Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix takes the very best stories of the comic books and turned them into television magic with its own unique twist. It wasn’t enough to adapt the tales, the creators have played with viewer expectations. While remaining true to comic history, they have also opted for the unexpected. The death of Ben Urich in the first season was one of those instances. A central supporting figure in Matt’s comic book life, his life came to an abrupt end on television. But to know more about the life of Daredevil on the small screen, there are five stories from the comics that are must-reads, not only because they will give you insight into the character, but because they are five of the best stories out there.
Frank Miller’s Elektra – Daredevil #168-190 – While Daredevil’s origins and history are well known, the character came alive during Frank Miller’s initial run on the book. Miller moved Daredevil from a second-tier superhero into a first rate one. But Miller also is responsible for some of the most important character developments in Daredevil history – and the creation of Elektra may be his most important. In Miller’s first book as both writer and artist (#168), he introduced her and her background to readers everywhere and she soon became a fan favorite. Miller ended his run by restoring Elektra from her troubled past, but leaving Matt battle weary and psychologically pushed to the brink. A brilliant take on a character which defined both Miller and Daredevil.
Frank Miller’s Born Again – Daredevil #227-233 (also in a collected edition) – As much as Miller is known for his work on the Dark Knight, it’s Daredevil that made him famous in the comic book world. Miller returned to the world of Daredevil once more for a story called “Born Again.” This incredibly well-written tale takes DD to his most broken self and builds him up again. In it we come across Karen Page whose life has become a train wreck. She sells Matt’s name for a dose of heroin and Kingpin uses it to nearly destroy him. Miller builds up the Kingpin not only as a worthy adversary for Daredevil, but also an extremely ruthless one. An intriguing plot well worth reading.
Kevin Smith’s Guardian Devil – Daredevil vol 2 #1-8 (also in a collected edition) – Although Kevin Smith might be best well-known for his films, he is also an avid comic book fan. He partnered with newly appointed editor Joe Quesada for a run on Daredevil which would serve as the flagship book of the new Marvel Knights line of books Quesada was tapped to supervise. This well-written book brought back DD’s prominence once again after the Miller run back in 1986. In the story, Matt is left with a baby to look after, a new life that unfolds before him, and the death of one of his closest friends.
Brian Michael Bendis’ The Murdock Papers – Daredevil vol 2 #76-81 – Not since Frank Miller’s initial run has there been anyone who has captured the soul of the book like Brian Michael Bendis. Together with Alex Maleev who was the perfect partner for the type of story being told, these two crafted a series of tales that actually shaped and formed Daredevil into the character we see today. It’s hard to pick just one story that these two created because they did some amazing work – revealing Daredevil’s identity to the press, having Daredevil replace Wilson Fisk as the new Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen, but this series features Wilson Fisk’s return and Matt Murdock being placed in jail – together.
The End of Days – Brian Michael Bendis returns for one more Daredevil story. Perhaps this is the Daredevil story he was always meant to write. It chronicles the final day of Matt Murdock’s life, but unlike other “The End” books that have been published, this one starts with Matt’s death by Bullseye, his long-time nemesis. The story instead focuses on what happened to Matt after The Murdock Papers. In a way, it’s like a “What If?” story but is a nice homage to Bendis’ time on the book. Matt whispers one word at his death and Ben Urich chases down the answer to the riddle – who or what is Mapone?
There are other stories that could easily have made the list, but these five really give you deep insight into the lives of Matt Murdock, Elektra, Foggy, Karen, Kingpin, and the rest of DD’s assorted cast. What are your favorite Daredevil stories?
Cover images courtesy of Marvel’s online comics app
- For more about the Netflix series Daredevil season 1, read our post online
- For more about Season 2 of Daredevil on Netflix, read about it on the blog