Superhero TV has come a long way since Adam West first did the Batusi in the ‘60s. While DC had a bit of a monopoly with shows like Smallville and Arrow, Marvel redefined the game with Daredevil on Netflix. Eschewing camp and soap opera shenanigans, the show brought all the grit and violence of the Frank Miller era to live-action awesomeness. Now with the second season coming upon us on March 18th and introducing heavy hitters like Elektra and The Punisher, there’s little doubt we’re going to tear through all 14 episodes by the time Batman v. Superman comes out. So if you find yourself sitting in front of your computer and wondering how you can fill that Hell’s Kitchen-sized hole in your heart, think about picking up these iconic Daredevil comics.
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear
Frank Miller is probably the definitive Daredevil writer and is credited with creating the badass modern incarnation of the character. Daredevil: The Man Without Fear is Miller and artist John Romita Jr.’s take on Matt Murdoch’s origin story. Similar to what he did with Batman: Year One, Miller takes an in-depth look at Murdoch’s youth from dealing with his new powers to his ninja training to his first meeting with pre-assassin Elektra. The real star of the show is Matt’s father, Battlin’ Jack Murdoch: Marvel’s answer to Rocky. Except, instead of living a long life filled with epic rivalries and proteges, he gets murdered by gangsters for not throwing a fight thus leaving his blind son an orphan. Merry Christmas.
Daredevil: Born Again
Daredevil’s been through the ringer. Not only does he get the living shit kicked out of him on a regular basis and his girlfriends have a bad habit of dying horribly, but his life really goes to Hell when an old ally sells his secret identity to the Kingpin. In Born Again by Frank Miller, Fisk systematically destroys Matt’s life over a year from getting him disbarred to bankrupting him. Backed into a corner with nothing left to lose, Daredevil struggles to rebuild his life…and dismantle Fisk’s. Featuring art by David Mazzucchelli and heavy use of Catholic imagery, Born Again is easily one of the best Daredevil stories ever written.
Daredevil Vs The Punisher: Means and Ends
If there’s one thing that’s got us hyped up for season 2 of Daredevil it’s Jon Bernthal’s disturbed take on The Punisher. While previous live-action incarnations of Marvel’s favorite anti-hero have seen him take on the likes of John Travolta, we’re excited to see one of comics’ most intense rivalries play out with that all that Netflix-quality blood and stunt choreography. Daredevil Vs. Punisher: Means and Ends by David Lapham lives up to its name as the characters struggle to protect Hell’s Kitchen from gangsters and supervillains vying to take Wilson Fisk’s place as Kingpin of Crime. But when their methods clash, i.e. arresting criminals versus viciously murdering them, DD and The Punisher find their greatest threat might be each other.
The Devil in Cellblock D
Remember when I said Born Again was Daredevil at his lowest? This story line, which kicked off Ed Brubaker’s run on the character, finds Matt Murdoch with his identity divulged to the public and locked up in prison with all his least favorite people including Bullseye, Kingpin, and Hammerhead. Claustrophobic and capital “D” dark, The Devil in Cellblock D also features The Punisher letting himself get incarcerated so he can back-up his best frenemy and “Punish” some baddies without some do-gooder trying to stop the fun. The arc also has some beautiful art from Michael Lark.
Daredevil: Guardian Devil
Kevin Smith has had a bit of a spotty record in comics…and movies…but his 8-issue run on Daredevil takes things in an apocalyptic direction when Matt Murdoch finds himself taking care of a baby that could be the Anti-Christ or the Second Coming. Facing off against demons and assassins as he tries to figure out what to do with the Omen-baby, the story line has twists that’ll leave you praying for respite. Catholic himself, Smith really zeroes-in on Matt’s Catholic guilt and existential angst to pretty epic effect. The run also features art from Joe Quesada who you may know as Marvel’s editor-in-chief between 2000 and 2010.