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CSBG Archive

The Greatest Daredevil Stories Ever Told!

Every day in November we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Daredevil Stories Ever Told!


10. Daredevil (Volume 2) #1-8 “Guardian Devil”

Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti brought Daredevil back to the forefront of the comic book world with their relaunch of the second volume of Daredevil. In many ways, this was the birth of the current Marvel Universe, as Quesada taking over Daredevil (and three other titles) eventually led to Quesada taking over Marvel entirely as the new Editor-in-Chief.

This story deals with the Spider-Man villain Mysterio dealing with a fatal illness. With Spider-Man replaced by a new hero, Mysterio decides to pick Daredevil as his new arch-nemesis and creates an elaborate series of tests and trials for Daredevil to face with DD presumably, in the end, being forced to kill Mysterio (which Mysterio feels is the “right” way for him to go out). Will Daredevil be pushed over the brink or will he hang on to the ledge?

9. Daredevil (Volume 2) #32-40 “Out”

After the events of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s first story arc, Daredevil’s secret identity has been leaked to the press! This storyline shows the ripple effects such a dramatic event has in the life of Daredevil and all those around him.

8. Daredevil (Volume 1) #191 “Roulette”

In the final issue of Frank Miller’s stellar initial run on Daredevil, Daredevil plays Russian Roulette with a paralyzed Bullseye as Daredevil contemplates his own value in society. As Daredevil notes to the incapicitated villain, “What am I giving people by running around in tights and punching crooks? What am I showing them? Am I showing them that good wins out, the crime does not pay, that the cavalry is always on its way — or am I showing them that any idiot with fists for brains can get his way if he’s fast enough and mean enough? Am I fighting violence — or teaching it?” For this final issue, Miller also does full pencils (Terry Austin inks the book).

7. Daredevil (Volume 1) #7 “In Mortal Combat with Sub-Mariner”

This is the “battle against unbelievable odds” that all future “battle against unbelievable odds” have been measured against ever since it first came out! Namor decides to sue the surface world and tries to hire Matt Murdock. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan, and Daredevil decides he needs to get involved. And here’s the REALLY interesting thing about this issue. Despite being an amazing issue, it also is the FIRST appearance of Daredevil’s NEW costume!!! How cool of a coincidence is that?!!? Anyhow, the rest of the issue is spent with Daredevil fighting a two-front battle. On the one hand, he is trying to convince the army and the authorities to let HIM bring Namor in (to cut down on property damage and injuries to innocents) and on the other hand, he is trying to get Namor to RESPECT the law of the surface world, and if he can’t do that, he will have to do his best to bring in the powerhouse who is a WHOLE lot more powerful than Daredevil. Eventually, Daredevil’s bravery causes Namor to give up his quest for revenge. Just one of the most powerful issues Marvel had up until this point in the Silver Age. And it is amazing to see that it does not involve either of the two most famous Silver Age Marvel artists, Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko. That’s how amazing Wally Wood was – he was right up there with two of the greatest artists in comics history!

6. Daredevil (Volume 2) #82-87 “The Devil Inside and Out Volume 1″

After the events of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark took over Daredevil with the lead character, Matt Murdock, stuck in Ryker’s Island prison with an assortment of criminals, both super-powered and not. What Matt does not know is that even as he sits behind bars, people are plotting to end his life. Brubaker tells an intricately plotted story in this, his initial storyline of an acclaimed run on Daredevil, and Lark’s art on the book is excellent.

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5. Daredevil (Volume 2) #26-31 “Underboss”

In Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s initial Daredevil story (part of their long acclaimed run on the book), they introduce a rising star in the Kingpin’s organization who plots not just to overthrow the Kingpin but also to take out Daredevil. The story is told through a series of leaps in time. It is an intricate and engrossing crime drama that manages to bring a fresh take to Daredevil.

4. Daredevil (Volume 2) #46-50) “Hardcore”

In Hardcore (by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev), Matt Murdock, who just had to deal with the trouble of being “outed” as Daredevil, is suddenly besieged by bad guys at the behest of Wilson Fisk, who is attempting to make a move to return as the Kingpin of New York.

Typhoid Mary and Bullseye, his secret identity problems plus the fact that he had just begun dating a very nice woman (named Milla) all combined to make Matt extremely distracted, which was the Kingpin’s plan, naturally.

So finally, enough was enough, and Matt took the fight right to Kingpin and, in a remarkable shock to everyone present, Matt savagely beat down Fisk and then tore off his (Daredevil’s) mask and announced that he, Daredevil, was the NEW Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen!

Alex Maleev was joined on art in this story with a variety of Daredevil all-star artists on the final part, including John Romita and Gene Colan.

3. Daredevil: The Man Without Fear #1-5

This excellent five-issue origin series by Frank Miller with artwork by John Romita Jr. and the late, great Al Williamson originated as a screenplay for a potential Daredevil film. It adapts well to an elaboration on the new additions to Matt Murdock’s past that Miller had made during his initial Daredevil run (specifically Elektra and Stick).

2. Daredevil (Volume 1) #168, 174-182, 187-190 “The Elektra Saga”

Elektra was introduced in the first issue of Daredevil fully written by Frank Miller, as a former “love of Matt Murdock’s life” in college who, after her father (a Greek ambassador)’s assassination, moved away from New York only to return years later as an assassin herself.

Throughout much of the next 14 issues Matt Murdock has to deal with Elektra’s return, both in his personal life as Matt Murdock (seeing his first real love again after years apart) and in his superhero life as Daredevil as Elektra was, you know, an assassin, and Daredevil doesn’t take kindly to assassins.

This duality came into play pretty early on, as the pair alternated between teaming up and fighting each other.

Things changed, however, when Elektra was chosen personally by Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, to become his chief assassin.

Now she and Matt were definitively at odds – although when she was assigned to murder Foggy Nelson’s, Matt’s law partner (and former college roommate), she could not go through with it when Foggy recognized her, showing that there was still some good in her.

However, this epiphany did not last long, as her rival assassin, Bullseye, chose to prove himself to Kingpin by taking Elektra out, which he did, slicing her throat with a playing card and then stabbing her to death with her own sai (which were her weapons of choice).

Her death had a profound impact upon Matt, as did her later attempted resurrection by the ninja group, the Hand.

This was Miller’s first ongoing series as writer and artist, and it was quite impressive to see how adept he was at creating engaging, memorable characters with strong interpersonal relationships.

The great Klaus Janson began the run as Miller’s inker but by the end of this time, he was basically penciling AND inking the book (over Miller’s layouts).

1. Daredevil (Volume 1) #227-233 “Born Again”

Born Again drastically re-shaped Daredevil as a character, in Frank Miller’s return to the book that made him famous.

This time, Miller was working with artist David Mazzucchelli, who was already doing very impressive work on the series with writer Denny O’Neil. However, Mazzucchelli was still growing as an artist, and in many ways, Born Again was his “coming out” party, as he at the very least equaled, and more likely SURPASSED the incredible artwork that Miller had done himself when drawing Daredevil years earlier.

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The story is about what happens when Matt Murdock’s former secretary (and former love of his life), Karen Page, who had left the book to become an actress, was now a drug-addicted porn star. Desperate for drugs, Page sells Matt’s secret identity. Eventually this information finds its way to Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, who uses it to systematically destroy Matt’s life (getting him disbarred, freezing his assets, etc.).

Then, in one of the best scenes you’ll see, Kingpin also blows up Matt’s brownstone – and then, Matt realizes, all of the terrible things that had been happening to him, they weren’t just bad luck, they were because of the Kingpin!

That realization, however awesome, is not enough to make Matt “born again,” as he still has to fall to the gutters before he can rise above it all. And that is what we see in the later issues, as we see not only Matt Murdock rise from the ashes, but Karen Page, as well. Ben Urich, too.

That’s the list! I’m sure there is a lot of agreement and disagreement with the list out there! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

And please vote for the lists that are still up for grabs here!


I didn’t vote because I thought I hadn’t read enough Daredevil (I only read the works of Miller, Nocenti, Kevin Smith, Bendis and Brubaker on the character). I can’t say I’m surprised by this top 10, except for the lack of Nocenti (perhaps because it wasn’t fully reprinted ?).

I believe that the current run of Waid/Rivera/Martin will be topping this list in the future! They are doing excellent work! Simply fantastic!

Nothing from Ann Nocenti’s & JJjr’s excellent and long run?

All pretty solid choices. Since I never got around to voting, i won’t complain too much that “Brother Take My Hand” didn’t make my the cut.

Damn – I forgot The Man Without Fear

No surprises, all pretty much as I expected. I hope future editions throw a curve ball or two.

I am a huge Frank Miller Daredevil fan and I enjoy the initial run more than I enjoy Born Again. It’s practically criminal that The Man Without Fear is on here instead of Love and War. The Man Without Fear sticks out like a sore thumb in Frank Miller Daredevil Companion Omnibus, not in a good way and not because of the art, I love JR Jr’s work. It’s just poorly written, in my opinion, and cheesy as balls.

I don’t know my Daredevil well enough to vote, but I’m a little surprised by the total lack of Nocenti. There was a general sense of community in her run, and it’s a theme that AFAIK hasn’t been touched on so much since.

I suppose if I had to pick some single issues, ‘Roulette’ would be very high up there, along with ‘Guts’ and ‘A Beer With The Devil’ from the Nocenti run. Gah, I should have voted when I had the chance!

Second that, Kirbydot. Nocenti’s DD run was outstanding, in large part because (unlike pretty much everyone on the list that came after) she didn’t intentionally try to ape Frank Miller. She brought a fresh approach that the character desperately needed. (It’s hardly a coincidence that Waid’s current run is getting so much praise for doing much the same thing). Miller’s run as writer/artist had some good moments, but overall it got to be pretty homogeneous and repetitive by the end.

Yeah same here I was surprised and not a little disappointed that Nocenti didn’t get a placing. She got my top four spots (possibly a little disingenuous as Born Again should have need in the mix. But I figured Born Again was a big boy and could look after itself).

For me it was (in order)

A Beer with the Devil 266
Introduction of Typhoid Mary Issues 253 – 260
American Dreamer 236
Daredevil in Hell 278 – 282

All absolutely superb. I would happily of had more in there too. Her last arc with DD and Bullseye swapping places only just missed out as did the Rotgut story

I like this list, but it’s ridiculous for Kevin Smith’s storyline to be in the top 10, especially at the expense of better runs like Nocenti’s. I think even many of the 1970s Daredevil runs are more deserving.

Didn’t get around to voting unfortunately.
Most of my picks would have been from Ann Nocenti’s run, and the early Colan stuff from #20-50.
Along with the Namor fight, Miller’s Born Again, Man Without Fear and the Elektra Lives Again GN.
Marvel NEEDS to reprint Nocenti’s run, it’s still my favorite and these results clearly show that it’s a lacking read for today’s readers.

Ed (A Different One)

November 2, 2011 at 9:22 am

I’m not a Daredevil completist by any means, by I echo the dismay of those who found Nocenti’s absence on this list inexplicable. The Miller stuff has got to be there, as well as most (but not all) of the Bendis nods. However, I can’t believe a place couldn’t be found for Nocenti – I can only conclude that not as many fans have read her run for some reason (perhaps the lack of complete reprints).

And I’m with Christy – I try not to judge a run this early in the making, but I can’t help but think that the Waid/Rivera/Martin run will end up on future lists as well. It’s a historic run in the making and, along with Uncanny X-Force and Journey into Mystery, among the best books Marvel is currently putting out.

I think the list is pretty accurate, although I wouldn’t have put the Brubaker issues quite that high, and I probably wouldn’t have put Man Without Fear on the list. I love the intial run of the first 15 issues or so in the 1960s,….I just read Daredevil #9 from 1965 last night and it was a fun read (although back then his banter during a fight was just like Spider-Man’s). Some of those issues added to the top 10 would have been fitting as well I think.

I missed this vote, but I’m with DanLarkin. “Brother take my hand” should have made it, I read it for the first time in “sons of origins” I had my copy signed by Colan in 96 and Lee in 09, a personal treasure.

randypan the goatboy

November 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

This really should have been the 9 greatest daredevil stories after born again. It is a classic and it is the definitive Daredevil story. It really is Marvels Dark Knight or watchmen with the level of praise it still commands almost 30 years after the book came out. In my opinion this book was the watershed moment in comics when they finally grew up and changed the game. I have to admit that I really havent read any Daredevil in a long time and this list will certainly help me find a group of good stories. My only complaint is I felt gaurdian devil should have been higher..but oh well. great list anyway

Totally agree with everything here.

Not to be a troll, but as a lifelong fan of DD, it’s pretty bad that there’s no mention of Ann Nocenti’s Typhoid story, Dennis O-Neil’s post-Miller run or Kessel and Nords’s awesome post-grey suit run, which is more relevant today than ever considering the tone of Waid’s current run.

You could have just included Bendis’ run as one single story, as that is exactly how it reads anyway, with the exception of that first arc with Ben Urich & Leapfrog’s kid.

Does anyone know if/when there will be a next edition of Essential Daredevil (#6)?

I agree with Tyler on both accounts – “Love and War” was fantastic and deserved to be here, and “The Man Without Fear” was the least compelling of Miller’s Daredevil stories (I’m really surprised at how high it ranked, apparently most voters disagree with me).

Kevin Smith’s DD run is over rated. It did put DD back on the map but that was also do to Quesada’s art at the time. Smith simply killed a supporting character, which was being done on a regular basis even back then. Nothing else came out of that story unlike most on the list. Reread the story and it plays out campy. The rest of the list is very good, especially with the number one choice. I do think Nocenti’s Typhoid Mary issues should be there as well.

man i coulda swore the Nocenti era where Matt was on the road hooking up with eternals and beating ultron with a stick would have made it somewhere.

I also agree with Christy up top. Waid’s run on DD will be looked upon as classic. Especially with the exceptional art team on the book currently. Best Marvel monthly out right now!

Not to be a troll, but as a lifelong fan of DD, it’s pretty bad that there’s no mention of Ann Nocenti’s Typhoid story, Dennis O-Neil’s post-Miller run or Kessel and Nords’s awesome post-grey suit run, which is more relevant today than ever considering the tone of Waid’s current run.

Why do you feel the need to apologetically preface your paragraph with “not to be a troll?” You’re just expressing your opinion and not being insulting or engaging in personal attacks.

I especially like your point about Kesel’s run. It really was ahead of its time. Kesel did an interview complaining that there was more to Daredevil’s history than just the Miller grim interpretation, and that he wanted to do a more rounded character. It was great, but in the 90s where grim and gritty still ruled the roost, it was very maligned. Kevin Smith, when doing press for his run, even mocked it and said it wasn’t “real” Daredevil and “true” Daredevil wasn’t lighthearted or swashbuckling, even though there were decades worth of stories before Miller that showed there was plenty of precedent for such an interpretation. Then Smith went on to basically do a giant uninspired Miller rehash.

After the Miller-style bleakness and darkness was beaten into the ground by Smith, Bendis, Brubaker and Diggle, Waid has come out with a take that is very similar to Kesel’s and has given press using the exact same rationale as Kesel’s and it’s widely praised. I guess either the timing is better because people are drained after the excessive gloom of the past 15 years, or Mark Waid’s big name status allows him to sell the premise better. But I’d love if the newfound popularity of a more fun Daredevil leads to Kesel’s run getting reprinted and getting the praise it deserves, even if retroactively.

You forgot “Lawyer Stops The Juggernaut” and “The Kid Who Collected Daredevil”. I thought those were pretty obvious.

No Nord or Nocenti stinks, but that’s what I get for not voting! Bendis, Brubaker, Miller, the usual picks. I think in a few years, Waid/Rivera/Martin will be here as well, this book hasn’t been this fun to read in decades.

I agree with Tyler on both accounts – “Love and War” was fantastic and deserved to be here, and “The Man Without Fear” was the least compelling of Miller’s Daredevil stories (I’m really surprised at how high it ranked, apparently most voters disagree with me).

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s such a huge seller that it probably gets on the list just from being one of the more widely read Daredevil stories out there. The sheer amount of voters who read it compared to other Daredevil stories pretty much guaranteed it would be in top 5, even though I agree there are many stories better.

One pet peeve of the book for me was that I didn’t like that stage of JR Jr’s evolution, where he got a bit too blocky. And I hated how he drew young Matt Murdock. He just looks like a miniature version of adult Matt Murdock, same hair, face, body proportions. He doesn’t draw a convincing child.

That’s a veeeeery opinabile list….the origin story drawn by Everett (assisted by Ditko). The whole Lee-Colan Mike Murdock saga. The first two-part story drawn by Romita sr, with Ka-zar and his evil brother- the never too praised ‘Brother take my hand’ Lee (I suspect Thomas, really). ‘While the city sleeps’, again with Wood. They all beat by far every Bendis story and every photocopy ‘drawn’ by Maaley- and Bendis is genius when we comes to Brubaker. But fact is, you simply CAN’T include a Colan story. Apart from Miller, he’s THE Daredevil artist. And for JRJR, every Nocenti story he draw is better than Man without fear, written by a Miller tryin’ to semplificate all he’d written before in order to sell a screenplay to Hollywoood.

Man without fear, written by a Miller tryin’ to semplificate all he’d written before in order to sell a screenplay to Hollywoood.

I never really thought about it, but looking back, it really is an attempt at selling a screenplay treatment isn’t it? Kind of like everything Mark Millar writes nowadays.

The Nocenti run was huge for me as a kid, and I’m a bit sad it didn’t make it into the list in any way, shape, or form. The whole “Number Nine Saga” that culminated with DD facing Mephisto was fantastic.

With that said, there’s not much I would cut from the list. I wasn’t a fan of the Miller/JRjr story, but I can understand its importance in terms of the exposure it got. I understand the Kevin Smith story for historical importance, and I was a fan of the Bendis and beginning Brubaker, too. If I were doing this list on my own, I would have cut out one of the Bendis stories to make room.

Bottom line: Daredevil’s had more than his share of awesome stories.

This really should have been the 9 greatest daredevil stories after born again. It is a classic and it is the definitive Daredevil story.

Er, no. I mean, I knew Born Again would take the number one spot here, but it didn’t even make my top ten list. It’s not as though I don’t enjoy the story, I do, very much, like it — it’s just that, for me, it is more a ‘Matt Murdock’ story than it is a ‘Daredevil’ story. I know that many people would take those to be the same thing, but to me there is a distinction.

FWIW, here was my top ten, as submitted to Brian:

1. Daredevil #163 “Blind Alley”

2. Daredevil #7 “In Mortal Combat With Sub-Mariner”

3. Daredevil #126-127 ‘Daredevil vs. Torpedo’

4. Daredevil #208 “The Deadliest Night of My Life!”

5. Daredevil #220 “Fog”

6. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110 “Death of Jean DeWolff”

7. Daredevil #168-182 (I know this is more than twelve issues, but Gang War and Elektra Saga intertwine too much for me to separate them. I’d even go so far as to adding #160-161 to the arc. If you are going to separate these, I suppose my vote would go to the Elektra Saga over Gang War).

8. Fantastic Four #39-40 “A Blind Man Shall Lead Them/Battle of the Baxter Building”

9. Daredevil #238 “It Comes With Claws (Mutant Massacre tie-in)” (I know, I know, but I still love it)

10. Daredevil #297-300 “Last Rites, aka ‘Fall of the Kingpin'” (Really, just #300, but I suppose most others would vote for the whole arc).

Er, no. I mean, I knew Born Again would take the number one spot here, but it didn’t even make my top ten list. It’s not as though I don’t enjoy the story, I do, very much, like it — it’s just that, for me, it is more a ‘Matt Murdock’ story than it is a ‘Daredevil’ story. I know that many people would take those to be the same thing, but to me there is a distinction.

I agree. It’s a good story with great moments, and it could have been the best of all time, but what disqualifies it for me is that it doesn’t finish the job. If you are going to write a work-for-hire story with an ongoing character that you must hand off to someone else at the end, the standards to me at least are different. You’re responsible for leaving the character in a workable sustainable status quo. So when a work-for-hire stint on an ongoing title deconstructs and tears a character down, it needs to put the toys back together just as well or it’s only half-done in my eyes.

If Born Again was a total standalone finite story I’d love it more, but for the reasons I cited above I find it lacking. I also think the crappy status quo it left behind created an unfair disadvantage for whoever would end up following Miller, because they would get the blame for how bad the new status quo was, even though we have no proof that Miller himself could have even made the new status quo work. He gets all the glory of the deconstruction and passes off the harder task of making the fallout from his new deconstructed work onto a new writer who unfairly shoulders the blame. I think this is a major reason why Nocenti ends up underrated, when in reality the fact she was able to craft anything as good as she did given what she was given to work with actually speaks volumes about her talent.

Issue 191 is what hooked me on to Daredevil. Been reading ever since.

Dang, I can’t believe I forgot to vote for Daredevil: The Man Without Fear #1-5. I’m glad that came in third.

I tried to vote for some off beat choices, including some Nocenti work:

DD (1964) #168 – 182

Born Again
DD (1964) #227 – 233

“How Does a Man Search for His Own Soul?”
DD (1964) #191

“Temptation!” / “Blindspots”
DD (1964) #255 – 256

DD (1998) #26 – 31

Death of Jean DeWolff
PPTSS #107-110

“The Bully” / “The Creep”
DD (1964) #257 / Punisher (1987) #10

“Man w/o Fear”
DD (2011) #1

“…And He Cries Father”
DD (1964) #164

“Ring of Death”
DD (1964) #156

I think this is a major reason why Nocenti ends up underrated, when in reality the fact she was able to craft anything as good as she did given what she was given to work with actually speaks volumes about her talent.

In all fairness, T., some of the new status quo seemed to fit in with Nocenti’s agenda from I recall (I haven’t read the run since it first came out, so forgive me if my recollection is flawed). Matt Murdock as a broke disgraced lawyer fighting for the little guy and running a legal clinic championing left-wing causes seems to me to be very much in line with what Nocenti wanted to write about, and I’m not sure how much of a hinderance, if any, it really was to her. If anything, it opened up Daredevil and let her take him on the road with the Inhumans and fight Blackheart (which, I must admit, is the least favorite part of her run for me).

But, as I said, I haven’t read the run in 20 years or however long its been since she wrote it, so maybe I’m completely off base here.

T., I never thought of it that way about Nocenti’s run, but I think you are absolutely right. I don’t dislike Nocenti’s run, but I’m not a huge fan either. In hindsight though, Nocenti did everything between Born Again and Last Rites that led to Last Rites being a sort of “culmination” moment in Daredevil. Of course, by that time Chichester was writing the title, but I suppose his story would not have been at all the same without his predecessor.

Kesel & Nord’s run *was* awesome.

Kevin Smith’s run is truly terrible, I can’t believe people still buy into the hype that it was good comics.

Also, glad to see Brubaker/Lark on here, but any other story would have been a better choice.

As someone who didn’t like Bendis’s uber-decompressed run I’m a little disappointed that much of it displaced other stuff I voted for, particularly “Gangwar”, “Child’s Play” “Love and War” and a string of issues from the O’Neil run: #215. 218, and 220 (that last one being “Fog”, which someone mentioned above). I also threw in #203 featuring “Trump” just for the cool subplot with DD representing one of his childhood bullies, written by Steven Grant, I believe.

Out of the Bendis runs I most enjoyed “Underboss”, but looking at it it’s not the best “Daredevil” story, as he does nothing of consequence (Silke’s rise and downfall pretty much all happen without DD even sure what’s going on).

Then again, I voted for Daredevil #181 which technically doesn’t have a lot of Daredevil in it either (one trial summation plus one last line of dialogue is all we hear from him), but what the heck, it’s still one of the greatest issues of any comic book ever.

And Born Again was my number one pick because it is the greatest Daredevil story ever told.

Nocenti was awesome. She is really the only post-Miller writer that tried to do her own thing. I find that DD writers can be divided in Frank Miller writers (Smith, Brubacker, Bendis, Chichester) or Stan Lee writers (Kesel, Waid). Nocent was the only one that was neither.

Kalorama: when you say that Miller’s run was homogenous by the end, I have to really disagree. Miller brought a lot of humor to the series that is mostly forgotten today; heck, “Guts” is one of my favorite issues of all time.

It’s a good list overall, though I agree that I miss Nocenti on there, and I agree that the dearth of reprints probably has something to do with it. FWIW, one of her stories was definitely on my list, but so were a lot of these.

Miller brought a lot of humor to the series that is mostly forgotten today

Absolutely. The window at Josie’s constantly getting smashed, all of the Turk & Grotto scenes, and especially #176 with everyone busting in on Wall-Eyed Pike – this is why his first run is so awesome. Granted, all this was earlier on in his first run, and it ebbed away as his run went on, but he still established it, and it gave the title an element that Roger McKenzie’s run lacked a bit.

Am I the only person that didn’t vote for the Elektra Saga as a whole and picked out the individual parts instead (I thought that was specified in the rules)? I voted for 174-176 as one story, the Resurrection Saga from 187-190 as one story, and I voted for 181 as a single issue, which was my #1.

Were my votes from all of those things funneled into the Elektra Saga, or just my first place vote for DD 181?

I’m also a little bit curious where the following stories ranked: Death of Jean DeWolff, Fall From Grace, and Gang War (DD 170-172).

I put the Elektra saga ahead of Born Again, because as much as I loved the latter story I wasn’t particularly interested in the Nuke subplot.

I also put “Roulette” ahead of Elektra, because it’s my favorite single issue in Miller’s run.

You’re not alone, Third Man. I counted the Resurrection Saga separately.


November 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Hardcore was horrible. The worst Typhoid Mary appearance ever! And she was sitting in a pretty interesting limbo since the Typhoid mini. Then the great Kingpin/DD rivalry is settled because Matt decided to kick his ass. Way to save that card DD!

dhole: I enjoyed Bendis’s run. I don’t think any bendis stories made my list of the Greatest Daredevil Stories Ever Told, but his Daredevil run would rank high on my Greatest Bendis Stories Ever Told list (which would include no Avengers but a lot of Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias and Powers). Not outstanding for Daredevil but really outstanding for Bendis.

Also, Mike Murdock was robbed.

figured born again would make the list. and cool to see the dare devil stint that got joe the eic job on here.


Pointing out that there was humor in Miller’s DD doesn’t, in any way, dispute my observation that it was homogeneous or repetitive, because neither of those qualities actually precludes there being humor. Ookerdookers observation about “the window at Josie’s constantly getting smashed, all of the Turk & Grotto scenes” points directly to what I was talking about, however.

Miller’s writing didn’t have any real undercurrent of humor that ran throughout. Instead, he used a couple of stock, canned gags (like DD throwing thugs through Josie’s window, or busting in to harass Turk for intel) repeated over and over and over again with slight variations to break up the monotony of DD’s inevitable date with yet another fight with Bullseye or Elektra or the Hand. It was the comic book equivalent of a TV sitcom characters catchphrase, like Bart saying “don’t have a cow, man” or everyone in the bar yelling “Norm!” on Cheers. It may have been funny the first few times, but by the time season 10 of the show rolled around, they just became tired, by rote tropes.

I remember Smith and Quesada’s issues had constant delays but nobody cared. People were mad about the ending because it showed the ‘new’ origin of Spider-man and a certain villian showed up immediatly after in the pages of Spider-man. Ofcourse, Quesada would never allow anyone to change Spider-man’s origin….

I loved Man Without Fear by Miller and Romita’s Junior. I saw some old video last night of both Romita’s talking about character’s origin. John Romita Junior said Typhoid Mary was (visually) based on a suit his wife was wearing. Plus, Romita Senior said that Gwen Stacy was the good girl and Mary Jane was the tramp, which Stan Lee took exception too. It was the Comic Book Greats video I saw on Youtube. Great stuff.

They also said Gwen Stacy was intended to be Peter’s eventual wife. Neat.

Wait–where’s Ann Nocenti’s run?

Okay list, but the absence of Last Rites is a criminal. I would also say that Nocenti’s Typhoid Mary plot trumps many of these, but I can understand why it doesn’t show up (never been collected, arguably an ongoing sideplot rather than a grand story, no real resolution).

I’m of the same mind as buttler on the Bendis stuff. Those comics definitely warrant a spot on a list of Top Bendis stories, but they don’t even come close to the best of DD. I found them entertaining enough, and I think the novelty of the Bendis style won a lot of people over at the time, but the stories don’t really hold up to scrutiny. They suffer from what we now recognize as common Bendis-isms: cloying, samey-sounding, dialogue, inability to tell a story in a single issue, and evident ignorance of continuity and character history. The last one might be considered a point in Bendis’s favor, but it’s hard to see it that way when you have “Hardcore” sitting in a longbox inches away from “Last Rites,” which tells the same story with ten times the skill.

On a more positive note, Miller was in top-form when he worked on Daredevil; the two made each other great. Interestingly, the first Miller DD I read was a reprint of Roulette in I believe Daredevil #500. Immediately I loved the story and made a note to pick up the first Marvel Visionaries trade. I eventually read Roulette again, as the LAST story of Miller’s run, and I probably enjoyed it three or four times as much on the second go-around. It really perfectly crystalizes everything Miller was doing with the character and the idea of a superhero up to that point. The issue strikes an ideal balance between comic book melodrama and serious interrogation of themes, and just on the level of craft, is expertly told as a graphic story. Matt is conflicted and despairing and angry, but (and this is a point that many later writers would miss) ultimately triumphs. Miller could never have returned to the character or his supporting cast, and his first run would remain immortally remembered for great stories like Roulette.

P.S.: People who voted for Miller’s first run should give a look to Jason Aaron’s Punisher MAX. Aaron is taking the old Miller DD plots in some very crazy, but very entertaining, directions with the Punisher.

I didn’t feel I’d read enough DD to feel qualified to vote, but who knows: perhaps I’ve read more than a significant number of people who DID vote. (I’ve read no more than an accidental issue or two published since Kevin Smith’s first issue)

Nevertheless I’d like to echo respect for some of the missing already mentioned, especially work by Colan, O’Neill, Nocenti, Chichester and Kesel. (Kesel’s DD reminded me of Simonson’s FF for some reason, both of them brilliant and too short) Also wasn’t The Deadliest Night of My Life written by Harlan Ellison? I never got my hands on all of Nocenti’s run, but the arc where Matt thinks he’s his own dad was excellent. And I’ll shout out for Mike Murdoch and Brother Take My Hand too.

It’s great that V1. #7 is here, but youngsters should be aware that there’s plenty of good reading in all the DD Essentials.

I didn’t care for Nocenti’s run, though I did keep reading. But, c’mon. Daredevil beats Ultron with a pointed stick? Puh-lease.

Born Again is in my top ten from all fifty years of the comic book stories I’ve ever read.

“And I – I have shown him… that a man without hope is a man without fear.”

It gave me chills when I read it. It gives me chills right now.

I’ll admit to a wee bit of sheer cussedness, but DD beating Ultron to death with a stick was at the very top of my list. I loved everything about that.

While I wouldn’t pick any stories from them as the best, necessarily, the first 2 Essential volumes are absolutely beautiful to look at.

I’m probably the only person to like 264, “Baby Boom”, a fill in issue (during Inferno?) with art by Ditko.

Kesel’s run is underrated, but while the run was good, I’m not sure there’s anything specifically to point to as “greatest story”. Great run is a separate category, right?

And I mentioned on the voting page, the Daredevil/Deadpool ’97 Annual is a pretty good story.

“Roulette” and “Born Again” would have definitely made it onto my list, but I simply haven’t read enough Daredevil to pick 10 great stories. Although, given Waid/Rivera/Martin’s current run, that may soon change. Hell, their first issue had three of the best Daredevil stories that I’ve ever read. Good call, Christy! Glad to see that they brought it around so quickly after “Shadowland” and “Black Panther: Man Without Fear”. T’Challa deserves his own series, but this wasn’t it.

I’m glad to read someone else found that Hardcore ending ridiculous. One of the many cool things about the Kingpin/Daredevil rivalry was that DD couldn’t take Kingpin in a one-on-one fight (not in the Miller issues, anyway, I guess he sort of does in #300). In any case, having DD mop the floor with him was pretty much the last straw for me and the Bendis run.

And yet still much more sensible than Bendis’s “Illuminati” retcon that the Beyonder was an Inhuman.


My top 3 came out as the overall top 3. I had also submitted Nocenti/Jrjr’s work and a run from Chichester/Weeks

jeffrey linklater

November 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm

“Okay list, but the absence of Last Rites is a criminal. I would also say that Nocenti’s Typhoid Mary plot trumps many of these”

I agree with Cass here. Also, the Harlan Ellison penned two-parter was also very good.

Feel free to disagree but I feel like this list is spot on to a huge portion of Daredevil’s overall readership. DD fans seem to come from two camps: Those who joined on AFTER Kevin Smith and those from before. That’s not to give him too much credit, but he is sort of like that ‘gateway’ writer. Those fans love Smith, Bendis, Bru… And Miller because his name gets thrown about so much by the current generation of writers.

Nocenti has a much larger selection of great stories… but seems to be mostly ignored by this segment of the fan base, for no other reason than lack of promotion.

Now, Nocenti fans are plentiful. I bet if this were a Top 20 or Top 30 she would be the majority of the rest of the list after the 10 spot. Since she wrote in an age of non-compression, she has a lot more one off issues or 2 issue arcs that might not have registered as quickly in the minds of those voting- resulting in her fan base voting for MUCH of her work, but being spread to thin to make a dent in the stories that have been trumpeted in recent years.

I’d put money on it. If this were a top 20, she would have been 20-11 almost exclusively, save a Miller story or two.

My two cents… I mean, notice how many of you hear are mentioning the name, but I bet you all have a different selection of stuff you think in her run should have been voted for.

jeffrey linklater

November 3, 2011 at 12:44 am

Also, no love for Daredevil: Yellow? It didn’t make into my top 10, but I thought it was pretty good.

I definitely have to agree with T concerning “Born Again” and the very difficult task Ann Nocenti must have had following it up.

I can’t believe Kevin Smith’s run even made the list out of all the amazing Daredevil stories/runs. I too was a big Nocenti fan and its criminal her entire run was left out. Kevin Miller is a hack. For someone who has literally done little of value since Clerks and constantly pushes his christian agenda, come on. I simply can’t understand how this guy is allowed to even write comics anymore. All of his crap is the same. He had one good idea 10 years ago and has been rehashing it with his “modern trashy dialogue” more and more with everything he writes. I wish he would just manage his comic shop and stop trying to be something he’s not, a writer. I simply can’t believe that so many people voted for that contrived story line. Look at the majority of even Bendis’s and Bruebaker’s and you can find a multitude of stories that the Smith crap can’t even stand up to. Not to mention Miller, but he’s already received more than enough kudos for what he delivered, and he’s pretty much a hack now too.

Ann Nocetti’s fine and all, but no Gene Colan? That REALLY hurts.

randypan the goatboy

November 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Uhh who is kevin miller? I know what you mean though. I cant help myself, I liked the story. I think there has never been a time when mysterio was a good villain and in this story he was. The very real possibility the Karen page had aids was a natural conclusion to the time she spent as a junkie and doing porn flicks for smack. maybe its the surreal religious tone of that particular book that throws people off? Maybe daredevil is far more vigilante than superhero and that book was superhero type stuff. As far as born again goes…I stand behind my statement about definitive Daredevil. I read a few posts up that someone said it was more of a matt murdoch story, and that much is true. But seeing as how Murdoch IIIIISSSS Daredevil…not to put to fine a point on this, but reading how far the kingpin drug matt murdock down and the painfull steps he had to take to rebuild his life is quit simply perfection in a comic story. This is the type of book people desperatly want frank miller to write again. Your opinions to the contrary have been food for thought though and I am going to read some other titles on the list…

With BORN AGAIN, ORIGINAL MILLER, and MAN WITHOUT FEAR the top 3, and the rest mostly Bendis and Brubaker, this is a very very solid ranking!!!

1. Born again
2. DD #181 – Bullseye kills Elektra, DD vs Bullseye
3. Daredevil #191 – DD plays Russian roulette with paralyzed Bullseye
4. Love & war Graphic Novel (Sienkiwicz art RULES)
5. DD 163 vs The Hulk
6. What If #35, Elektra Had Lived
7. Daredevil #169 – Bullseye thinks everyone is Daredevil
8. Man Without Fear (mini-series)
9. Elektra Lives Again
10. DD #360, vs Absorbing Man (Karl Kesel had a good short run, with a few excellent stories, but this one sticks out the most) The whole Kesel/Nord was great really (#353-363)

Born Again, what else could be tops?

I missed this poll unfortunately. One DD story that I highly recommend is Miller’s story Badlands in Daredevil 219-his first return to the title after leaving with 191. Matt is never in costume-he is the Stranger. The story has a modern day Western feel.

As much as I love Miller’s initial run (DD 158-191), after that epoch I feel that he hates Matt being in costume.

Issue #219, the Born Again Saga, Elektra Lives Again, and the Man Without Fear mini feel to me as if Miller is embarrassed of the fact.

“Guardian Devil” is much too high, but that doesn’t surprise me. I think of it as Daredevil’s “Hush.” Populist artwork that brought a lot of new, and lapsed readers back to a beloved character, and has since been overrated because of it. David Mack’s underrated “Parts of a Hole” would’ve been a much better representation of Quesada’s run. I was glad to see “The Devil in Cell-Block D” [a much better title than “The Devil Inside and Out Vol. 1″ (what the hell is with Marvel retitling trades?)] as the only representative of Brubaker’s overrated run. It’s the only story that really deserved it. To me, the biggest omission was Elektra Lives Again. I could easily make the case that Miller and Lynn Varley’s art literally never looked better, and it’s a great story too. I can only chalk it up to the fact that it’s probably the most obscure of Frank’s DD work?

I did not get around to voting, but I definitely agree with “Born Again” being number one. For me, this not only changed comics, but it influenced my writing, as well.

Up until reading that storyline, I strictly wrote horror. Influenced by Stephen King and a few others, I wanted to explore horror and that is what I chose to write. I read Miller’s storyline not because it was Miller, though I did like him, but because I was a huge Daredevil fan and had been since the ’70s. When I finished it I realized Miller had essentially written a horror story. It is really horrific. Bad things happen in it that change people’s lives. It was at that point that I started branching out in other genres of fiction. Miller and “Born Again” were perhaps the biggest influence I ever experienced, and it sticks with me to this day. Now, I’m primarily known for horror when it comes to fiction, but it’s not all I do, and I thank this storyline for that.

So many of my favorites left off: “Fog” by O’Neil and Mazzuchelli, “A Beer With the Devil” by Nocenti and Romita Jr., the Ultron/”Acts of Vengeance” arc by Nocenti and Romita Jr., “Last Rites” by Chichester and Weeks, and the last Death-Stalker arc by MacKenzie and Miller (Death-Stalker, one of my favorite DD villains that no one remembers).

Born Again was my real introduction to daredevil as a kid. since then i have been a passive fan, but interested enough to pick up frank miller’s omnibus, the six DD HC’s beginning with Kevin Smith’s short run, and the two Brubaker omnibii.(?) Born again was great, it gave me enough passion to love Daredevil. From what I’ve read, Kevin Smith’s effort was lacking. It seemed like it was trying too hard to be a “grown up” comic, as if it were too aware that it was supposed to subvert your expectations of what a comic could be. I don’t know why it came off that way, but that’s the impression I was left with. I think Mark Waid’s current run is an excellent departure from the dark undertones laid down in previous arcs

Too many Bendis, not enough Innocenti. People have a short memory.

Miller and Bendis are the true Daredevil scribes, bar virtually none!

No Daredevil: Redemption?!!!! I really enjoyed Bendis (although I thought Brubaker was better), but this was the first time I felt any emotion, other than suspense, from a comic book. And the dialogue was awesome; you could tell David Hine did his research. I literally almost cried when the kid said, “Matt please.”

Nothing with Ann Nocenti and nothing with the work of one of DD’s definitive artists – Gentleman Gene Colan. Poor.

Ah, Frank Miller. He really took this character to a new level and everything that follows owes a great debt to him. His Daredevil was visceral, physical, a raging bull of a vigilante. Way ahead of its time.

The Bendis/Maleev run blew me away. Utterly. A run of sustained excellence and a fitting tribute and extension of the Miller template. A tough act to follow, hence my disappointment at the plodding, backwards-looking Brubaker/Lark run. I really don’t see why this work is so lauded.

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To my mind the Nocenti/JRjr stuff is the very best, even better than Miller’s brilliant stuff. The Typhoid Mary story, the one with the demon dentist, Beer with the Devil, the amazing #268, the Ultron story should all have been serious contenders.

btw, regarding the unlikely event of Ultron being beaten by DD it should be pointed out that Ultron really defeats himself in this one. Ultron has never been crazier and its the best portrayal of him ever, and I say this as someone for whom the Avengers was ‘my’ book growing up and he was my favourite villain.

Regarding Bendis. There’s some great stories and ideas in his run but I’d have to place him on a lower plateau than Miller or Nocenti because whilst he may ape colloquial dialogue effectively he provides no real insight into the character. I get no sense of depth with the characters in his run just the deconstructive approach to superheroics and lots of advertising itself as more ‘real’. I like the run plenty but it’s not on the level of Nocenti or Miller.

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