Daredevil is about to become one of the largest properties in the Marvel universe with a 5 issue mini series stemming out of the main title and four tie-in mini series, 4 one shots, and a hell of a lot of teasers and promotion. There are about to be a lot of new eyes on Daredevil so for your enjoyment I’ve collected what I believe to be the top ten things you should search out if Shadowland interests you and you want to know more about Daredevil.
He’s only seven issues into his lead up to this series as well as The List one-shot, so if you can track down those issues you’ll be completely set. Well nearly completely set. You wouldn’t have all the fantastic lead up Ed Brubaker gave the storyline but to summarise it real quick for you, Daredevil takes over leadership of the Hand. Boom, you’re ready to get down with Diggle. He’s shown how DD runs his ninjas and then taken him to Japan to deal with some of the other faction leaders of the Hand. They’ve been two good arcs and Shadowland looks set to tie them all up and leave us with a new status quo, I would assume. It's not often that you can catch up with a major event like this in seven issues but I feel that you'd be fine in doing so. With a character of nearly 50 years there's always going to be some holes in the continuity that you don't know but overall Diggle's run should be enough set up for you to kick back, get the Shadowland mini and just enjoy the ride. Any further back you can read would simply be gravy.
2. Kuljit Mithra’s Website – The Man Without Fear
Anytime you need to know anything about Daredevil the most reliable place to go is usually Mithra’s website, The Man Without Fear. You can track down old covers, synopses, creator interviews, news, links, and message boards with other great hornhead fans. It’s your one-stop shop for everything Daredevil and if you need it you’ll either find it there or Mithra will point you in the right direction to find it. He’s been running the site for years now and so it has a dense history and back catalogue of information. He was even thanked in the credits of the daredevil movie. I guess we have him to thank for it then, too, haha.
There are also plenty of other great Daredevil sites to be found, our own Christine runs The Other Murdock Papers which delivers DD news in a blog style, and there’s The Matt Murdock Chronicles where Robert is reading each and every Daredevil issue and reviews them in detail.
3. The Daredevil 2-Disc DVD
Now you might have been told that Daredevil, the cinematic experience, was a real turkey. Right up there with other Affleck turkeys and one of the worst Marvel films to have ever been made. These aren’t my opinions, I’m just saying, you may have been told. I don’t mind the flick, it’s guiltily enjoyable but it’s no masterpiece. However, I’m telling you to pick it up to actually watch the film, oh no. I’d just get you to buy the one disc edition if that were the case. I’ve been very specific in recommending the 2-disc set because there’s an extra on the second disc which is a documentary called ‘The Men Without Fear’. On it DD creators of the past discuss the character in pretty specific detail. They talk about how they went about creating their work, why they did so, and to listen to the likes of Stan Lee, Gene Colan, John Romita, Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, David Mack and Brian Michael Bendis is absolutely captivating. Once you see how captivated they are by the character you’ll be simply swept away. I would name it one of my favourite documentaries of all time purely because the content is very specifically what I love and the creators really open up with their thoughts. A must see.
4. Any of Frank Miller’s Elektra Saga
This is where it all began with the ninjas and the water towers on the rooftops of New York. This is where a mythology was born. Daredevil had previously been the scarlet swashbuckler, a second rate Spidey, a guy who was only shipping bi-monthly. Then along came this young bloke who’d done a few sporadic issues around the Bullpen. He had a good pencil so they threw him on as artist to Daredevil. He managed to scrape Daredevil off the bottom of the charts and soon Miller was given his chance to write the title as well as draw. And boy did he use that opportunity. He created a dense history for Matt Murdock and made his supporting players really matter. Ben Urich took centre stage, Foggy got some gristle in his jaw, Elektra was introduced, and Bullseye really came into his own as an absolute psychotic killer, and one we still love today. Everything you need to know or love about DD is right there in Miller’s initial run. Get them in single issues or trades, however you can, just get the chance to read Daredevil when he first became the man who he is today.
5. Random DD art on the net
There are plenty of places to link to cool Daredevil art. Sooner or later everyone turns their hand at giving it a go, and if they haven’t then they should. Daredevil is a cool character to draw, he’s all red, he’s got the horns, he contorts through the air, and he’s completely awesome. Mitch Breitweiser has given an emotional Daredevil wallpaper a run over on his DeviantArt account. Ben Morse has used his DeviantArt to knock up some rough pages (1 and 2), and by rough I mean very well done. There's other good Daredevil stuff up on DeviantArt, you'll probably have to wade through a fair bit of muck to find the gems in the mud but when you see something like this it suddenly becomes all worth it. And on Eclectic Micks, Declan Shalvey put together the fantastic Daredevil that you see to the left. There are plenty other masterpieces only a Google search away. Why not go a-huntin’ now? And whenever you find something make sure to leave a nice comment behind so that people know their Murdock love is reciprocated somwhere else in the world.
6. Quesada’s Father
Most people seem to ignore this trade but I dug the absolute hell out of it. Joe Quesada writes and draws it, and it was delayed by a very long time. Eh, that’s what happens when the big boss tries to do too much at once. It may have been late but that didn’t stop it being pretty as anything you could want in Daredevil’s four colour world. The thing that interested me was Quesada said that Murdock was the son of a boxer and so wanted to give him the stature of someone with those genes and plenty of training. So we get a bit of a hulking Daredevil who really makes you fearful that he could do some damage. I like that approach and wish Stan Lee had led with it, quite honestly. Sure, it makes Murdock look pretty broad in the shoulders, but it puts him more on a scale with Batman, I feel, rather than Spider-Man. I like this and think more people should give it a go. Plus, it’s pretty stand alone so you can simply enjoy it and move on.
7. The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
If you haven’t seen this old flick from way back in the day then you don’t truly know how bad a cinematic Daredevil could be. Rex Smith plays the blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen and even dons the black tights (yeah, they ditched the red ones for some more ninja-esque garb) and holds his own with the Hulk on screen. It’s not hard when said Hulk rarely appears and it’s mostly just dream sequences anyway. The movie might be a little hard to track down but if you’re really interested in Daredevil then this is worth watching. Probably more a curiosity than a true lure for the nascent Daredevil fan, it’s still worth keeping in mind. Great for beer and pizza on a Friday night.
8. Battlin’ Jack Murdock
Like all great superheroes, Daredevil has some terrible father issues. A run down boxer from Hell’s Kitchen who raised young Matt Murdock on his own, he was more prone to hitting his son before thinking about what he really needed to do. He always saw the error of his ways and eventually he picked himself up of the bottom of the pugilistic heap and became an inspiration to his son. Unfortunately, his inability to throw a match cost him his life and propelled Murdock to avenge his honour as Daredevil. All this, and only shown in the first issue and then other flashbacks. Zeb Wells took this thin character and stretched him out very well with Carmine Di Giandomenico on art in the mini Battlin’ Jack Murdock. Here we get a real look into the mind and life of Jack Murdock and it’s a complete treat. To know who Daredevil is now you have to know where he came from, this mini will give you a perfect picture of the lineage that makes a protector of Hell’s Kitchen.
9. The Marvel Art of Marko Djurdjevic
During a good deal of Ed Brubaker’s run Marvel did a great thing by putting Marko Djurdjevic on covers. The man knows how to put together an iconic cover, he knows how to make his images look dynamic and fantastic, and he knows how to create both Daredevil and Matt Murdock out of thin air. The man was just another reason that Daredevil remained one of the best titles on the stands. There are so many absolutely stunning pieces of art but rather than select one I’d rather you went out and bought this book, The Marvel Art of Marko Djurdjevic. You’ll get to see Daredevil covers, and the processes that made them, as well as a glut of other very cool works of art that he’s created for Marvel comics.
10. Hardcore or Without Fear or …
I’m aware that I haven’t steered you towards too much actual storyline of Daredevil. Putting up Miller’s opening run is obvious, almost sickeningly so if it wasn’t so absolutely perfect for you to cut your teeth on. From there it seems to be an embarrassment of riches as far as what would be the best Daredevil storyline to pick up. It’s pretty hard to pick just one arc. I am quite partial to Bendis and Maleev’s Hardcore arc, collected in the seventh trade of their run together. It pits DD against Typhoid Mary and Bullseye and eventually against Kingpin. It’s pretty awesome and some of Bendis’ best work, and I thought nearly his entire DD run was great. But I also liked Brubaker’s Without Fear arc because it really used Mister Fear well and established him as a much creepier bad guy who is sure to come back eventually. The tone of that story always comes back to me, though Brubaker’s tale of DD behind bars was also quite effective. David Mack’s Parts of a Hole is a pretty well put together piece of work and it introduces Echo to the many merry Murdock women. Miller’s Born Again is usually raised at some point though I feel that would work better after knowing DD more not as an introduction, but I’m probably the only man on the internet with that view. Even the old Essentials full of Stan Lee’s verbose loquaciousness is pretty cool. I’d suggest just getting a trade, maybe even one of the ones I’ve mentioned above, and having a bit of fun.
Well, hopefully you’re still interested in Daredevil. You see Shadowland looming on the horizon and you feel you might want to buy in and see what all the fuss is about. I bet you’ll notice that most DD fans are hardcore DD fans, that’s because once you’re in, oh man, you’re in for life. He’s just that good. Have a think about the suggestions I’ve made above and give it a go, or if you think you know a better taste to hook someone new put it in the comments below.