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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?