Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
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.
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.
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!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.