Daredevil has gotten a lot of great press since the release of the phenomenal Netflix TV series. The show managed to give die-hard comics fans what they wanted without alienating the casual TV viewer. So if the tv show has given you a taste for the adventures of blind attorney Matthew Murdock, or if you’ve always wanted to read some of Hornhead’s stories but don’t know where to start, ComicsVerse is pleased to guide you through what we consider DAREDEVIL essential reading material. Special thanks to Matthew Murphy and Mark Hassenfratz for helping me put this list together.

DAREDEVIL #1 (1964) by Stan Lee and Bill Everett

Daredevil

 

Congratulations True Believers! What you are about to read is the senses-shattering origin of Daredevil, The Man Without Fear! Written by Stan Lee, this was a done-in-one tale which introduced the world to Matt Murdock, Daredevil, Karen Page, and Foggy Nelson. It opens in Fogwell’s bar where some ne’er-do-wells are playing poker. They are interrupted by a cocky young man in a bright yellow costume. After exchanging a few quips and punches, he finally introduces himself as Daredevil and says that he’s looking for the Fixer! Our blind hero has changed over the years but during his first few years, his adventures were light and slightly campy. Matt didn’t hide in the shadows; he stood out in the light and would often just enter a villain’s lair through the front door. However, this issue is a lot of fun, and it sums up all you need to know about our hero in just one issue. For the curious, he gets his red costume in issue #7. Daredevil’s debut issue can be bought digitally on Marvel’s website, but if you prefer your comics in their floppy format, it can be found in printed form as part of the MARVEL MASTERWORKS: DAREDEVIL VOL.1 COLLECTION.

READ: We look at the most recent DAREDEVIL Annual!

DAREDEVIL VISIONARIES: FRANK MILLER, VOL. 1 – 3 (1981)

Daredevil

One cannot mention Daredevil without bringing up Frank Miller. The DAREDEVIL BY FRANK MILLER collection is an instant classic and introduced us to time-honored Daredevil villains like Gladiator, Kingpin, and Bullseye. The villains make this collection, but the relationships Matt Murdock has with deadly assassin Elektra and stealthy spy Black Widow also establish a longstanding tradition of Matt’s unsuccessful love life. The modern iteration of the series can trace its roots back to this legendary run.

READ: We explore color theory in Daredevil’s world!

DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN (1986) by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli

Daredevil

DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN shows what a mark Miller left on the series. It’s one of the greatest Marvel stories of all time. We see Matt Murdock hit rock bottom at the hands of the unstoppable Kingpin, who has found out his secret identity, and Matt’s attempts at rebuilding his life afterward. With stunning art by David Mazzuchelli and a script by Frank Miller that’s brilliant, heartbreaking, and, ultimately, redeeming, this story strips everything away to reveal who exactly Matt Murdock is: a hero.

READ: We review Season 2 of DAREDEVIL on Netflix!

ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN (1990) by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

Daredevil

Released in 1990, ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN is a rarely discussed Frank Miller graphic novel. It is the final Elektra story told by Miller, and you’re wondering why it’s included on an essential DAREDEVIL list. The answer is that it’s meant to be the final Elektra chapter in Matt Murdock’s life. The graphic novel follows Murdock as he is haunted by the death of his lover and dreams of her resurrection nightly. Something is brewing with Bullseye and the Hand, and it all has to do with Elektra. If you can find the comic, it is an absolute must-read. ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN is the story of how Matt Murdock found peace after heartbreak, how Elektra found peace in death.

LISTEN: We talk to Marvel writer Tim Stevens about Daredevil!

DAREDEVIL: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR (1993) by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.

Daredevil

Akin to his reinvention of Batman’s origin with David Mazzuchelli in BATMAN: YEAR ONE, DAREDEVIL: MAN WITHOUT FEAR is the reinvention of Daredevil’s origin as told by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. It is the series that the DAREDEVIL TV series relied on for adaptation, and it’s easy to tell why. It’s Miller’s final Daredevil story to date and the first collaboration between the storyteller and Romita Jr.

DAREDEVIL: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR is the YEAR ONE of Daredevil stories. It shows Matt Murdock at his weakest, physically and emotionally, and his two inspirations are his father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, and his mentor, Stick. An inexperienced Daredevil is not one many fans are used to. Murdock has been written two ways over the years: confident or depressed. Miller breaks open the character he made famous at the beginning of his career and tells one of the greatest tales ever to take place in Hell’s Kitchen.

READ: We examine Frank Millers work on BATMAN: YEAR ONE!

DAREDEVIL: GUARDIAN DEVIL (1998) by Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada

Daredevil

Drawing from his religious experiences, Kevin Smith delves deep into Matt Murdock’s Catholic upbringing in GUARDIAN DEVIL. A teenage girl leaves her new-born daughter with Daredevil, claiming she bore the child without ever having sex. Diving into the mystery, Matt discovers that the girl could be the returning Christ or the coming of the Anti-Christ. Engaging with demons and Spider-Man villains, Daredevil must question his very faith to get through this harrowing adventure. With action, excitement, and very real loss, Smith hits all the right notes that will have the reader questioning everything until the very end.

READ: We revisit DAREDEVIL Season 1!

DAREDEVIL (2001 – 2006) by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev

Daredevil

With a run that spanned over five years (#16–#81), this epic series by Bendis and Maleev takes Daredevil through the wringer. The Kingpin, Elektra, Bullseye, Black Widow, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage all make an appearance that culminates in Daredevil’s secret identity being outed by the press. This arc hailed as the pinnacle of DD stories, and it’s easy to see why. With beautiful art by Maleev and Bendis firing on all cylinders, this series (collected in three volumes) stands as a testament to great superhero storytelling.

READ: We look at Brian Michael Bendis’ POWERS’ first series arc!

DAREDEVIL: THE DEVIL, INSIDE AND OUT (2006) by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

Daredevil

Continuing from Bendis and Maleev’s impressive run could be daunting for any creative team, but Brubaker and Lark step up to the plate and hit a home run. The FBI have detained Matt Murdock, jailed in a federal prison. Meanwhile, Daredevil prowls the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, battling injustice wherever he finds it. Wait, what? While Matt struggles to survive on the inside, encountering many of his most dangerous foes, someone else has taken up his heroic mantle, keeping the streets of New York safe at night. It could be challenging beginning a new DAREDEVIL run with your hero in jail, but Brubaker and Lark make it work, deftly balancing prison life with the mystery of who the new Daredevil is.

LISTEN: We talk about street-level superheroes in this ComicsVerse podcast!

DAREDEVIL (2011) by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez and Matthew Wilson

Daredevil

Matt Murdock has always been a hero that fights in the shadows, full of angst and turmoil. But with the relaunch of DAREDEVIL with a new #1 in 2011, the creative team (with Samnee replacing Rivera at #23) brought The Man Without Fear into the light. DD’s attitude was fun, full of optimism and hope, harking back to the early Lee/Kirby days. He became a positive force, which threw a lot of his long-time friends who expected him to be the elusive Matt they all knew. Waid, Rivera, and Samnee gave Matt plenty of challenges, facing old foes and discovering long-lost secrets, yet injecting proceedings with a sense of fun that hadn’t graced the series in a long time. With Daredevil’s biography being produced and a relocation to San Francisco, every issue is a delight to read, and as such you need to read the entire run, no excuses!

READ: We review DD‘s first arc in his new series!

DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS (2012) by Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Klaus Janson, Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth

Daredevil

If THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR is the BATMAN: YEAR ONE of Daredevil stories, DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS is the character’s version of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. However, we don’t see an elderly Matt Murdock put on the costume after a long retirement. Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Alex Maleev, and Klaus Janson team up to tell the story of Daredevil’s death and it’s unlike any Daredevil story told before.

END OF DAYS is an interesting Daredevil story because Matt Murdock is not the active protagonist of the story. This is the story of Ben Urich solving one of Daredevil’s last secrets. It is the story about the death of Bullseye. A story about Elektra finally finding peace. The comic celebrates the long history of Daredevil, his supporting cast, and it keeps readers guessing throughout each issue. After Matt Murdock dies, what comes next?

READ: Already hungry for more Daredevil? Check out our overview of Ann Nocenti’s run on the series!

So there you have it, essential Daredevil stories that will heighten your senses! But that’s not all there is to ol’ Hornhead. This is just a taster of his many exciting adventures. Once you have these stories read, there’s plenty more Matt Murdock on the bookshelves! What do you think are the most important DAREDEVIL stories? Tell us what we left out in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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