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Top 50 Marvel Characters #3

Now Marvel’s turn…

3. Daredevil – 1006 points (22 first place votes)

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Created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett (with help from Jack Kirby), Daredevil made his debut in the pages of his own self-titled comic book in 1964. Matt Murdock was a successful attorney who was secretly the superhero Daredevil.

The catch?

Matt was blind.

When Matt was a kid, he saved an old man from being hit by a truck, but the truck was carrying radioactive materials that splashed on to Matt, blinding him for life. However, the materials also ended up giving Matt a kind of superpower – all his senses were heightened, to the point where he could read newspapers just by reading the ink on the page with his finger. In addition, he gained a sort of Radar sense, like a Bat, only not sound-based, Matt just basically had a supernatural sense of where people were around him. It was how he was able to operate as a superhero, and how no one was able to connect him with blind attorney, Matt Murdock, because how could a blind guy do this?

Matt was a basic superhero for many years, during which time he was notably involved with his secretary, Karen Page, and the superhero Black Widow (they even shared his comic for awhile, as Daredevil and Black Widow). Matt’s law partner, and best friend, was Foggy Nelson.

This all changed with the arrival of Frank Miller as the writer of the book.

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Miller introduced an old girlfriend of Matt’s called Elektra, who was a dangerous assassin. He also made Matt into a sort of a ninja, introducing a heretofore unknown sensei of Matt’s called Stick. Miller also made the Kingpin, a Spider-Man mob villain, into Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, while cementing the supervillain assassin, Bullseye, created a little while before Miller took over the book by Marv Wolfman, into a force to be reckoned with, even to the point of having Bullseye KILL Elektra.

Later on, Miller returned to the character, as Karen Page (who had left years ago to become an actress) was now a drug addict who sold Daredevil’s secret identity. It got to the Kingpin, who then proceeded to tear apart Matt’s life. In the end, though, Matt was too strong, and along with Karen, he began a new life.

Eventually, he even regained his law license.

Sadly, Bullseye struck again, this time killing KAREN, as well.

Reeling from her death, Matt was spiraling. He had his identity published in the papers and he even attempted to put HIMSELF in place as the new Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. During this perio,d he married Milla Donovan,, who is also blind. Matt was able to recover from this period, and even was able to refute the identity issue (although everyone pretty much thinks he is Daredevil now).

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He is now back to doing what he does best, practice law and patrol the streets as Daredevil!

Here is why Mik Throntveit picked Daredevil #1…

When I was a kid (being 25 now) I didn’t understand what the hell was so special about Daredevil. I thought he was just some dude without super powers who dove off of buildings. I didn’t even give the character time enough to learn he was fucking blind! So why do I love Daredevil now? He’s a blind tortured Catholic Lawyer who womanizes and protects his childhood neighborhood (that just happens to have the best name a neighborhood has ever been given). He is tortured psychologically and physically every day and night of his life because of his choice to gallivant about at night protecting Hell’s Kitchen. People know for a fact that he is Daredevil and he just sits back and denies it even when there are thousands of undeniable pieces of evidence. He can do this (simply put), because he’s a bad motherfucker. If any character in Comics were deserving enough to carry Jules’ wallet from ‘Pulp Fiction’ it would be Matt Murdock.

Most of all I respect Daredevil for much the same reason I think a lot of people love
Wolverine, because they both feel their pain, In the recent issue of Wolverine where they had a huge machine gun trained on him to suppress his healing powers, he felt every bullet and he grinned and bared it. Matt Murdock does the same after every night out fighting, only he heals just like every other human on this planet. Only Matt Murdock continues to go out and fight in the streets and the court room for what he feels is right. I particularly love the fact that he calls himself DareDevil, because Matt Murdock is a heavy handed Saint.

My favorite Daredevil stuff is of course Frank Miller’s legendary run, but the current run started off by Kevin Smith’s Guardian Devil through Bendis’ long run (the best arc I feel being ‘The Murdock Papers’) and now with Ed Brubaker’s new storylines has turned out to be one of the best 100 issue runs in recent memory. This run has rarely (if ever) disappointed.

And here is why Graham Vingoe picked him #1….

It’s hard to believe that up until the mid 1970′s, Daredevil was seen as a joke character a rip off of Spiderman. Anyone reading the first 100 or so issues would be hard pressed to ever have him as a favourite character- He was just another wisecracking superhero with a vaguely interesting rogue’s gallery. I read the title from the late Gerry Conway issues through to the Jim Shooter run and was enjoyed them but DD was nowhere near the top of my reading list. There was 1 issue of the series which completely changed my view of Daredevil. The issue in question is this.

Since issue 159 and through to date DD has been blessed with a number of creators who done their absolute peak work on the title- Miller, Bendis, Brubaker, Nocenti et all have all revitalized a character who was once Spidey mark 2. None of them wrote this issue.

Issue 163, written by Roger Mackenzie (whatever happened to him?) features Daredevil, a man with little more than normal human strength going up against the Hulk. He knows he has no chance of beating him but does everything he can to stop him. What happens? He succeeds, but is beaten to a pulp and hospitalised for his troubles. Frankly, Any man, with reasonably normal strength who is willing to attempt to stand up to the Hulk KNOWING that the Hulk could and will beat him to a pulp, is truly a man without fear. That issue is why I voted him number 1 on my list of favourite Marvel heroes.

Thanks, Mik and Graham!

Tomorrow is #2 and #1!!!!

37 Comments

I’m really surprised DD made #3.

Good for him, but I just wouldn’t call him Marvel’s #3 hero.

I always liked Daredevil’s moral complexity. Rather than just doing the right thing because ‘he’s the good guy’, he challenges himself constantly by asking if what he’s doing IS the right thing.
To me, that makes a character more of a ‘good guy’ than someone who blindly accepts that they are some kind of voice of objective ‘goodness’.
It’s one of the reasons it irks me that Ennis seems only to be able to write him as an ineffectual tool.

Yeah, I have nothing against DD, but out of a 40+ year history I wouldn’t consider him #3. All part of the fun and surprise of this list. And I think it reflects one of the unique aspects of Marvel vs DC in that few, if any, or their characters are what holds the whole company together and anyone can be a top draw. If that makes sense to anyone other than me.

What a great choice!

I’m not surprised to find him this high. Fantastic Four, Avengers, and X-Men fans will split their votes as to their favorite characters, but Daredevil is just the one guy. Plus, I’m going to assume most readers of a comics blog weren’t very old when Miller turned DD into a top flight title.

So wait, it’s really early for me and I’m not thinking straight, but we now have Captain America left and…..who else? I know it has to be obvious by now, but I’m drawing a blank. I’m sure I’ll figure it out as soon as I hit “Submit Comment” though.

Sure enough. Damn, can’t believe I forgot Spidey. Ha ha ha. But what order will they be in? I’m thinking Spidey is #1 becaue he’s got about 20 differnt variations and costumes and universes he’s in. I wonder if a vote for Ben Reilly counted as a vote for Spider-Man? Probably not.

Huh. I had no idea people liked Daredevil that much.

I’ve never read a Daredevil comic, though.

I’ll add to the ‘Huh?’ chorus. Even after reading the comments above. To me – admittedly, as a casual fan, not the target demographic for this poll – Daredevil is the ultimate in one-note-gimmick superheroes. (And ‘let’s see how much we can make the blind guy suffer’ does not strike as a particularly original twist, either.)

Glad to see Matt ranking that high.

I’m actually not surprised DD placed this high. I think there’s two reasons for this: one, he’s one of the most realistic heroes there is. He loses as many fights as he wins, he makes huge mistakes, he’s had massive tragedy after massive tragedy, and he never, ever gives up. The character is pretty much defined by this spirit- no matter what the odds, keep fighting until you make it right.

The other factor, though, and probably more importantly, is that there probably isn’t a monthly super hero book that has as many classic (and long) runs as DD has had. Spiderman is a great character, but I don’t think anyone thinks that Amazing Spiderman the book has had nearly the great history that DD’s book has had. Batman is the greatest, but a lot of his most famous storylines took place outside of the core monthlies. Love him or hate him Bendis made DD’s monthly book an amazing read for what, five years? Then we get Brubaker? Frank Millers first run is probably the most famous, but then we get a second one and my personal favourite Daredevil story of them all (Born Again). Denny O’Neil did great things with the character, so did Kevin Smith and the vastly underrated Ann Nocenti. And the beat goes on. The character just seems to bring out the best in his creators.

I have a friend who only reads comics sporadically- every few years he heads back to the LCS and reads comics for a few months, maybe a year, then stops again for a while. On these trips he always, always buys Daredevil and DD trades, not because DD is his favorite character, but because he just assumes the book is good. He’s not always right, but I bet he is more often than not.

OK, works for me. Am still a little bemused by the character concept, but I can’t comment on the stories so will retire from the field. It is nice to see this many votes for sheer comic goodness, though.

Alright, a few numbers for you.

Daredevil comes in at #3 with 1006 points. That’s twice as many points as Nightcrawler, twice as many points as Power Man and Iron Fist (together)and five times as many points Galactus himself! (Ok, I realize none of these make a huge amount of sense. DD just doesn’t run in the same circles as most of the other characters on the list.)

Wally West comes in at #3 with 1275 points. That’s twice as much as all the other Flashes put together. Together the Flashes comes in at 1895, higher than the #2 position (or #4 and #5 combined). The heroic Wally is also more powerful than tons of villains than Bizarro, Black Adam, Catwoman, Darkseid, and Lex Luthor put together. (I’d compare him to his own Rogues gallery if any of them had made it.)

The trend of large gaps between positions and lots of #1 votes continues. Both #3 positions got more #1 votes than any other character on their list to date. With a gap of 184 and 134 (DC and Marvel respectively), #3 comes in with decisive wins over 4th place. So decisive that Doom couldn’t beat Daredevil with Iceman’s help (132 points @ #46) and Hal Jordan couldn’t beat Wally West with Deathstroke (171 points @ #40) giving him a hand.

The gap between DC and Marvel increases from 219 to 269. Though actually, Daredevil didn’t get as many points as Green Lantern @#4 did.

Hmmm. What other interesting tidbits can I throw out there? Diversity wise : Marvel has 7 characters without human hue, 7 non-humans, 4 characters with a color in their name, 11 female characters, but only 4 characters that aren’t caucasian. DC has 2 characters without human hue, 10 non-humans (not counting Superman), 11 characters with a color in their name (mostly green), 8 females, but no characters that aren’t caucasian.

The “newest” character was Impulse from 2004. While ost of the “newer” characters (Impulse, Robin, Ultimate Spiderman) are younger versions of established characters, the newest from Marvel is Jessica Jones (2001).

Notable teams : Fantastic Four’s original line up scored 1324 points. The original X-Men (4 members) scored 1566 points. The Green Lantern Corps (4 members) had 1651 points. The original Defenders (4 members) did well with 1877 points. The Flash Corps (4 members) 1895 points. Only a couple Teen Titans (2 members) came in, but they scored highly with 1940 points (Their replacements scored another 671 points). The New X-Men (7 members) scored 2399 points.

Still to come : The Avengers (4 classic members, Hawkeye, Thor, Iron Man, the Vision) had 2016 points (though Captain America is still missing). The JLA (4 classic members, Wally West, Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter) had 3346 points (though Batman and Superman are still missing).

I had planned on checking out the percentage of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Modern characters from each list, but that will take a lot more time than I can devote today. Maybe over the weekend.

Daredevil may not be Marvel’s best super-hero, but he is their best character. I like Spider-Man, The Thing, Hawkeye, Doom, and many other ranked close to DD, but none of them have the complexity of Matt Murdock.

He’s not just a collection of troubles who keeps getting dumped on. He’s not just Catholic guilt + crimefighting gimmick + lawyer. He’s a man who tries, through sheer force of will, to bring justice. He’s a man who makes some bad decisions, and has to live with them. He’s a man who laughs in the face of overwhelming danger. He’s a man of strength, compassion, and intelligence. He’s a …

Okay, this is way past sounding corny. I’ll just say Daredevil is my favorite Marvel character, and recommend:

the Wally Wood story in which DD fight Sub-Mariner.
the Gene Colan issues: semi-standard super-heroics drawn beautifully.
the Steve Gerber issues, because it’s Steve Gerber.
the aforementioned 163, for all the reasons Graham Vingoe stated.
the Frank Miller issues, especially Born Again.
the Ann Noccenti & JR Jr (& others) stories- still unlike any other super-hero comics I’ve ever read.
DD: the Man Without Fear: Frank Miller & JR Jr do an amazing job telling Daredevil’s origin.
The Fall of the Kingpin, by DG Chickchester & Lee Weeks- vol.1, issues 297-300. DD gets revenge on Kingpin.
the Karl Kesel/ Cary Nord issues (starting with, I think, 352)- fun super-heroics, especially the issue featuring Absorbing Man.
DD Minus 1- a sentimental story of Matt’s first day at college, by Joe Kelly & Gene Colan.
Issue 380- Chickchester & Weeks tell an entertaining tale.
I’ve enjoyed the title since the relaunch, from Kevin Smith & Joe Quesada to Brubaker, Lark, & Co.

Daredevil is #2 on my list.
Some of comic’s best talent has worked on DD. It’s been so good for so long that fans have come to expect it and there’s more dimension to his non-costumed persona than just about any other hero in comics. Daredevil represents how far you can take the superhero concept in the direction of accomplished, multi-dimensional storytelling.

There are lots of good comics. When you want to read a great one, there’s almost no surer bet than DD.

Damn, my two favorite characters both at #3.

Guess I can’t complain about that.

Why is DD so high? Because his comics are good!

Really nice list, Mike.
Mazzucchelli MUST be mentioned alongside Frank Miller when listing Born Again, though. And Bendis and Maleev deserve specific mention.
Terrific work.

Aw great! DD is my favourite character and while I knew he would obviously make the top 10 I couldn’t be sure that he would crack the top 3. To me he represents the underdog in so many ways. Plus he is one of the more complex characters out there with a book that some of the best writers have flocked to over the years, leaving behind some of their best work. DD’s the first character on the Marvel list to get over 1000 points too. Awesome. Also cool to see the Flash at #3 on the DC list.

My only gripe is that I didn’t know about this stuff in time to vote, which of course is no ones fault but mine. Aw well. Still a lot of fun to read.

Obviosuly Cap and Spidey are in the top 2 spots. Looking forward to seeing their point totals.

Patrick Zircher, you’re absolutely right. I also should have mentioned Klaus Janson in there for his amazing work with Miller, first as his inker than as penciller and inker. I miss those two working together.

I didn’t vote for Daredevil, but I have to admit, his comic book has been the most consistently good of all the major (and not-so-major) classic superheroes. There has been the occasional rotten run (the D. G. Chichester issues in the mid-90s come to mind), but mostly we’ve had a string of winners.

I think Daredevil has had a lot of great stories about him, and there are a lot of great, epic-Stan-Lee elements of the character (blind hero , lawer-vigilante, Catholic guardian devil), but really, number 3? Then again, I think the character at the #2 position is even less deserving though(unless there is a huge, Internet-breaking upset and Spidey ends up at #2).

Daredevil rocks. I’m still irritated by that crappy movie they made, as the character has such a rich mythology, and deserved much better than that.

I think I liked DGC’s run better than Miller’s.

I like DD because of the respect he seems to get from the creators. Not only are his issues consistantly good from creator to creator, but he seems to be able to miss most of the major crossovers.

How many other titles that could be good (in either company) fail because they can’t get their story told in between major company crossovers?

But, when DD is involved in a crossover (clairification: I didn’t read Civil War) it still makes sense. When the Beyonder was going around granting wishes, he restored Matt’s sight and left him his powers. By the end of the issue, Matt realized that this gave the Beyonder a “hold” on him. He compared it to organized crime saying, “remember this thing I did for you, now you do this thing for me.” And, even though the Beyonder clearly didn’t understand such a concept, the worry that he might was enough for Matt to not only refuse the gift, but to demand he take his sight.

That’s a level of character and integrity that defines heroism and goes beyond mere super-powers, IMHO.

Theno

Daredevil made the top three because his title currently features Dakota North.

“Why is DD so high? Because his comics are good!”

Yep, that’s my take on it. I find him only of middling interest as a character per se, but there sure have been a lot of good stories about him! Which, y’know, is pretty unlikely to happen if there’s nothing there….

I might be biased by real life to some degree, as Matt Murdock’s grasp of real-world legal ethics is, more often than not, abominable….

Sure enough. Damn, can’t believe I forgot Spidey. Ha ha ha. But what order will they be in? I’m thinking Spidey is #1 becaue he’s got about 20 differnt variations and costumes and universes he’s in. I wonder if a vote for Ben Reilly counted as a vote for Spider-Man? Probably not.

He’s the greatest superhero ever created. Plain and simple. No need for any funky justifications like 20 different costume variations or Ben Reilly votes to explain why Spider-Man will be #1. He will be #1 simply because he is the best superhero character on the face of the earth. Look at what his movies gross and you can see that the character resonates with people on an insane level.

F’ing A.

Ann Nocenti is a Reason to Love Comics frankly.

Lovin’ the Ann Noccenti love here…her run is often ignored or looked down on, but she’s the one who followed Miller, and rather than copy him, went her on awesome way.

David Mazzucchelli is, indeed, one of the best artists to grace the medium, and his art is a huge part of “Born Again’s” success. See also: Batman Year One. Bendis & Maleev ignited the title, and made it one of my favorite comics. I also loved the David Mack and Joe Quesada & Co. story, and the touching, tragic Bendis/Mack three-parter.

The first Noccenti issue (I think) was drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith. Issue 236, IIRC. WEll-worth finding (and probably cheap, too!)

Most people who read this site probably know this, but Miller did an issue drawn by John Buscema (#219), featuring DD in a strange town and sans costume. It’s great.

Harlan Ellison wrote a Daredevil story, I think it was in the low 200s.

I loved “Fall from Grace” when it came out. Outing Matt Murdock, changing his life around, brining back Elektra, Scott McDaniel’s art (some of which was inked by Michael Avon Oeming)- as groan-inducing as it may be now, “Fall From grace” was one of the most exciting Event comics of the ’90s. I haven’t read the story in quite some time, and could not put it on a list of all-time DD best, but I was hooked in 1993.

Daredevil used to be one of my favorite Marvel heroes when I was a young comics reader in the late ’60s through the ’70s.

Then Frank Miller got hold of him, and turned him into a monster — as he did with Batman, and will likely do with The Spirit in the film version.

I don’t begrudge the fans who enjoy the dark, psychotic Daredevil. Everyone’s entitled to like what they like. But I sure miss the old Matt Murdock.

Daredecil got the Bronze!! having followed his adventures for a lot of years (“alot” indeed) I can say I’m very, very glad.

For a superhero which is, technically on Marvel’s “B” rooster (no space opera, no ultra-mighty superpower… Just a blind guy with enhanced senses, Radar and sound physical training), DD’s got an impressive list of authors, some of which have done some of their best work in Ol’ Hornhead’s series, and generally, because they wrote about a character they loved, and this love sure has channelled to us readers.

Personally, I’d have liked Murdock to get the Silver medal… ’cause the Gold would go for Foggy ;D here’s to you, Nelson, ol’ hound-dog!

I think Daredevil has actually equal standing with Superman/Batman in that he’s become a massively versatile character. Wisecracking swashbuckler or brooding vigilante, against supervillains or organised crime, he works in a lot of different milieus and with different characterisations without ever seeming like he’s a significantly different character.

I love Karl Kesel’s take as much as I do Miller’s.

I love to feel the Kesel love! One of my favourite runs!

The fact that DD placed so high reaffirms my belief that you comic book folk here actually know of what you speak. If only until I see who’s #1 and #2 (oh god).

I had expected Daredevil to rank high, but never would have dreamed he’d make #3. (Not that I’m complaining, though – he is a great character.)

“Why is DD so high? Because his comics are good! ”

I think that is a great point. You read some of the characters’ synopses and they are very short with not much featured aside from their origin. DD has his origin, then events 20 years later and again another 20 years later. Most characters don’t have that much ‘story’ behind them.

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