Not surprisingly, my first character review will be about my favorite comic character, Matt Murdock. Or Daredevil, the Man without Fear, if you want to call him that way. So here you’ll find out which are the best Daredevil comics, one of most enjoyable characters from Marvel.
I have two reasons to start with Daredevil: first one, I already told you about, its my favorite character. The second is also quite personal. Around twenty years ago, I tried to make an experiment building a web page about comics in my home country, Argentina. I made quite an ugly page and I showed to Alfonso, who was my friend and shared my passion about comics. He took the ugly thing I showed him, and together with his girlfriend made it into a nice looking page. That page was called “Parque Gotico”.
Parque Gotico was online for many years, and had some success at local level. We even had our highest moment when we had the privillege of having Neil Gaiman (@Neilhimself on instagram) with us, chatting live with our small base of subscribers. Old internet times!
And it all started with a review about Daredevil…
So here we go, starting with Daredevil for this second round! Makes some sense, the fighter rises and fights the good fight again!
Why I love Daredevil?
My first contact with Daredevil was through a brazilean reprint of Marvel Team Up 25, featuring Spiderman and this character I never heard about: Daredevil. The story was quite simple, with Spidey and Daredevil fighting against the unholy trio, a group of animal like villains. It was drawn by Gil Kane, which was a plus.
I was completely hooked with Daredevil: A blind man who could “see” through a radar sense, and was completely fearless as to perform the most daring acrobatics? A hero that looked like the devil? The attraction was sudden: I wanted to read more about him.
And then, also by chance, I got two pivotal issues of “The Elektra Saga” by Frank Miller. Completely different to anything I read up to the moment. At the end of one of the issues Elektra caught Daredevil with some kind of bear trap, and pushed a wall on him. Believe me, if you haven’t read this, the visuals are impacting.
I then I was hooked forever…
Matt Murdock’s story
I press the issue a lot on Matt Murdock, because, different from many characters, the best Daredevil comics moments usually happen when the superhero (Daredevil) is not around, leaving the headlights to the man, Matt Murdock. The drama then centers on him, and most of his internal conflicts.
Son of “Battlin'” Jack Murdock, a second rate boxer and unknown mother (for a lot of time, later was revealed his mother turned into a nun), Matt is pressed by his father to dedicate his life to his studies. Matt’s father wanted his son to have a better life than his own. However, Matt usually trains without his father knowing about it and has a notable build.
However, his life would suddenly change when Matt jumps in front of a truck to save an old man that was about to be hit. The truck rolls over, and some chemicals from the truck’s load get spilled, blinding young Matt Murdock. Game over? Far from it!
Matt gets blinded in the accident, but his other senses are amplified many times the senses of a common man. These amplified senses allow him to read a newspaper with the just the touch of his fingers by feeling the ink on the pages, track a person by his or her smell from many blocks away, and recognize if someone is lying by the subtle changes on the heartbeats of the liar. Moreover, he gets a radar sense that allows him to “see” and to know exactly where every object is placed in any room.
While still convalescent from his accident and unable to cope with his heightened senses, a mysterious character named Stick trains him in martial arts, with the expectation that he will help him fight an obscure ninja sect called “The Hand”.
Matt continued his studies, went to college and turned into a lawyer. While at law school, he met Foggy Nelson, his best friend who will also be his law firm partner, and Elektra Natchios, daughter of a Greek diplomat, who will be his first love and a key character in one of the all-times most memorable sagas of comics.
But tragedy is a usual visitor to Matt’s life, and his father gets murdered after refusing to go down in a fixed boxing match. Finding out his dead father, Matt decides to take justice into his own hands and takes the identity of Daredevil to put down his father’s killers. Daredevil’s costume (created by Bill Everet) was originally yellow, but luckily later was given his more devilish look and red costume.
Which are the hooks to the best Daredevil comics’ stories?
Daredevil has historically had many hooks that allowed him to sustain great quality material and keep readers hungry for more:
it’s interesting to see how Matt uses his other senses to overcome his sight handicap, how sometimes makes us forget he can’t see, but also how many times makes us remind that, even with his heightened senses, he’s still blind.
DD offers many dualities through his stories. For one, he’s one of the most decent men you could read about, a real hero, but he dresses as the devil. On the other hand, he’s a lawyer who sincerely believes in the legal system, but he usually has to go outside of the law parameters and act as Daredevil. When handed by capable authors, that a killer mix.
Matt has had many memorable romances through his history, many of them quite dangerous, and some of them with tragical endings. Elektra, Natasha Romanova (A.K.A the Black Widow), Typhoid Mary, Karen Page, Heather Glenn, Milla Donovan…
Kingpin’s permanent shadow:
although originally created as a Spiderman villain, the Kingpin’s presence in Daredevil’s books brought many of the most glorious moments in comics, and you could easily say that Matt is Kingpin’s major nemesis.
Batman has the Joker, Spiderman the Green Goblin, and Daredevil has Bullseye. A formidable foe, whenever he appears you know a strong story is on the way…
If you want to start reading Daredevil, start here: 10 Best Daredevil comics Sagas
Daredevil has had many great writers along his history, which produced many of the best material in comics. I will be ordering them chronologically, so it would be probably better if you start from the first one and keep reading in that order. There will be some material missing, but if you don’t read them, you probably won’t be missing anything that important. One important comment: as an Amazon affiliate, I will be getting a small comission if you purchase any of the books by following my links. That generates no extra cost to you, and if you like our reviews, it will also help us finance this page. So let’s start with the reviews!
The Elektra Saga
or should I say the Frank Miller’s 1st run?: one of Marvel`s greatest bullseyes (yes, I used the word on purpose…) was when they put Frank Miller on Daredevil. Starting with issue 158, Miller started first with the drawings, and later he took complete control of the title. By issue 168, he introduced Elektra, Matt’s old flame from his college days that had been turned into an extremely dangerous assassin by the Hand, a ninja occult sect. Miller’s dark and gritty stories continue growing as Elektra is hired by the Kingpin as his personal assassin, and the story builds into one of the best stories not only in Daredevil comics, but in comic’s history.
I don’t want to spoil much of what happens, I will just be saying that much of the story you saw in the TV series was inspired here, but here is better. Miller’s run continues until issue 191, and you can find it all compiled in these three books (or just one big Omnibus hardcover that the fanboy in me would LOVE to have) :
with Daredevil fighting Bullseye, Kingping and even Hulk. Daredevil’s origin is retold here, and also features the introduction of Elektra, Stick and the Hand, all of which will become pivotal parts in the Daredevil mythology. This book serves as an introduction to the main dish, that comes in…
Here’s where the main story develops, the Elektra story everybody talks about is contained here. Elektra, Bullseye, Ben Urich & Kingpin play key roles in this story, with some minor appearances by Iron Fist & Luke Cage. If you have to buy just one, buy this one. It also includes the “Child’s Play” story, featuring The Punisher. Great, great material…
the end of Frank Miller’s run with a masterpiece as 191 (really… you never read something like this anywhere else…), plus issue 219 , What If #28 (What if Daredevil became agent of Shield?), and even “Daredevil: Love & War”, a beautiful graphic novel by Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz.
Frank Miller does it again, and his return to Daredevil brings us another of the best stories of comics. What happens when the worst enemy of your favorite hero finds out his real identity? That’s what Matt Murdock will find out here, the hard way.
This trade collects issues 226 to 233, and if you haven’t read it, it’s a gread story and a real cheap edition (even if you’re like me, a hardcover fan). Pencils by David Mazzucchelli, who you might also remember by Batman: Year One. Greeeeeat material…
This saga, written by Ann Nocenti and penciled by John Romita Jr., starts with issue 253, and to be honest… doesn’t have a proper closure until issue 300. The best part of it it’s in the beginning, where Matt faces Typhoid Mary, a multiple personalities assassin that the Kingpin hires to break him again. The Epic Collection gathers issues 253 to 270, and there’s
a second part, Heart’s of Darkness, that collects issues 271 to 282. The story doesn’t finish here, it really starts closing after 284 and the final conflict is between issues 296 to 300, in the Last Rites storyline. That story hasn’t been collected yet, but will probably be in the future. If you want to start with the “A Touch of Typhoid” epic volume, you’ll get pretty exciting material, including a hero’s beating like you probably haven’t seen in many places.
Again, Frank Miller gives us one of the best Daredevil comics. This time he brings us something he did really well with Batman, by telling us a kind of “Daredevil: Year One” story. Very nice story, both for Daredevil’s lovers and newcomers to the character. Also, very nice art by John Romita Jr. There’s a scene with Matt Murdock facing a bullet with just his billy club that it’s worth the whole volume.
Please dont’t mistake this “Man without Fear: the Death of Daredevil”, a recent miniseries that to me is a way for Marvel to steal our money…
This saga starts in issue 1 of the second Daredevil run (usually known as “Daredevil (1998)” and runs to issue 8. Of course, it’s also collected in one beautiful volume. The story, written by Kevin Smith and spectacularly drawn by Joe Quesada, plants the seeds of much of the material that you saw in season 3 of the Daredevil’s Netflix series. But watch out! There are real important differences in this book, which I won’t spoil here but make it worth every dollar spent on it. Appereances from Black Widow, Bullseye, Doctor Strange, and a certain villain that is not usual in Daredevil’s villain gallery. Remember, if this book doesn’t make you cry, nothing ever will. And also, if you want to know why I believe this is one of the best Daredevil comics moments, read the last issue from this saga. You’ll also notice why I think the best moments happen when Matt Murdock takes the centerstage.
- Daredevil: Parts of a Hole : from issues 9 to 15 of the second run. Following the events of Guardian Devil, the story centers in a new character, Echo, who believes Daredevil is her father’s killer and seeks revenge on him. Also, this story chronicles Wilson Fisk’s origins. Written by David Mack and with extraordinary art by Mack, Quesada & Palmiotti, it’s another can’t miss story.
It also has a second part in issues 51 to 55 by David Mack, which is collected in Daredevil Vol 8: Echo – Vision Quest. Again, real nice art and appereances by Wolverine.
The Brian Bendis Saga:
Starting with issue 26 and as far as issue 81, the team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev take the wheel on the story. And what stories they give us!. As usual with Bendis, great storytelling, and great dialogues. This run is collected in three Daredevil by Bendis and Maleev Ultimate Collection books, volume 1 includes issues 16 to 19 (a previous Bendis & Mack story) and 26 to 40. This volume features the Kingpin’s drop from the top, Vanessa (Kingpin’s former wife) taking over his criminal empire, and the outing of Daredevil’s real identity to the public.
It features the first appearance of Milla Donovan, a blind woman that will turn into Daredevil’s new love interest. Also the return of Typhoid Mary and Bullseye, and the Kingpin’s fight to get his position back… that ends with a surprising character running the city crime by the middle of the story. Plus, a nice Black Widow story which depicts her as the strong character she is, that doesn’t need to be saved all the time.
Also includes the stories from What if Karen Page had lived?, and Ultimate Marvel Team Up 6 to 8. Story here goes back in time to tell us tales from the early days of Daredevil’s and Murdock’s careers and the antecessor to Wilson Fisk as New York’s Kingpin of crime. At the end of this book, Matt’s left in a position we never believed he could be.
Ed Brubaker’s Saga:
Ed Brubaker made the impossible in his Daredevil’s run: keep up the level of Bendis’ run. From issues 82 to 120 (due to Marvel’s magic numbering that issue is actually #500) Brubaker gives us an even darker saga than Bendis’ one, starting with Matt’s life in complete ruins. It’s difficult to talk much about it without giving out spoilers, so I won’t extend much here. Read it! There are many different collections. Maybe the most convenient one is the Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection. There are three books: Volume 1 goes from issue 82 to 93,
Volume 2 from 94 to 105, and
Volume 3 goes from 106 to 119 and 500 (stupid renumbering!). This last volume is available in paperback in Amazon at a crazy high price, but you can go for smaller trades that ARE available: Daredevil: Cruel and Unusual, Daredevil: Lady Bullseye, and Daredevil: Return of the King. If you like this format, you can also go for this one to replace the previous two Ultimate volumes I mentioned above: Daredevil : The Devil Inside and Out, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and Daredevil: Hell to Pay Vol. 1 & Vol. 2,
There are also a couple of Omnibus books, Volume 1 that collects issues 82 to 105 and the second one that goes from 106 to 119 and 500. There’s a misinformation in Amazon about this Omnibus, the right issues it contains are the ones I mention above, and not 82 to 105 as Amazon indicates.
Mark Waid’s run:
the third renumbering of Daredevil came with a change of writer. Mark Waid started his run on daredevil with a much fresher look at the character, more interactions with the Marvel mainstream universe, and a much cleaner art by Paolo Rivera & Marcos Martin. Waid’s run continues during the 36 issues of Daredevil’s third collection (also called 2011-2014)
and then 18 additional numbers of the fourth collection (2014-2015), now with Chris Samnee. Did I mention that I hate this kind of renumberings? Just confusing for the real comics lover and collector. During the first run we find out Foggy has cancer, around the half of the run, which to me is the best part. You can find the full run in two Omnibus hardcovers, or split in many smaller books.
fifth renumbering of Daredevil (2015-2018) find’s Charles Soule writing the book. First issues are nothing special, but from issue 10 starts “Dark Art”, introducing Muse, a ruthless assassin that makes art out of his victims. That’s goooood material. And from issue 29 (renumbered again to 595…AAAAAAAARGHHHH) starts “Major Fisk” which up to issue 605 makes one of the best runs in the last years.
UPDATE JANUARY 2020: if you want to check our opinion on the latest run by Chip Zdarsky, go to our fast review on the first two arcs… a hint? We might be liking it!!
Did I just review 40 years of history of the best Daredevil comics in this post?? Oh my, I feel old! So if you want to start reading Daredevil, you have 40 years of good stories. Take your time, start slowly. My recommendation would be to start with any of these sagas, and concentrate in them. You enjoy them better as you read them continuously, as you would binge watch a tv series season.
Start with whichever you want (hint: Miller’s run!) and enjoy Daredevil, the character who gave many of the most memorable stories in comic history.