Daredevil – The Man Without Fear

Thanks to Marvel Unlimited I’ve read about 11 years worth of Daredevil comics over the past few months.

I had started reading Daredevil monthly in 2009 or so, but shortly after Daredevil premiered on Netflix, one of my friends suggested that I go back and read everything starting from Volume 2 (from 1998) which was about 133 issues. I’m glad I did. I don’t know if I have ever read, or will ever again, read a series so consistently well written and illustrated.

Volume 2 starts out with an eight issue series written by Kevin Smith called Guardian Devil, but the series picks up majorly when David Mack, and later, Brian Michael Bendis come on board (who wrote 60 some odd issues). Ed Brubaker came on after Bendis and continued the epic run.

The whole series pretty much deals with the mob and gangs in Hells Kitchen. No crazy alien invasions or world threatening events. Just a blind lawyer with enhanced senses who is a skilled fighter/ninja. He has a few superpowered friends who show up from time to time including Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Spider-Man. Also, later there are ninjas. Of course.

Throughout everything that happens to Matt Murdock and Daredevil (and quite a bit happens) his secret identity is published in the press and Matt fights nonstop to prove he’s not who they say he is (but he totally is, guys).

I don’t want to go into much detail because I don’t want to spoil any of the story for people, but I urge you to read this series.

David Mack’s artwork early on is stunning, and how he uses it to tell a story is amazing. There is so much detail on every page. It really is beautiful.

Daredevil by David Mack

Beyond the prominent text there is so much more detail on each page that adds layers and layers to the story and characters. Mack’s origin story of Echo (Daredevil #51-55) was a great story enhanced by Mack’s art. Echo is deaf, and learns how to mimic behaviors and activities by watching someone doing them once and being able to replicate them expertly. Hence her name, Echo.

Then Alex Maleev takes over on art and his style is so perfectly suited for Daredevil. The darkness and grittiness of the artwork is intense. You can feel the emotion in every panel, on every page. More so than most artists I’ve ever seen.

Daredevil by Alex Maleev

While reading Daredevil I couldn’t help but think this is what Batman should be like.

Red BatmanOver the years Batman has been turned into Bat-god. The superhero who can do it all and take on any villain (or hero) and win handily. Batman’s just a guy. He has no powers. He’s an expert fighter in marital arts and a world class detective. But lately his comics have been getting further and further away from him being the world’s greatest detective. He’s taking on gods in Apokolips, and in the movie, taking on Superman (which come on, Superman would destroy Batman so fast).

I loathe Joker, and think he is so overrated as far as Batman’s rogues gallery goes. My favorite Batman stories are where he’s dealing with the mob in Gotham, where he is the detective and protector of Gotham. Stories like The Long Halloween for example. Even the first to Dark Knight movies, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (which has Joker in it, but still).

Bendis, Mack, and later in the run of volume two, Ed Brubaker write Daredevil perfectly. The conflicts between Daredevil and “The Kingpin” Wilson Fisk, Matt Murdock and the press and public hounding him about his secret identity, and the fallout of both arcs and everything in-between made for such compelling reading that I could barely pull myself away.

Reading through these back issues I came to the realization that Daredevil may have become my favorite Marvel character. He has such a great origin, and story. The best part about him is he patrols and protects Hell’s Kitchen, an area roughly one square mile in size. Not an entire city, region, or world. This keeps Daredevil grounded and realistic (as far as superpowered heroes go, that is). Sure he’s gotten involved in the big Marvel events, but he’s a street level hero, fighting to protect his neighborhood. His secret identity as a lawyer is also great because it can enhance his stories and give so many additional layers to those stories.

I’m glad Marvel made a serialized version of Daredevil on Netflix instead of making a movie series for him. Daredevil is a great character and I’m sure they’d make an incredible movie series around him, but they can do so much more with this character on the small screen. And they did. The first season of Daredevil was amazing. Probably one of my favorite things Marvel has done with their cinematic universe.

Daredevil, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist by David Mack

Daredevil is well worth the price of a Marvel Unlimited subscription ($9.99 a month) for this series and any other series you want to read. Though they do hold back new comics six months, so something published this week wouldn’t be available until February of next year. That’s bad if you want to catch up to read something current, but it’s better than buying trades which will cost a lot more and come out just as long.