Lists, Miscellanea, Reviews

Why I Love Daredevil

I’ll warn you in advance, today’s post has little point, It’s strictly for my own enjoyment and your edification. You can thank me later. As it happens, I’m neither a comic book fanatic, nor particularly knowledgeable about them. I rarely enter a debate about which superhero would win in any given situation – mostly because I don’t like to lose – and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever find me engaged in cosplay. When I do read graphic novels/comics, my preference tends to be for dark and gritty worlds filled with ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This means – more or less – that Locke & Key is the perfection to which everything else is compared and superheroes need not apply. My stance on avoiding superheroes stems from several issues in the superhero universe. Primarily, if a series is long running, there are so many twists and changes – especially to a character’s backstory – that it’s impossible to keep up.  Before you know it Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus and Mary Jane Watson died from repeated exposure to radioactive sperm. So I don’t even try. Except – and there’s always an exception, isn’t there? – when it comes to Daredevil. My devotion to the man without fear began a long time ago – probably around the time I realized Batman is an asshole, Green Arrow is womanizing cad, Superman is absolutely implausible, Captain America was manufactured, and Spider-Man…well, seriously?

DD

In casual conversation, Daredevil’s often listed as one of the worst superheroes out there. I blame this on the film version released in 2003, which I can honestly tell you is not that bad. And why people choose to single out Daredevil over The Green Lantern, Cat Woman, or The Fantastic Four (and its sequel) is beyond me. My point being that while Daredevil is not for everyone, don’t judge it on one bad film adaptation. Everyone still loves Batman, after all. And that’s okay. If you choose to believe in the superiority of Batman, I won’t judge.

(Out loud.)

I will, however, take this opportunity to give you ten reasons why Daredevil is the greatest superhero (and comic book series) of all time. In no particular order:

10. Matt Murdock is more important than Daredevil. Justice is blind. What he does to protect the community he lives in and for those seeking justice in the courtroom outweigh his vigilante antics as Daredevil. This is one of the more compelling parts of the character. After all, who matters more: Tony Stark or Iron Man? Peter Parker or Spider-Man? Steve Rogers or Captain America?

09. Comic Book Illustrator/Artist Alex Maleev. Given the work Maleev’s done with Marvel for Stephen King’s N. adaptation, it’s probably not surprising that I’m huge fan. He’s also contributed to the Dark Tower series. Although I liked Miller’s work (particularly Born Again), the Bendis/Maleev run is what solidified my devotion.

maleev_daredevil

08. Ninjas. Everyone loves ninjas.

07. He’s not wealthy and he has a day job. Although I covered the nature of his work in #10, the fact that he has to have a full time job is rather unusual. Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, Iron Fist, and Angel are billionaires. Spider-Man masquerades as a part-time newspaper photographer. Bruce Banner and Reed Richards are genius scientists. Magneto stole his money. Murdock worked hard to get through school, just as he works hard to be good at his job. Side note: it drives me crazy to hear him referred to as Batman without money.

06. His strength is also his weakness. The heightened senses that make him unique also make him vulnerable. He has spent years training in various martial arts and it’s easy to marvel at his success coping with his added abilities,

05. He can be defeated. Continuing from the previous point, Daredevil is – relatively speaking – easily defeatable. One well-timed loud noise and Daredevil goes down. But he always gets back up – even from a mental breakdown. Defeating evil supervillians isn’t what’s important to him, defending the residents of Hell’s Kitchen is.

04. Foggy Nelson. The comic book series, more often than not, is dark, gritty, and noirish. Foggy keeps it from getting too dark.

03. Excellent taste in women. Murdock/Daredevil prefers independent, intelligent, and strong women regardless of whether or not they are superheroes. In fact, the love of his life is absolutely ordinary. However, you’d never want to actually be one of them, it never turns out well (drug addict, insanity, death, etc.).

matts-hair-maleev

02. Writing. Daredevil has a rich history of talented comic book writers and illustrators, including Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Gerry Conway, Brian Michael Bendis, and Ed Brubaker. Even Bob Gale (the screenwriter behind Back to the Future) had a short run. So it’s not surprising that the series has some of the most consistent writing out there.

01. His humanity. Matt Murdock/Daredevil is one of the most psychologically interesting superheroes ever created. He struggles with the dichotomy of his life. During the day, he is a lawyer fighting for those who need it, not necessarily those who can pay for it. He also represents people who are innocent of the crime, but are nowhere near innocent in any other aspect of life (I suggest checking out Redemption, specifically). While at night, he is a vigilante with a blatant disregard for the justice system. He struggles to reconcile the two. The series does an excellent job of balancing the banality of his day to day work and the extreme antics of his night life.

Bonus: I really like his costume.

I rarely venture into the world of comic books and superheroes, but today is an exception. My top ten reasons to love Daredevil were written in honor of graphic novels/comics month (#comicsfebruary if you’re on Twitter/Instagram – hosted by Trish and company). The month is looking up already.

So did anyone stick it out to the end of the list? If you did, I applaud you. Will you be joining Graphic Novels Month? If you could only recommend one graphic novel, what would it be?

Image; Alex Maleev found herehere, and here.

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  • http://btweenthecovers.com/ Heather

    I used to be really into the superhero comics when I was a kid (and teenager), but I’m not really into them at all anymore. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Daredevil comic, though. Or I don’t remember if I did. Hmmm…

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Daredevil is the only one I ever got into on any significant level, but my mind functions a bit like a sponge and absorbs everything. So my general superhero knowledge is (at times) surprisingly thorough.

      As a kid, a lot of my time was spent thinking of how to become the next MacGuyver, so superheroes are practically a natural extension of that.

  • http://consumedbyink.wordpress.com Naomi

    My son is really into the superheroes and comic books right now – I will have to impress him with my new found knowledge of Daredevil!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I knew the post could be educational in the right context!

  • http://sarahsaysread.com Sarah Says Read

    SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS POST. I really love superhero movies, and I WANT to get into the Marvel world, but like you said – it’s SO expansive. You could never start from the beginning now and start to understand everything.

    That being said, I DO think I’m going to start reading the Deadpool comics. He’s a bad guy, but the fun, crazy, asshole-type that I like to read about and I want to know his story. Aaaand if that goes well, I might try to get into the Iron Man comics, because I think he’s my favorite superhero. I love the snark.

    Oh and I should probably Wikipedia Daredavil, or watch the movie, because I literally knew none of this. So good job! :-)

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I’m pretty equal opportunity between Marvel and DC. I don’t like a lot of what Marvel is doing right now, so I’m not following as closely as I once did. I like a lot of Superhero movies, but I truly did hate the Toby McGuire Spider-Man trilogy. Maybe I really am just anti-Spider-Man. I can think of now power more disgusting than shooting webs from your wrist.

      I’ve always liked John Constantine for very similar reasons.

      Thanks, that was seriously my goal. If you do watch the movie, watch the Director’s Cut. It’s improves it, slightly.

  • http://www.acidfreepulp.com Acid Free Pulp

    I definitely am a novice when it comes to comic books but I really love the images you’ve chosen for this post. The artwork is stellar and when I got to your bullet about the noir feel, my inner reader was jumping up and down saying, “I agree!”

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I’ll read almost anything Maleev has illustrated. I love his artwork too, but can afford none of it, of course. As far as comics go, I’ve always felt that Daredevil has a lot more maturity to it. This occasionally leads to people proclaiming Daredevil’s boring. He’s not.

  • http://rosemaryandreadingglasses.wordpress.com Carolyn O

    Ok, I’m sold. I don’t really read comic books (although I did read Vol. 1 of Saga and I’ll definitely read the rest), but I’ll steer H in Daredevil’s direction when he’s old enough.

    Of the handful of graphic novels I’ve read, Persepolis is hands down the one I recommend to people.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Yes. My job is done. I’m looking forward to those years (many years from now…).

      I like Persepolis too. I always like to try and steer people towards Ghost World as well.

      • http://rosemaryandreadingglasses.wordpress.com Carolyn O

        You know, I just bought Ghost World a few months ago, but I haven’t read it yet. I should get on that.

  • http://www.rivercityreading.com Shannon @ River City Reading

    Part of why I’m really excited about #comicsfebruary is that it’s giving me a reason to pick up a few more comic-y books than I would have otherwise chosen (including Saga Vol. 1 and 2). I’ve never entered the Daredevil realm, but I might have to check it out!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      If you do, go for Redemption. It has a great southern noir feel to it and it can be read as a standalone.

      I am planning to use the month to try and finish up Locke and Key, so I’m really, really excited.

  • http://www.livingawritinglife.blogspot.com Jennine G.

    I’ve never been a huge superhero or comic fan, so I do end up judging by the movies, which I’ve only started watching and liking lately. However, it’s all very superficial on my part…when I say I like Batman, it means Christian Bale is very easy on the eyes!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Christian Bale had an incredible ability to change his looks. He did look good in Batman (mostly, though his voice drove me up the wall), but he looked so, so bad in American Hustle.

      • http://www.livingawritinglife.blogspot.com Jennine G.

        You’re right. He looked horrible in The Fighter too.

  • http://wordsforworms.wordpress.com Words for Worms

    You had me at ninjas.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      And there are lots and lots of ninjas (plus Elektra is pretty badass, for a little while at least).

  • http://www.caffeinatedlife.net/blog Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net

    Awesome post! I’ve been meaning to check out the Daredevil comic (the recent one with Mark Waid as the writer) but I haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. I enjoyed reading your points on why you like the character–and I agree, the 2003 wasn’t that bad (as I recall, I rather enjoyed the movie, lol :)). Will need to bump his comics up my list now :)

    Oh, that’s hard, choosing only one graphic novel to recommend…it’d be a toss up between Thor (with Jason Aaron as the writer; epic + 3 (!!!) Thors + gorgeous artwork from Esad Ribic) Hawkeye (Matt Fraction as the writer: running gags & humour + Hawkeye’s daily life when he’s not with the Avengers (complete with his personal screw-ups) + the sort of retro/minimalist artwork) :) Yeah, I’m a bit of a Marvel girl, lol, my brother makes up for me by passing along the DC titles that he reads 😉

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I’ve liked Waid, but I strongly preferred Bendis’ run (though Waid presents a lighter version of Daredevil). I definitely think you should.

      I’ll have to look in to Thor. And I enjoy a lot of what Matt Fraction does, especially his tumblr. I love that last link you posted – hilarious.

      • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

        And I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought it wasn’t THAT BAD!

      • http://www.caffeinatedlife.net/blog Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net

        Bendis! I’ve only read Avengers Disassembled by him but I heard his writing’s great; will definitely check out his Daredevil titles 😀 Thanks!

  • http://baystatera.com Laurie C

    I didn’t know it was Graphic Novel Month! I just listened to the perfect audiobook for this month, then — Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. It took the world of comic book artists and writers in the 30s, 40s, and 50s and brought the whole period in history to life. Amazing!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Agreed, that is an amazing novel.

  • http://froodianpseudoanalysis.wordpress.com DrFrood

    I started reading the occasional graphic novel a few years ago out of a vague interest – I’d just heard Time had included Watchmen in its list of 100 best novels since 1923, and for some reason it kept making me think of this comic I’d started reading when I was about 7 that a friend of my Dad’s had. Eventually I found it (Dark Knight Returns – on reflection possibly not appropriate for a 7 year old but my parents thought Batman was fine for kids…)

    Anyhoo, that’s a longish run up to say that I too am not much of a comic book reader (although I did like some of Grant Morrison’s run on X Men, which I was lent by a friend of my brother’s when he found out I loved the 90s cartoon series).

    So fast forward a few years and I seem to have a collection of Batman comics, a couple of X Men, Watchmen (curiosity again…) and…Superman Red Son.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate Superman – they made him invulnerable and a frick’ eagle scout to boot. But that one is actually worthwhile (it’s the one where he lands in the Ukraine rather than Kansas).

    You give that a go, recommend me a Daredevil, and we’ll take it from there.

    PS: one of the things I like about Batman is that he’s clearly a complete tool.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I read quite a few books that I did not enjoy because of that Time list. I should’ve stopped after I hated the first one, but no, I always think it will get better. It didn’t.

      I read Dark Knight Returns when I was younger solely because Stephen King recommended it. Daredevil: Born Again is better, which is what I’m recommending for you (although overall Bendis/Maleev are my favorite). I requested Red Son, there’s a surprisingly long waiting list at my local library. That’s a good sign.

      • http://froodianpseudoanalysis.wordpress.com DrFrood

        Daredevil Born Again it is.

        I shall report back in due course.

        • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

          Excellent (and I will do the same). I will try to only be mildly disappointed if you don’t like it.

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