This week sees the release of Netflix’s first foray into the world of superheroes with the release of Marvel’s Daredevil. This means the internet will be awash with lists of the top Daredevil comics you should read and crash courses on what you need to know about about the Man Without Fear before you see the show, and while those are both interesting paths to take I thought I would do a something a little different. You see, Daredevil holds a special place in my heart (not number one, that of course will always be Spider-Man) as one of my favorite Marvel characters and even one of my favorite characters in all of comics, but this was not always the case.
Fast forward to the late 90’s and the release of the Marvel Knights imprint. Daredevil relaunches with rising talent Joe Quesada penciling and Kevin Smith writing and even the most jaded of comic fans sat up and took notice of this event. Say what you will today about Smith, Quesada, and perhaps even the Guardian Devil arc itself, but it will always think fondly of it as it was what got me reading Daredevil and expanded my palate as a reader.
Talents such as David Mack, Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and currently Mark Waid (I wisely checked out during the whole Shadowland thing) have made sure that I’ve been picking up the further adventures of Matt Murdock over the years. I also went back and read the Miller stuff and found it as exciting and fresh as it must have been when it was first written.
Through all the great writers and artists I’ve come to realize Matt Murdock’s story is about perseverance over loss. From his sight, his father, his secret identity, and even occasionally his sanity, Daredevil is the story of a man who always gets back up, even when he has no good reason to. Fight isn’t in Matt Murdock, fight is Matt Murdock. Daredevil is also a book about duality. Matt is a gifted lawyer and were he to focus totally on that he could (and does) help so many people, but the same gifted mind and warrior spirit drive him to hit the streets as a vigilante. He is a man trying to do the work of angels with the tools of the devil.
While many other superheroes walk about moralizing and handing out speeches about the virtue and doing the right thing as if it were easy, Matt Murdock struggles to do the right thing and often is not rewarded for it. He is about the most flawed and human mainstream superhero there is, but these flaws are what make him so relatable. That a guy who has lost so much and struggles so hard to keep doing the right thing continues to do so gives us hope that maybe we can too.
That’s why I read Daredevil, and why he means something to me.
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