Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Top 10 Tuesdays - 10 Favourite Daredevil Covers

Daredevil has had a lot of good writers over his nearly fifty year history, and this fact is always spotlighted as people say that each writer makes a personal run while on DD because that’s the platform that can incorporate it. Many forget to mention that he’s also had some absolutely phenomenal cover artists over time as well. To pick a top ten out of what would amount to nearly six hundred images wasn’t easy. But I did it.

Here are the ten DD images that have most grabbed me over my many hours spent reading the title.

Top 10 Tuesdays - 10 Favourite Daredevil Covers

10 – Daredevil #188 - ‘The Widow’s Bite'
Cover by Frank Miller

There’s something about this cover that simply sings out unlike any other. The colour scheme should be muted for all the black, but instead the intricate white lines of the web make me think of a broken windshield.

It is a bold statement, the defeated form of Daredevil slung into the middle is a different way to project our hero into the viewer’s eye, and the brutal hold in which the Black Widow has him is menacing, personal, slightly scary, and downright effective. I’m not sure if she’s going to help him or eat him. And either way looks like it will make a cool story to me.

When scanning through the back catalogue this one always catches my eye and makes me stop. If only Natasha had better hair though, this cover would be up a few places if she had the long hair.

9 – Daredevil #323 - ‘Conflict’
Cover by Scott McDaniel

Long before New Avengers was teasing something that wasn’t actually going to happen, Daredevil gave us a symbiote clad Matt Murdock.

The story actually features a guest appearance by Eddie Brock with his living black suit. At no point does the suit jump ship from its host and attach to Matt Murdock, but it certainly would be interesting if it did. The radar sense plus a watered down Spider-Sense means no one would ever get Murdock on the first day of April ever again.

While from a lackluster run that has been forgotten, mostly, in the canon of Daredevil, you have to at least respect this cover, it's one opportunity where they gave it all they had. It's a good thing that they didn't showcase the DD suit he had at the time, it was neither yellow nor red, but I am sad that they didn't use the reveal which is at the end of the issue; bad ass rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. cyborg, John Garrett.

8 – Daredevil #169 - ‘Devils’
Cover by Frank Miller

Bullseye has always been a bit of a mad character and we can see this very early in his career. Here Bullseye is seeing everyone as his arch-nemesis, Daredevil, and if the cover implication is correct, he’s started killing them all.

I love that at first glance it just looks like he’s surrounded by defeated bodies but upon a closer look you see that each unsuspecting person has been placed into the DD red gear. It’s a scary thought that such a skillful villain could lose it and take out everyone around him.

The greatest element of the cover though is Bullseye himself, hogging the round spotlight. His face shows such maniacal glee that you know is going to snap very soon when he can’t kill the last DD as more keep coming. He looks happy, and the scary clown always does, but the sad emptiness behind it all is what really controls the vehicle into the crash.

7 – Daredevil Vol 2 #57 - ‘The King Of Hell’s Kitchen (Part 2)
Cover by Alex Maleev

It’s nice to see Matt Murdock get a cover as his red tights wearing alter-ego always seems to steal the lime light.

There’s a masterful composition about this cover that really draws my eye along the vertical and horizontal lines. The writing going up and down, the raised sword both parallel and adjacent to the letters being formed.

Excellent use of white space as a frame that finally draw my attention to Murdock’s face. He’s glancing on a downward angle, he’s waiting and about to mean some serious business. It's a showdown and we don't need to know whom it is against, we just need to know that Murdock is prepared for it.

The entire cover makes me think I’m seeing the calm, the very Zen centre, of what will be a ninja fuelled storm.

6 – Daredevil #175 - ‘Gauntlet’
Cover by Frank Miller

Daredevil and Elektra stand shoulder to shoulder against a shared foe. They are united and we should be happy but instead we get blood on the wall asking us if this could possibly be ‘The End?’

Knowing the way DD had been published up to this date, I would not have been surprised to find that DD ended with a bang, not a whimper. He’d get a soldier’s finale and have his ass kicking girl by his side as they were pushed up against the wall.

I also like the ninja swords forming half a frame and pointing all eyes to our eponymous hero and his ex/assassin/lover. This question raises so many questions, literally, and figuratively, and I’m drawn in instantly. It's one scene, again a calm within a fight, where breath is drawn and sides are taken and the fight is about to get real. It's the perfect snap shot moment.

5 – Daredevil Vol 2 #46 - ‘Hardcore Part 1’
Cover by Alex Maleev

This is a pin up, when you take it for what it is, but it doesn’t feel like a pin up. It feels like we’re seeing one frame of a scene through Murdock’s eyes. One of his many old flames (and haven't there been so many that could grace a cover), Typhoid Mary, is standing in front of him and she’s about to do something nasty.

How do I know this? Because she’s always about to do something nasty and she really only knows how to do nasty things, and that seems obvious by the trashy stance she rocks out.

I look at this cover and I put myself in Murdock’s shoes and I worry about what is to come. It is also interesting to note that Maleev originally had a slice of Mary’s nipple, with a ring, showing but had to take it out. A smart choice, and a great Easter egg, of sorts, but in the end just the way Maleev presents Mary is such a bold statement. It's one thing to have this character in JRJr's pencil but quite another to have her portrayed so realistically. Makes you wonder just how dirty Murdock really is when you know his history with her.

4 – Daredevil #121 - 'Foggy Nelson: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.'
Cover by Gil Kane

There’s enough text on this cover to fill an issue, and you get enough to chew on for a few minutes if you really take it in. I’m always a sucker for HYDRA so seeing their logo in the background is a pleasure, not to mention DD in some sort of Dreadnought fight club scenario.

Murdock feels like destroying something beautiful. The fact that the cover uses an asterix to explain what a Dreadnought is may just be pure and sublime genius.

Finally we get the tease that Foggy Nelson might just be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I really hope he’s not just pushing Nick Fury’s papers around like he does for Murdock. As far as old school DD covers go, this one takes the cake for me. And it's on fire, won't somebody please think of the fire safety concerns?

3 – Daredevil: Father #5 - ‘Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!’
Cover by Joe Quesada

This cover works because of its simplicity. It’s just a head shot, but there’s more and the little details make this so much more than just a mug shot.

Quesada’s use of black space on the character give a very foreboding sense of muscle and danger. Quesada’s Daredevil for Father was a brutal hulk. He was the son of a boxer and so had the build for it. It was an experimental style and one that I know I liked quite a bit.

The darkness of DD’s eyes here make me think that he’s switching off the human part of himself and is about to dish out a bit of the old ultra-violence, and if that smirk is any indication then he’s going to enjoy it while he can.

The final touch on the cover is the soupçon of blood coming out of the mask and down across his lips. Someone has had their turn and they haven’t done enough, now it’s Murdock’s chance for a reply.

2What If? #28 - ‘What if Daredevil Became An Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.’
Cover by Frank Miller

A What If? cover can get a jump on the rest because it can posit any situation it likes. In this instance it’s compiled all of my greatest hits of the Marvel U; Daredevil, S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. All they needed to throw in was Danny Rand as his sidekick and I’d officially be in story heaven.

Everyone likes to see those HYDRA goons get what they’ve got coming but no one ever expects those blows to come from Matt Murdock in one of those spiffy S.H.I.E.L.D. suits. The straps on the thighs, the under-the-shoulder harnesses, they’ve got it all. Then you get the red hair and the black band across the eyes and it’s all over. Check. Mate. HYDRA.

1 – Daredevil Vol 2 #105 - ‘Without Fear Part 6’
Cover by  Marko Djurdjević

This is hands down, flat out, my favourite comic cover of all time. I’m not saying it’s the perfect cover, but it surely has to be close.  

Djurdjević is a master of the painted cover that looks like it’s almost a sculpture. He gives a depth and smell that makes me think that Frank Frazetta had a steampunk baby 31 years ago.

Mr Fear finally looks fearful. He looks like he’s someone to be reckoned with and he’s gotten the right reaction from Daredevil. The hero is angry, he’s charging, and Mr Fear just stares him down. No fear in the mask, no hesitation at all in that steel visage in the slightest. All life is gone, there is only the hatred and the vengeance.

Brubaker’s Without Fear arc was my favourite of his run and this cover was the greatest way to end that story. Mr Fear giving the cold stare and knowing that he’s already won. And if you’re not sure of Djurdjević’s mastery of the artistic form, if the metal reflection didn’t sell you on it then you need look no further than the material that robes our villain. That’s detail, kids, that’s a care for the art. And it makes everyone else care too, it promotes investment.


Those are my ten Daredevil covers. Tough choices but ones I stand by. There were some extremely excellent covers that nearly made the list but these are the final entrants. These are the ones I’ll always remember.

What about you?  What are you favourite Daredevil covers?  What makes the cut for you?  What do you think are the best, and why?

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Radlum said...

Great list; I agree with most of the choices, however some of my own favorites weren't included such as the one of the final issue of Hardcore (DD sitting unmasked looking oddly relaxed), Daredevil Vol.2 100 (the one with many other street level heroes) and Daredevil Vol.1 187.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Radlum - I like that Hardcore cover with DD sitting in the throne, if I'm not mistaken, and the wraparound definitely made the short list. As did 187, I'd say there were about another 10 that easily could have subbed in...the choices you have to make, killing your little darlings. Glad you liked the list and agree with most of my choices, cheers.

Matt Ampersand said...

@Radlum: Christine is a big fan of that Hardcore cover you are talking about, you should ask her about it some time, haha.

(or alternatively listen to her guest appearance on the Monkey on my Back podcast http://dimitrimomb.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=573160 )

Anonymous said...

i fucking luuuuv Marko Djurdjević

Matt Ampersand said...

Also, that cover for #323 is really striking. I'm surprised I haven't seen it before.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Hey anonymous - I'm right there with you brother.

@Matt - that cover is insanely cool, the actual comic contained therein is most sadly not. That's why you haven't seen it, it's mid 90's dreck.

Aaron Kimel said...

Hey now! "Fall From Grace" was hardly lackluster and is certainly not forgotten! Oddly, I would've probably chosen three covers from that storyline over the one you chose: 319, 321, and 325. (Check out http://www.manwithoutfear.com/covergalleryI301-325.cgi )

I love how you think that yellow and purple S.H.I.E.L.D. suit is spiffy. Anyway, does anyone else see Kraken from Secret Warriors in that Quesada cover? :)

Jacob said...

Issue #189. It was my older brother's and it was one of the first DD covers I remember seeing as a child.

Henrik J said...

I never really liked Daredevil comics so it is not a series i ever paid much attention to, but the Decalogue series had some really nice covers : http://yfrog.com/16daredevil3108405j

Especially "I am your God" : http://yfrog.com/bg280513253606j

Dickey said...

I gotta give props the King of Hell's Kitchen cover. It has the same elements that made me love #505 last month. Anytime they call attention to the sheer amount of ninja contained within the book by using heavy Japanese iconography is a winner in my book.

mikesim said...

All the covers from 'Fall from Grace' DD #319-325 (and 'Tree of Knowledge' that followed) were great pieces of art.

McE said...

Great list.

I'd swap out #121 for #8, but then again I've always had a weak spot for Stilt Man.

Ramon Villalobos said...

Cool list. I'm surprised there are no David Mazzucchelli covers, he did have a pretty decent run. This one from Born Again is one of my all time favorite covers period. http://www.funnypaperz.com/daredevil-232.gif

Also, I've always liked this Jack Kirby one. http://www.comic-covers.com/Marvel/MarvelC-D/Daredevil/images/dd043.jpg because come on... it's Jack Kirby.

The Dangster said...

very happy scott mcdaniel is gettin some love. he really puts the effort in his covers.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I love the passion here, people, very cool.

@Aaron, I grant everyone their own right to like any DD storyline, the more love the better. And, I am glad that you in turn like me liking the S.H.I.E.L.D. suit, I can't explain it, but if I had one I'd strut round the house in it every weekend.

@Henrik - Yeah, I loved the Decalogue covers, but they just missed the cut.

@Ramon - Mazzuchelli also came close with one, but overall they're iconic because of the story but I don't 'love' those covers, but I understand this may just be me.

@Dangster, yeah poor McDaniel and Chichester will never be named among the DD elite...

Stagger Lee said...

My favourites are DD 184, 228 and the "Born again" trade cover (and your number 8 pick). I think you're selling Mazzucchelli's covers short, Ryan. IMHO his covers are iconic because they are not only exquisite but capture the essence of the Daredevil mythos – much like his Batman covers. The fact that these issues contain the single greatest Daredevil story ever told is another thing altogether.

Radlum said...

To be honest, as much as I love Born Again (and I certainly love it a lot), the covers didn't really impress me. Batman: Year One covers looked better to me (with the exception of DD 232)

Rol said...

I reckon my list would be mostly Miller covers. Much as I've enjoyed the book in recent years, Miller's sense of design leads to some unforgettable images that remain fresh in my mind 25 years later.

colsmi said...

It's always fascinating to look at someone else's choices, especially when our choices are so different. It makes me think twice about why I enjoy what I do. I'd certainly have gone for the Wally Wood cover to # 8, with the Stilt-Man, and especially the brilliant Mazzucchelli cover to Daredevil 230, with DD's shadow cast over a broken Ben Urich.

Anonymous said...

Some of my favorite DD covers are:

#7 with the Sub-Mariner
#48 with Stilt-Man
#66 with the Wooly Mammoth (don't ask me why)
#91 with Mr. Fear in San Francisco
#146 with Bullseye fighting on T.V.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, but I do not agree with the top ten list, as it is biased towards Daredevil books from Miller onwards. Some of the best Daredevil comics ever published eminate from issue #1 to #191. Comic book master Gene Colan is perhaps THE definitive Daredevil artist, and is almost always overlooked by today's readers! Gene pencilled too many great covers, and so did Gil Kane! And how can Jack Kirby's iconic cover from issue #1 not be in the top ten list????

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Anonymous21 - sorry you didn't like the list. I admit there were many great covers in the first 100 of DD but not many truly grabbed me. The first issue is iconic purely because it is the first, it doesn't actually appeal to me, not like, say, Amazing Fantasy #15 does. I also thought that first cover was done by Bill Everett, but I may be mistaken.

I did include one Gil Kane cover, but mostly they don't personally appeal to me, which is what this list is about. Not the best but my favourite.

I would also argue Colan now being THE definitive artist as Maleev and Lark have really staked their place in the DD history, not to mention Miller himself.

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