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10/08 – Curious Cat Asks…

What is your all-time favorite non-Frank Miller run by a writer on Daredevil?

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68 Comments

D. G. Chichester, before he went insane: #284-300. Bendis comes in a close second.

It’d be hard to argue with Bendis’s run. Although David Mack had a nice short arc.

I enjoyed Fabian Nicieza’s run but JR jr. is just as responsible for my enjoyment of that period.

Karl Kesel, absolutely, far, far more than Frank Miller’s.

It’s one of the most fun runs on a comic ever.

Nicieza to my knowledge never had a run with Romita. Ann Nocenti had a run with JR JR, and Nicieza had a single issue fill in during that run, DD #258, but Ron Lim was the artist on that. Is there a Nicieza/JR JR Daredevil run I don’t know about (there are gaps in my DD knowledge)?

I would say Ann Nocenti, particularly the JRJR issues. Although I did love the story she did with BWS at the beginning of her run. Dennis O’Neil comes a close second mainly for the Micah Synn story.

Brian Michael Bendis, followed by Nocenti.

I’m loving Ed Brubaker’s current run on Daredevil. It’s probably the strongest this book has been since Miller wrote it.

The strangest part about saying that is that Bru’s run is so different than anything Frank did with the character. The prison break story was wonderful and the current Gladiator/Mr. Fear/Enforcers arc has been truly excellent.

Hell, the very fact that Brubaker is able to make great stories where Daredevil battles Mr. Fear, The Enforcers and The Gladiator rather than falling back on Bullseye and a never-ending swarm of scarlet-clad ninjas demands that his run be noticed.

I also remeber liking Karl Kesel and Cary Nord’s run on Dardevil from about ten years ago quite a lot (just before the original volume folded). Of course, my enjoyment of this run could have stemmed from Late 90s Dumb Shenanigans Fatigue* as much as the quality of the stories on their own, but I do remember liking these issues a lot.

*Late 90s Dumb Shenanigans Fatigue is defined as having waited through a period in comics when the following ideas were considered “great”:

- Armored Daredevil/Jack Batlin, Superman bludgeoned to death by giant mindless creature, Demon Punisher (shudder), Guy Gardner: Warrior (shudder again), Hal Jordan: Hero to Mass Murderer in three issues (though, to be fair, GL Rebirth made even less sense), Ghost Rider/Venom/Lobo/Punisher/Spider-Man/Wolverine/Cable guest-starring in everything every single month, Image Comics (And no, some great Alan Moore stories do not forgive the original sin.), X-Force, Onslaught (and all that implies), Clone Saga/Return of Green Goblin, etc.

Tired yet?

Well, other than Miller I’ve only read Smith, Bendis, and the first trade of Brubaker. So I’d have to damn ed with faint praise and say the last was my favorite of the three…

Bendis of course, followed by Anne Nocenti.

In my opinion the Bendis run is actually better than Miller’s original run when viewed as a whole. “Born Again” has yet to be bested. Of course, if FM hadn’t re-vamped the character then we would never have got to read Bendis’ stories. Bendis has also written far more issues of consistantly high quality.

However, I’m amazed that Brubaker has succeeded in actually maintaining the high standards set for this title since it became part of the Marvel Knights imprint (and that includes Kevin Smith’s run at the beginning which was also great).

Darnitall, I get Nocenti and Nicieza mixed up because I used to think both were female comic writers (I was 8, give me a break). Of course, I meant the Nocenti run with JRJR. I am an ass.

Nocenti and Bendis, in very different ways.
Really its amazing the comic has had such a great amount of talent working on it.

Marv Wolfman or Bendis. Denny O’ Neil’s up there, too.

Oh yeah. I forgot about her ’till I read the comments, but Ann I-can’t-spell-her-last-name did some good work, too.

(Weird. With pretty much any other title I could give you one single answer. Maybe it’s just ’cause I like Daredevil a lot, but there’ve been many different runs on the character I really like.)

Ann I-can’t-spell-her-last-name

But it’s so simple.

No. Sen. Tee.

Nocenti.

Karl Kessel–this run made me a DD fan, not Miller.

I don’t know whether it’s my all time favourite, but in my opinion the Karl Kesel run 1)deserves a paperback collection and 2)deserved to be much longer. I can only hope someday Kesel will return for a second round of DD.

Nocenti.

Oh, and DeMatteis (though he only lasted one tiny arc). Whereas I think Kesel was a tad overrated (and I love Kesel’s writing), and Joe Kelly was HORRIBLY overrated (“me make Typhoid Mary character who clearly fell to death with no chance of surviving even if she were an X-Man!”) .

I’ll always have a soft spot for the first dozen or so, by Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Wally Wood, and others.

Gerry Conway, of all people, did some cool stuff in the 70′s, when DD went to San Francisco and hooked up with the Black Widow. Reading those reprints in DD #100 recently reminded me how much I liked them when I was 12…

There was only one writer that came close to Miller’s run.
Kevin Smith. He did more with just seven issues than Bendis did in what…..forty-something. The first David Mack run which introduced Echo is a very close second and Brubaker’s stuff is really good….because it fixes all the crap Bendis screwed up.

Brubaker’s run blows Bendis’ out of the water so far. There’s just this incredible feeling that he knows exactly what he’s doing, that there’s no wasted motion at all.

Bendis is all about the wasted motion.

Well, I think we’ve just about mentioned every single writer now. Funny how Daredevil is perpetually blessed with passionate writers doing daring work (especially since Stan himself never seemed that invested in his creation).

Most underrated DD storyline: Nocenti’s last storyline, beautifully illustrated by Lee Weeks.

Brubaker. While I was entertained by Bendis’ run, Brubaker is kicking his ass all over the place.

Hands down, it’s ann Nocenti. I also say D.G. Chichester up until Issue 301.
The question of the beast ‘Non-Frank-Miller’ writer is a little faulty, though. I’m sure lots of people (me included) like other writer’s runs better than Miller’s.

Bendis first, Nocenti second.

Mack, Smith — same order, but at the bottom. Give me Daredevil & The Black Widow any day over that stuff.

Honorable mention to David Hine, whose “Redemption” 6-issue mini (set in DD’s early days DD, despite coming out during Bendis’s, well, outed arc) deftly tied the capes ‘n’ tights to a one-step-removed examination of real-life, persecuted ‘devil worshippers.’ Brilliant.

I said it on here before, Ann Nocenti is a Reason To Love Comics.

Haven’t bought a daredevil issue since they armoured him, so can’t comment on anything since then. When were these Bendis issues and were they really so good?

My favorites other than Miller were the Nocenti/Romita. I thought the best moments in that whole Fall of the Mutants shenanigans were in that DD double-sized issue. And the “Virgin Mary”/Typhoid Mary intro was great.

I also like some of the early Stan Lee issues, especially the first appearance of the Purple Man and the Doctor Doom body-switch.

Chichester.

The Nocenti stuff isn’t all that great–JR jr’s art made everything look wonderful at the time, though.

But Chichester was saddled with muddy artwork (overstylized muddy artwork) for the most part, and yet he tried to take Daredevil in new, and interesting, directions. His work was also filled with pulse-pounding excitement and labyrinthian plot twists (which could be one reason why he’s not so highly regarded). But his run was good.

Miller is over-rated. Ann Nocenti did a far better job on DD than him. Chichester is my second option.

When all is said and told, both creators gave depth to the character, far more than Miller ever tried to. He _did_ bring DD (and later Batman) out of their familiar niches and into new neighborhoods, but when the novelty factor wears off it ends up just being urban noir-lite with little character development.

I’m surprised that nobody has come out and said that Miller’s run is just a tad overrated, so I guess I’ll bite the bullet and say just that. In fact, I never read Nocenti’s run (though I’ve read good things about it), because I had given up on DD before Miller’s run was over.
I’ll have to nominate Bendis in top position. Yes, he has written some bad things since (or at the same time), and has said things that can make him come across as a bit of a dick, but if I let that retroactively affect my opinion of his DD run, that would make me a total dick (this applies to all of you as well).
Then Brubaker. “You really thought I’d kill Foggy?” Hilarious. Especially the outrage.
Also, not enough love above for the pre-Miller people, so I’ll throw in Gerber (the “pre god of comics”, or the Titan to Morrison’s Olympian) and Conway (especially when pencilled by Bob Brown).

Well, I think we’ve just about mentioned every single writer now.

Well, we’re missing Gerber and, surprisingly, Roy Thomas.

P.S. Good calls from Johnny B. on the Conway run and (especially) those couple Wally Wood issues.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 8, 2007 at 6:04 pm

I’ll have to nominate Bendis in top position. Yes, he has written some bad things since (or at the same time), and has said things that can make him come across as a bit of a dick, but if I let that retroactively affect my opinion of his DD run, that would make me a total dick (this applies to all of you as well).

I don’t rate his run, because I couldn’t finish it.
After the initial unmasking, it all just slowed right down, and conversations went on for ages – yet had no purpose, and it became style over substance.

Hmmm, I guess Denny O’Neill, though Brubaker is shaping up to be pretty good…never got the love for Bendis, he started out with a great idea (mobsters turn on and kill the Kingpin because he’s too busy being a supervillain to be an effective mob boss), and then shot it all to shit and in the process killed off my favorite Spider-Man villain ever, The Rose…

I’m an old softie for the Lee/Colan run of Daredevil.
Mainly because Gene’s the man.

Bendis slightly edging Nocenti. Brubaker may be my favorite when he’s done, though.

Bendis over Nocenti, but only just. I haven’t read Brubaker yet as I’m waiting for Marvel to release an nice, handsome hardcover to go with my other ones. In truth, beyond “Born Again,” I only found Miller’s work on the title to be a little above average (and occasionally below). I recognize that he was important in jump-starting and redirecting the title, and I will admit to thinking it was AWESOME when I was a kid when Bullseye skewered Elektra,* but I think I need to agree with all those who suggested that Miller’s run may be a tad overrated.

FunkyGJ: At risk of sounding cliché, how can you honestly say whether Bendis’ run, in final consideration, “had no purpose” and had become an example of style over substance if you never finished it? Whether it did or didn’t become what you suggest, it seems that you are not exactly in any kind of position to judge that.

*note: this was also the kid who thought Rob Liefeld’s New Mutants was AWESOME!!

Brubaker, no question.

In fact, I’d say he’s better – and more consistent – than Miller. I like my heroes sane, and FM made Matt Murdock crazier & more messed up every time he came back to the character. It got so bad that I ultimately couldn’t sympathize with the Matt Murdock of MAN WITHOUT FEAR, beating up thugs in an alley because he thinks they’re the kids who teased him in school.

Denny O’Neil’s run was also very good. Kevin Smith’s run is hideously overrated & just a regurgitiation of Miller. Never read Bendis’s run, as his writing is not to my taste.

Kesel – he had a very underated run.

Nocenti’s Daredevil comics were unlike any comics I’ve read before or since. I’ll second Brubaker, then Bendis (who could have been number 1 if he kept pushing forward), Kesel (who would have been number 1 if he wrote the book as long as some other notable DD scribes), Gerber, Mack, Chichester (who wrote both excellent and atrocious DD comics), Lee (who probably had no idea just how far the original DD concept would go), Smith (I loved his run when it was coming out, but it doesn’t hold up as well on rereading), & Kelly (if he wrote DD a few years later, it would have been better; that said, I loved DD Minus 1). I haven’t read enough Thomas, O’Neil, DeMatteis, McKenzie, or Conway stories to comment on their contributions. That one Warren Ellis issue (either 344 or 345), in which the Jack Batlin identity was put to rest, was pretty good.

Bendis all the way. In fact between the runs I like Bendis’ over Millers, it’s born again rather than his run that puts him at top in my mind.
Bendis crafted this crime story around a crumbling man, making Matt Murdok interesting in a way he hasn’t been in years. He made us look at the man and question him in a whole new light, something that didn’t come off as meta or deconstructing becuase he mixed genres enough for us to see him almost as the out of luck P.I. where drudging through the lowest times in life is commonplace. I see it as a mixed genre epic that certainly imagines mainstream superhero comics differently than in years (with no small thanks to Maleev)
Brubaker’s run fell completly flat with me after that first arc, to where I actually find it kind of boring. And I always feel it’s very derivitive of Miller but I’m not sure if that is intentional or not

Bendis’ Daredevil got me to believe in superhero comics again, so it has to be him. (I think the first 12 or so issues comprise one of the best superhero comics of the past decade) I have to say I’m loving Brubaker as well.

Before Bendis, I liked Nocenti and DeMatteis, imperfect though their runs overall might have been. And Kesel was a lovely ’60s throwback that was quite sweet.

Thomas/Colan, if only for the awesome artwork.

I’m not particularly a Daredevil fan, but I am a Bendis fan, so I’ll just add two cents on his DD run.

I love Powers, Ultimate Spider-Man and a lot of the indie books (Torso, Goldfish, etc.) that Bendis used to do, so I recently picked up the first TPB of his DD run. I thought it was terrible – it may have been one of the most decompressed comics I’ve ever read. There’s about a page’s worth of story in that whole trade.

I know, I know, that’s Bendis, but it was just too much for me. Or not enough.

Bendis is usually pretty good at dialog, but you would never know it from that book, either. The whole thing just wasn’t very good – glacial pacing, stilted dialog, boring situations. I know that everybody has different tastes, but I am a little surprised to see so much love for this run.

Ann Nocenti by far. Hers was the Daredevil I first read and as an 11-year-old, that book floored me.

Nocenti is the only DD writer besides Miller who’s run never really faltered for me. She went a bit weird at the end, but it was still good. I hope Brubaker joins them both; he’s off to a great start.

As for the rest: Bendis started strong, but fell waaaaay off after issue #50. The back half of Smith’s was awful. Like others have said, Chichester was great until #301. Kessel and Kelly’s runs were fun, but nothing amazing. Lobdell’s 4-issues were decent. And aside from assorted fill-ins, that’s all I read.

Oh, except the last issue of the pre-MK run, I think #380. Was that Chichester and Lee Weeks? That was good too. But still… Nocenti all the way.

Choosing just one run?! Mission impossible for me: I really got into the s eries in the Miller era, but I generally like what went after and before: I love Kesel’s Happy days, I think O’Neil’s run was on average very decent with some fine moments (ans… the Advent of Mazzuchelli!), I liked Nocenti’s daring choices, I quite enjoyed Chichester’s stories pre-grey armour (and particularly tthe ones drawn by Lee Weeks)…

I got to read the pre-Miller stuff uch later and there are a lot of stories I like there, too, and particularly the early Lee-Wood-Romita Sr. issues.

The Devil has certainly been lucky about his writers and artists on average.

There’s one run I don’t like, tho´: Smith’s. Under the noise and fury, the plot doesn’t resist a second reading. And he killed Karen Page. :(

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 9, 2007 at 12:52 am

FunkyGJ: At risk of sounding cliché, how can you honestly say whether Bendis’ run, in final consideration, “had no purpose” and had become an example of style over substance if you never finished it? Whether it did or didn’t become what you suggest, it seems that you are not exactly in any kind of position to judge that.

Because I’ve read the four or five trades I’d brought, I got up to the Black Widow one, and by the last one I’d read the style had taken over – especially noticable after the one year gap.
There were conversations that went on for pages with no purpose, and I’d stopped feeling any threats to the characters.

I put myself in a position to judge anything I’ve read/experienced to be quite honest, why the heck wouldn’t I???
How do you make opinions about things?

(I also think Judd Winnick made Green Arrow boring, Y: The Last Man lost it’s pacing, Ultimate Spiderman became way too decompressed, Bruce Jones’ Hulk had too many plots and that Xtreme X-Men was directionless – I didn’t read the entire runs of any of them, but surely I’m allowed to have an opinion about the books I read).

The Kesel run, which I can make in under twelve parsecs.

Probably Bendis. On the strength of Inside and Out v1 I’d probably say Brubaker, but on volume 2 didn’t quite hold up the same standard. Brubaker’s still likely to take Bendis’s place any time soon though.

disclaimer – I haven’t read Anne Nocenti’s run.

The Kesel run is really the Anti-Miller run too.

First things first, thank you Mutt. Taht were funny.

I’m a little confused on this whole “Miller run” thing. For me, he had several, distinct “runs”. There’s early stuff where he provided pencils and got the occasional writer/co-plotter credit. There’s the period made famous by the Elektra/Bullseye stuff where he’s firmly in charge with Jansen on inks. And then there’s Born Again, which probably gets the nod as my favorite “run”, largely due to Dave M.

Anyway, outside of any of those, I think I have to vote Bru. I just finished the third trade and, man, that’s good comics. Todd’s point about being able to use “comic booky” adversaries is a really good one. Overall, I’m impressed at how the Bru hasn’t fallen back onto making DD a straight noir/crime story, but instead has melded elements of that into the superhero story. Like he’s done with spy stories and Cap. He’s just at the top of the game right now.

I liked Bendis’ run, which had some phenomenal ideas (the nervous breakdown reveal being my favorite one) but some definite problems with execution. I think BMB often failed to meld the crime elements into a superhero comic, often giving us whole arcs without Matt in costume/action and losing the swashbuckling/”he enjoys this” part of the character.

Haven’t re-read the Nocenti stuff in ages, but remember really loving it, so she probably goes #3 on my list.

Mercifully exited the scene for the late 90s, so I haven’t read any of the Chichester, Kesel or Kelly stuff. Smith’s run doesn’t hold up and has some boneheaded moves (Mysterio’s death pisses me off more than Karen’s). My least favorite stuff has probably been anything with Mack. Echo’s a decent enough idea, I suppose, but never gelled into a real character for me.

Bendis’ run is better than Miller’s, IMO, even if Born Again is the greatest DD story overall.

I think Brubaker is doing a terrific job on DD at the moment, Bendis and Maleev’s run is oustanding and Chichester before he exploded into self-indulgence (ie. up until the Tree Of Knowledge storyline) was a fine writer.

I think JM DeMatteis’ very brief stint showed potential and could have been interesting had he stayed on the title longer.

Another writer no one mentioned is Jim Shooter, who worked with Gil Kane and Gene Colan and wrote the first Daredevils I got into as a little kid. Lots of fun with Death Stalker and Purple Man, and he made Heather Glenn a major supporting player. My favorite issue from that period is #154: DD and Paladin vs. Hyde, Cobra, Jester and Gladiator under the command of Purple Man.

Having said all that, my favorite non-Miller was the O’Neil stuff between Elektra and “Born Again”. I was at an age where I didn’t pay attention to the writer’s name in the credits, and while I noticed a change in style, I never lost my enthusiasm for the stories, Denny was just as engaging to me.

Personal highlights of that run for me were O’Neil and Mazzuchelli delivering, in my opinion: the best Two-Gun Kid story, the best Jester story, the best Vulture story and the best Beyonder story.

I haven’t read Brubaker’s stuff yet and only a few random issues before Miller’s first run, but I would say that the Kesel and Kelly issues at the end of volume 1 were really enjoyable. O’Neill and Chichester tie in third place. I really don’t get why people like Nocenti. Her later stuff is just too weird for me, and she portrays Matt as downright unlikeable. Besides, for someone who gets labeled as “progressive” she manages to paint a picture of non-superpowered blind people (remember Tyrone everyone?) that is just downright offensive. Okay, that was twenty years ago, but still…

Oh, I almost forgot, I liked Bendis a lot too so he should be up there with Kesel and Kelly somewhere.

Nocenti, Kesel, Bendis till #50, Chikester till #300 (both rand end completly off rails after a while, but started great).

What Doodlebob said:

Nocenti and Bendis – very different ways. Probably Nocenti first, because she was the first (and because i LOVED, and still love, JRJR)

The Kesel run, which I can make in under twelve parsecs.

^^OK, that was just hilarious. Hat’s off to you, Mutt. I’m mad I didn’t see that joke first.

I’m late to this party, but Johhny Bacardi is spot on with his comments on Gerry Conway. Roger McKenzie, who wrote the first few Miller-drawn issues, is overlooked: there’s some nice work in there, and it makes for a good transition from the more straightforward superheroics that went before to Miller’s first run as writer.

Bendis. The quality got a bit sporadic after issue #60, but overall, a very impressive run.

Ann Nocenti who I rank above Miller, actually

Ann Nocenti’s run, especially once John Romita Jr & Al Williamson came aboard as regular art team. True, Nocenti often her stories were very preachy. But they were also very thought-provoking, and explored the differnt sides of complex issues.

I specifically recall the ultra left wing feminist/animal rights activist, and her ultra right wing macho gun-toting CIA operative father. Many writers would have written the daughter as a saint, and the father as a one-dimensional heartless villain. But Nocenti showed that both of these people had flaws, that it was a relationship with a lot of grey and ambiguity to it.

Oh, yeah, and who can forget Daredevil going to hell? the idea of Daredevil fighting Mephisto sounds patently ridiculous, but Nocenti make it work, writing a story which explored issues of faith and free will and the nature of good & evil.

And then Daredevil (literally) returned to Earth, as we got Dan Chichester & Lee Weeks onboard, penning a ten issue or so arc that culminated in DD finally taking down the Kingpin. Fantastic stuff.

I would even argue that Chichester’s later stuff on DD was also good. “Tree of Knowledge” was very prescient, with its notions of Hydra committing terrorist actions in order to push the government into enacting draconian laws and setting up matrial law in the name of national security. In the mid-1990s, I didn’t really understand what Chichester was attempting to communicate, but having re-read the story arc a couple of months ago, it definitely brought to mind the post September 11th political atmosphere in the United States.

William O'Brien

October 10, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Miller’s run didn’t keep a consistent level of quality, but I think the cream of his run is by far the best of any of them. 181, 185, and 191 are absolutely top-notch single issues (181 might be my favorite single issue of any series). Born Again is the best Marvel story ever printed. He also made Bullseye and Kingpin top-flight villains (probably still the only one to use Bullseye well). The key to Miller’s run was his ability to innovate (something he’s stopped doing in the past 15 years or so) while writing quality stories.

I stopped reading the Bendis run after #50. It’s high level stuff, but I think it suffers in comparison with the other Bendis work of the time (Powers and Alias).

Bru is off to a great start. Loved his perfect use of the Punisher, and the escalating tension of the first arc. The next two arcs haven’t been as good, but they are still high quality. Like Bendis, his DD run is out-shined a bit by his other current work (Cap, Fist, Criminal).

I enjoyed Smith’s run, but it’s nothing special.

Dhole,you must be 36.I’m w/you .those were good stories.Do you remember GoldFace(mask?)?Funnyhow since Smith & Miller ignored Heather Glenn’s VERY tortured existence, that Marvel has too. I dont know why.She was TRAGIC long before Miller or Smith met Karen Page.No more mention of Glorianna after Nocenti or Miller either. Seems like they’re mising some gold only mentioning Electra.Page & Milla in DD’s myhtos.

Funnyhow since Smith & Miller ignored Heather Glenn’s VERY tortured existence, that Marvel has too. I dont know why.She was TRAGIC long before Miller or Smith met Karen Page.No more mention of Glorianna after Nocenti or Miller either.

Does Matt Murdock know any normal women?!?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 11, 2007 at 6:38 pm

I still want to know if I’m allowed to have an opinion on things I have read, even if I lost interest and stopped before the author had finished their ‘run’.

I love Bendis AND Maleev, if it was just Bendis plotting/dialogue then he would be second to Brubaker (a distant second when compared to Bru and Larks first arc)
Cheers.

Frank Miller

Dennis O’Neil

Brian Bendis

David Mack

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