So my plan for a weekly/bi-weekly feature is to take suggestions from the readers for a top 5 or top 10 or top whatever really and pick one that’s applicable to me and then post it on the site. I will explain my reasons for the choices and I’ll give you thanks for the suggestion. I’m hoping this will get a lot of discussion on our social media accounts of which I will obviously contribute if you fancy debating or chatting with me about my choices. As this hasn’t begun yet I have turned to my fiancé to give me a starter and she suggested top 10 Daredevil stories which is fitting as the Netflix series is just around the corner. It shouldn’t need to be said but SPOILER WARNING !!! So with that said I give you the first in the series of Kinker Korner, by @swing_kinker.
30.The Murdock Papers-2006
This arc brought an end to the era defining, spectacular run of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. You’ll be seeing a lot of this run on here and with good reason. Here, The Kingpin is trying to make a deal with the FBI where he would receive immunity for his crimes in return for irrefutable proof that Matt Murdock is in fact Daredevil. Matt and two of his former flames race to find the papers before they make their way to the authorities.
29. Charming Devils-1996
Karl Kesel took Daredevil from the grim and gritty to the light and fun tales reminiscent of the 60s and 70s. Light-hearted banter and constant narration evoke that nostalgic feeling of the Gene Colan and Stan Lee era.It’s always fun to see The Man Without Fear team up with Spidey and their dynamic is usually a good one. Here they take on z-list villain the shooter and have a lot of fun doing it. It’s nice to change things up sometimes as one tone can become a little stale and it’s nice to see Matt actually enjoying himself.
28. Partners In Time-2013
This issue is in my “Most Emotional Moments” list and I debated putting the entire arc on here but it’s such a powerful issue it should stand on it’s on. This is the now famous Mark Waid written issue where we find out that beloved character Foggy Nelson has been diagnosed with cancer. The build up in which Foggy is waiting for the results is just horrendous and nearly everyone knows someone or is related to someone who has suffered so the whole thing is just a hard hitting slice of life. Waid’s run is known for bringing a light hearted vibe back to the series but as usual he wasn’t afraid to bring the horrors of reality when it’s needed.
Poor Andy Diggle. The former 2000AD editor must have been delighted when he got the opportunity to take over from Ed Brubaker on Daredevil. For years it had been the best mainstream comic on the shelves so a talented writer like Diggle should be able to keep the trend going right?. Problem was he came in to write an editorially mandated story called Shadowland, where Daredevil is possessed by a demon and becomes Hell’s Kitchen’s new crime boss. The fans were not happy, it just went on for too long and made less and less sense but when Diggle got to spread his wings and write Matt’s redemption story it turned out well. I prefer to remember his time on Daredevil through Reborn, it’s a great miniseries that deals with the fallout of Shadowland.
26.The Fall Of The Kingpin-1991-1992
Something of a reverse Born Again with Kingpin’s world falling apart around him. Daredevil has the opportunity to pile on the pain for him but does he have the same ruthless heart that his nemesis has?. D.G Chichester took over as regular writer from Ann Nocenti with Lee Weeks doing a stellar job on the art front. Any long time fan of Daredevil will get more than a little joy from watching Kingpin’s life crumble.
25.The King Of Hell’s Kitchen-2004
A very interesting arc in which Daredevil is forced into dealing with the fact he’s struggling with the death of Karen Page. Friends like Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Spider-Man help him come to these realisations and deal with them. His new found clarity leads to him dealing with the mistakes he has made since he became the Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen following his brutal beating of Wilson Fisk. Seeing Alex Maleev take on Marvel stalwarts like Spidey was also incredibly exciting for me.
24. Daredevil Faces Off With 5 Crime Organizations At Once-2011
Mark Waid may be one of the best comic book writers of all time when it comes to positive storytelling. In an era where everything has to be dark and gritty, Waid still manages to find the bright and positive examples of humanity and spirit in his stories and it’s so refreshing. In this Christmas tale Matt has volunteered to escort a school for blind children on a trip and when the bus crashes and the driver dies Matt is the only adult left and his radar senses can’t function in the blizzard. It’s up to him and the kids to get out of there alive and it’s a wonderful examination of the power and fearlessness of children.
23.The Origin Of Daredevil-1964
One of the best classic origin stories out there for superheroes. It has plenty of things that keep me happy such as boxing, grimy locales, mob violence and of course the hero being forged from tragedy. We’re introduced to Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Battlin’ Jack Murdock and others that would become such a massive part of the continuity. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles origin was originally a parody/homage of this origin and I’m a massive Turtles fan so it has a special place in my heart for several reason.
22. Wake Up-2003
An emotional tale of a young boy in an almost catatonic state who can’t communicate with anyone trying to help him. It turns out he is the son of the villain Leap frog and has witnessed something terrible during a fight between his dad and Daredevil. The story slowly builds up to the reveal as Ben Urich and Matt Murdock desperately try to figure out what is bothering the kid. David Mack’s abstract paint work compliments the story well.
21.Brother, Take My Hand-1968
Behind the annoying omnipresence and arrogance of Stan Lee there is a kind, left wing soul who has always been socially aware. Most famously and obviously is the correlation between the X-Men and the civil rights movement. This issue could have been heavy handed in the wrong hands but with Lee and the woefully under appreciated Gene Colan it came off as genuine. It centres around a USO show in Vietnam where a soldier (Willie) has been blinded but is desperate to experience the Daredevil performance. Matt goes to visit him and express how impressed he is with Willie.Later, back in America we see Willie has been framed by the mob after his refusal to take a bribe. With nobody to turn to, Matt takes the case for his new buddy. Often these pro troops issues don’t sit well with me as my political leaning make it rather uncomfortable to me but when it’s done as tastefully as this it’s perfect.
Part of the greatest superhero comic book run of all time (in my humble bumble of course and I include Brubaker’s part). Lowlife is Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev in full flow with the trademark gritty visuals and dialogue heavy characterisation that defined the run. This is where we meet Milla Donovan, a blind woman who Daredevil saves from being hit by a car. The two later fall in love and she becomes an integral part of the character’s history. Matt has been outed to the press and he’s desperately trying to keep his identity as Daredevil hidden but denying things is becoming harder and harder. We also have The Owl trying to take control of Hell’s Kitchen through drugs seeing as how The Kingpin is out of commission. A lot packed into this five part classic.
19. A Touch Of Typhoid-1988-1989
Ann Nocenti’s entire run on Daredevil is criminally underrated and her creation (along with artist John Romita jr) Typhoid Mary is one of the all time underused villains. A woman with split personality disorder, one of which is Bloody Mary, a psychopathic killer intent on destroying Daredevil.The second is Typhoid, a playful and sex driven vixen. The other is Mary, who doesn’t know of Typhoid or Bloody Mary’s existence and falls in love with Matt. It’s very bizarre but my word what and incredible story.
Bullseye has developed a brain tumour that has him seeing everyone as Daredevil and we know what Bullseye does when he sees Daredevil…..nasty, violent things. Bullseye hadn’t been seen in a while and it’s fitting that this is only Frank Miller’s second issue as writer (he drew it too) as Bullseye became synonymous with his run. He really made the character a serious enemy to Daredevil.
17. Love’s Labours lost-1985
Often lost in the shuffle, these issues penned by Denny O’ Neil came just after Frank Miller’s first run and finishes just before his second. Understandably drowned between those two all time great runs but sleeping on this is a bad idea as it’s a very Interesting group of issues that can sometimes seem a little disjointed as they are not all chronologically together. It includes the suicide of Heather Glenn which is often an overlooked tragic moment in Daredevil’s history. Another highlight is the David Mazzucchelli art which is always on point.
My boys Luke Cage and Iron Fist feature in this one shot as Foggy feels Matt needs bodyguards. Instead we get to see said Heroes For Hire guard someone who witnessed a crime after Kingpin sends his men to kill him. It’s always nice to see Luke and Danny, especially in a series as good as Daredevil.
The beginning of the close relationship between Matt Murdoch and journalist Ben Urich who has deduced that Matt is in fact Daredevil. Matt is in a hospital bed after a nasty fight with The Hulk in the previous issue (which counts as this story so places here too) and confesses all to Urich. Ben is a fantastic character that not only helps writers work around tricky plot points but also because of his heart and companionship with Daredevil. This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. A young Frank Miller is on art duties here, patiently waiting for his turn to write.
14. Daredevil Noir – year 2009
The Marvel Noir series ran from 2009-2010 and varied in quality, quite drastically at times, with stories ranging from the great (Luke Cage) to the poor (Iron Man). So the good stuff stands out a little more because of the short amount of entries in the Noir series. Daredevil, as you can tell with it being on this list, is an example of when they got it right. The “they” in question are writer Alexander Irvine and penciller Tomm Coker who deliver an intricate and interesting TRUE noir tale. The worst entries in the series and in noir fiction in general seem to think that making things dark and broody and adding a load of internal monologue makes the perfect noir story. It certainly is a talent to manage to get noir right, melding excitement with slow moving and introspective plots but that’s what we get here. Noir is my favourite style of writing, particularly in movies such as 1955’s “Kiss Me Deadly” and that’s the feel we get in this Daredevil tale set during prohibition era Hell’s Kitchen. It’s fun to see these extra grizzled versions of Matt, Foggy, Kingpin and Bullseye. Irvine tends to write fantasy novels and his comic book work is very limited which is a shame because I think his style suits the form and he is definitely aptly helped by Coker’s dark and perfectly atmospheric art. Short and sweet.
When Bendis became the regular writer on the series he shook things up in a way that would change Daredevil’s story forever. Matt’s identity was outed to the press and he spent the next ten years defending against those claims. The initial outing is where I started reading comics again and it took me on an incredible ride through an amazing run. His personal life ends up in tatters and everyone who knows him is affected by the situation as he desperately tries to grasp onto any semblance of sanity and normality he can. It’s an amazing arc that changed things forever.
An incredible piece of writing from Frank Miller in his pomp in which a paralyzed Bullseye lies in a hospital bed. Daredevil pays him a visit and proceeds to play Russian roulette with him whilst contemplating his his value as a hero. Miller also did the art and his usual rough style is complimented by excellent panel layout and use of space. An incredibly powerful issue.
11- Love and War-year: 1986
There were two original graphic novels by the team of Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz based on Daredevil characters. One is “Elektra: Assassins” and the other is “Love and War” which is more of a Daredevil story which is why it makes it onto the list. Despite that, I still highly recommend picking up Assassins as it’s absolutely mental, it’s very much like an 80s action movie. Just seas of bodies flying around blowing up and bullets flying everywhere. It also contains an incredibly tight and ambitious narrative from Miller. Love and war is much the same only slightly more muted. First of all I have to address the painted art of Sienkiewicz…..it’s stunning. You rarely get pieces like this these days. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of beautiful canvas art fit for a gallery and crass, blood filled violence and I absolutely love it. Daredevil falls in love with a blind woman (becoming a habit) who has been kidnapped by Kingpin’s goons. The story itself reads as an ensemble piece, seen through the eyes of several characters which works well. Again though let’s be honest. The real draw here is the art, the good story is just a bonus.
10.The Elektra Saga-1981-1982
One of the most beloved Daredevil stories of all time. Frank Miller must have been building this story up in his mind during his time as an artist on the title as when he took over writing duties his first issue introduces Elektra, a Greek socialite that meets Matt at college. The two fall for each other but when her father is assassinated she returns hom only to appear in New York years later as a mysterious assassin herself. As always with Matt it’s a doomed romance and when Bullseye gets thrown into the fold there’s only one outcome…..and it’s not a pretty one.
9-Daredevil Yellow year 2001
Jeph Loeb doesn’t half get torn apart by readers who frequent comic forums eh? Whether the large amount of criticism he gets is fair is just a matter of opinion and I have not read enough of his more hated works to comment on that. What I will say is I have read all his work with occasional partner/artist Tim Sale and in my opinion they are a fantastic team. Their work on various heroes has always led to epics which are almost always used for reference when a newcomer asks “where should I start on this character?” Yellow is the first comic my fiancé loved, it’s a beautiful tale of loss and acts as an origin story for Daredevil. The narrative is largely composed of letters written from Matt to Karen Page after her untimely death and pays homage to early issues of the mid 60s with characters like The Owl and Purple Man who manages to be an effective villain here, drawn in a very sinister way by Sale’s sharp, angular style. It’s intended to read somewhat like a romantic drama movie and it captures that feel well.
8.End Of Days-2012
An absolute heavyweight of a Daredevil story. A wonderful celebration of The Man Without Fear with several writers and artists coming together to tell the final Daredevil story, obviously out of continuity and in the same sort of vein as The Dark Knight Returns where we see our beloved characters in the future and what becomes of them. Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Bill Sienkiewicz, David Mack and more contribute to this cracker. As celebrations go though……it’s grim.
7- The Deadliest Night Of My Life: year:1984
This two parter was written by Arthur Byron Cover with issue 208 being co-written by Harlan Ellison. This was the real draw for me as I am a huge fan of Ellison, particularly his short stories. Such an inventive, demented mind and judging by the first issue I am guessing he had a big part to play as it’s crazy and more ingenious than the second part of the arc. The art is provided by the always wonderful David Mazzucchelli, most famous for his work on the classic Batman Year One arc. Part 1 deals with Daredevil following a distressed little girl into an alley whereupon he is led into a series of deathtraps, beginning with the little girl who turns out to be a robotic bomb…..yup, Harlan Ellison is definitely involved. The whole issue is basically Daredevil running through a house of elaborate traps until he reaches a tape recording of his tormentor. The mother of a villain that had died at his hands has set this all up and wants revenge. Wouldn’t have been as much fun if she just shot him. Matt escapes the exploding house and passes out at Black Widow’ apartment. His torment isn’t over as in part 2 he has to deal with a whole army of little girl robot bombs! Lots of fun.
6- The Man Without Fear- year: 1993
Much like he did with Batman, Frank Miller created an updated origin story for a character that already had a rich history. Such was Miller’s power at the time he was given free rein to use characters from his celebrated run on the series to retell the story of how Matt Murdock went from nervous, blind child to Daredevil, the man without fear. Sewn into this origin are Matt’s College love story with Elektra, his training with the mystical stick and the addition of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin as an important character in the history of Daredevil. John Romita Jr is on artistic duty here and his work is just fantastic. It melds excellently with Miller’s frenetic style and he conveys action in such a smooth and glorious way. I have a thing about sequential art being more important than technically sound art and it’s excellent here. If any of your friends or indeed you need a place to start with the character then this is absolutely the one.
5.Return Of The King-2009
I remember when I saw the preview for this cover and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. As someone with a relatively extensive history with Daredevil, seeing him shake hands with Kingpin was unfathomable given their history. Ed Brubaker’s time on the series was full of amazing surprises like this though. This was the concussion of their run before the unfortunate Shadowland event kicked in. It’s essentially a culmination of the entirety of volume 2 which had Matt’s personal life fall apart in such a catastrophic way that even Frank Miller would struggle to think of how to make it worse for him. Kingpin has retired to a small town in Spain with a new family, Lady Bullseye and The Hand turn up and…..leave a mess, drawing Kingpin back to New York where he teams up with Matt to take them down. Michael Lark, David Aja and in the final issue, a host of artists provided the artwork and it’s a wonderful parting for Brubaker.
4- The Great Divide- year 2012
When it was announced that Daredevil was returning for volume 3 I was excited as he had lost his way in the Marvel universe. Then my excitement turned to slight apathy as I was sure that the same tone that left me depressed and exhausted for the last 15 years would return. Don’t get me wrong, the last 15 years of Daredevil has delivered some of the best work in comic history but to be honest I just didn’t want to see a character I love keep going through such a grim life. Imagine my surprise and glee then, when Mark Waid was named as the new writer. For those who don’t know Waid’s work, check it out as he is the best in the business when it comes to romantic, light hearted, touching stories that manage to convey sadness when required but delivered in a silver age-esque way. This issue shows a time where Foggy Nelson (who has never been written with such warmth) manages to organise for his best friend Matt to have experimental surgery that will allow him to see for 30 minutes. Matt then watches a video of his late father “Battlin” Jack Murdock in his title winning boxing match. This is the match that he was supposed to throw to net some gangsters a large amount of money. Jack had too much pride and while he won the title, he lost his life as said gangsters took him out. An incredibly touching and impeccably written issue.
3- Devil In Cell Block D: year 2006
Brian Michael Bendis should be in prison for the way he treated poor Matt Murdock, luckily he wasn’t imprisoned because his run with Alex Maleev, as expressed elsewhere on this list is one of the greatest of all time and we would have been denied the pleasure of reading it. All jesting aside, jeez…. poor Matt was left in a mess when Bendis left the series to basically write everything else Marvel pumped out in the mid -late 00s. So here comes the brilliant Ed Brubaker to take over writing duties and he’s brought the talented Michael Lark with him to draw the new adventures that Mr Murdock and friends are about to go on. So how does he start his first arc? He puts Matt in jail along with murderous villains who are baying for his blood, including Kingpin and Jigsaw……….. ah, thanks Ed. Despite keeping the theme of Matt’s downfall going this is one of the most exciting arcs of Daredevil ever. It’s just incredible, whether it’s the return of the Punisher who is more bad arse than ever, the murder of Foggy Nelson or the necessary team up of Kingpin and Daredevil this is a non stop thrill ride and an amazing way to start off a team run that continued to be brilliant but never topped this 6 issue beauty.
2- Born Again – 1986
Largely considered to be the greatest Daredevil story ever told and rightly so…..it’s utterly fantastic… BUT on my list it’s pipped at the post and that’s ok because remember ……opinions aye? When Bendis took Matt Murdock on a 5 year ride through hell, tearing his life apart after the revelation of his identity he was paying homage to Frank Miller’s seminal masterpiece Born Again. The story deals with the return of Matt’s former love interest Karen Page who has fallen on hard times…..and some. She’s now a heroin addict who has a history of prostituting herself. So desperate and painful is her addiction that she sells Daredevil’s identity for drugs, yup so long silver age. Kingpin obviously gains this information and proceeds to systematically tear Matt Murdock’s life apart bit by bit. It’s horrifying watching a likeable hero become reduced to a broken shell of a man who once seemed impenetrable. His emotional fight back from tragedy is one of those moments when you really get behind the protagonist and will him back to get the strength to rebuild and get revenge. All of this drama is in the very capable hands of artist David Mazzucchelli who does a great job painting a picture of a man whose life is crumbling around him. Pretty much essential reading, not only for Daredevil fans but just fans of drama in general. Wonderful.
1- Hardcore- year-2003
You expected a Miller story to be here didn’t you?…..DIDN’T YOU? Well, while pretty much every issue of Miller’s run is great, I was too young to be following it at the time so the impact of reveals and cliffhangers didn’t get the chance to resonate with me. The run of Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev on the other hand was a run I was following at the time. I’d go as far as to say it’s up there with my favourite runs of all time, we’ll leave that for another list. Matt Murdock has been outed as Daredevil while strenuously denying his double life. His new love Milla and his friends are in danger. Bendis systematically broke Daredevil mentally and physically during his run and in the first massive change in the run, he snaps….he completely loses it. If I said to you that at the end of this arc, Daredevil lays the mother of all smackdowns on the newly returned Kingpin by pummeling him into the ground, takes his mask off and claims himself to be the new Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen…..would you want to read it? Of course you would, so what I’m basically saying is this is the greatest Daredevil story of all time in my opinion. Oh and I almost forgot, the arc ends with a series of classic Daredevil artists contributing such as John Romita Sr. Just…….just wow
So that’s it for this week. Leave your comments on the site, on twitter and on facebook. Let me know what you’d like next. Be as obscure or as plain as you like. I’ll cover anything the site covers, so you can use tv, movies, comics, toys. You know the deal and you can catch me personally on @swing_kinker