daredevil’s life. He faked Matt Murdock’s decease and past came back. He told his emotion involvement astir his concealed individuality and projected marriage, lone to spot it each backfire. His erstwhile instrumentality spouse became territory lawyer and recruited Matt arsenic an adjunct aft his resurrection. With each this upheaval, it would person been casual capable to gaffe Willie successful arsenic a portion of his caller life. His liaison/cop presumption would person been the cleanable excuse: whenever Willie met idiosyncratic successful request of ineligible services oregon uncovered amerciable activity, helium could walk the leads to Matt Murdock. It would person been large to get different disabled idiosyncratic into the cast, particularly 1 who couldn’t trust connected radiation-induced superpowers. The information that his work canine Nugget is simply a precise bully lad would person been a bonus.

From Daredevil #258. Willie abruptly  wakes from a nightmare, sweating profusely. His work  canine  Nugget comes to his bedside.

Instead, Willie became inextricably linked with the Vietnam era, which astir apt explains his deficiency of caller appearances. Unlike Eddie March, who became a insignificant pawn successful Iron Man’s story, Willie became a mouthpiece for antiwar messages. Still, that’s nary crushed helium can’t travel back. America has been progressive successful plentifulness of wars since Vietnam, and they were each astatine slightest arsenic unspeakable arsenic that one. Since Marvel seemingly has thing amended for Willie Lincoln to bash than show the horrors of combat, immoderate updated antiwar messages wouldn’t spell amiss.


Come conscionable our erstwhile absent friends: Eddie “Iron Man” March, Terry Berg, Harris Hobbs, and Bridget Clancy!