By Ben Morse
Few Marvel characters have the creative pedigree of Daredevil. Over his four-plus decades of publication, Matt Murdock has starred in a plethora of classic stories courtesy of Stan Lee, Gene Colan, Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker and many more.
We asked some of the great editors and creators fortunate enough to work on the Man Without Fear over the years for the stories they most enjoyed.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
BOB GALE (former writer of DAREDEVIL):
Ah, here we have a true embarrassment of riches! I particularly love the Stan Lee-Gene Colan run from [DAREDEVIL v1] #20 to #49. My favorite is probably Daredevil vs. Dr. Doom in DD #37-#38. What makes this great is the absolutely brilliant ending, in which Daredevil
uses Dr. Doom's personality and character to defeat him—no, I'm not going to explain it here because I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read this arc.
I also loved the whole subplot about Matt's fictional twin brother Mike that was going on around that time. And finally, I can't talk about Daredevil without mentioning what is probably my all time favorite title of any comic: [DAREDEVIL v1] #28: "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Planet."
KARL KESEL (former writer of DAREDEVIL):
Okay—the [Frank] Miller stuff on DD is outstanding. No denying it. "Born Again" is a storyline that still takes my breath away. But personally
Personally, my favorite DD will always be the Gene Colan issues, preferably written by Stan [Lee]. No one has ever captured the sense of perpetual, smooth movement
that I believe is an essential part of DD better than Colan. I can't name one specific
story in particular—I loved 'em all—but I have an irrational fondness for Mike Murdock! The idea that Matt would pretend to be his own brother
was just too twisted and wacky and I couldn't get enough of it!
But then, Stan was constantly throwing things at the wall to see what would stick with DD. He switched bodies with Dr. Doom! He was thrown a half-second out-of-sync with the rest of reality! It seemed like anything could happen at any time. Talk about a man without fear—Stan set the pace and DD had to try to keep up!
STUART MOORE (former editor of DAREDEVIL):
[Daredevil has] had an amazing run over the years. One of my favorites, which I edited, is issue #31 of the current series, by the team supreme of Brian Bendis, Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth. Not only does it show the rapid fall of would-be crime boss Mr. Silke—a gangster suddenly shown to be way out of his depth—but there's an absolutely chilling conversation between Vanessa Fisk and her son Richard that shows just how hard she really is. Oh, and Daredevil's secret identity is revealed, too. It's a classic.
JOHN ROMITA JR. (former artist of DAREDEVIL, artist of DAREDEVL: MAN WITHOUT FEAR):
My favorite is MAN WITHOUT FEAR. Frank's best work on DD as far as I'm concerned. A little biased, I am!
GREG RUCKA (upcoming writer of DAREDEVIL):
No offense to the many talented writers to work on the book since then, but my all-time favorite DD story remains, to this day, the first one I ever read: "Born Again" by Miller and [artist David] Mazzucchelli.
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Executive Editor, former editor of DAREDEVIL):
I think the quintessential Daredevil story is issue #7 [of DAREDEVIL v1], which had the Sub-Mariner in it. What I loved about it was how DD, even though he was completely outmatched by Namor, still struggled with such courage, such fearlessness, that Namor rescinded his Atlantean attack on New York City and went back to the sea.
There was an unforgettable sequence of a beaten Daredevil, clawing his way toward Namor and clutching his ankle begging him not to attack the city because the people here were innocents. It was so beautifully staged. Instead of having some clever way that Daredevil tricked the Sub-Mariner or beat him in some hokey manner, Stan went right to the core of the character—The Man Without Fear—and used that as the method he "beat" Namor with. They don't make 'em like that anymore.
MIKE CAREY (writer of ULTIMATE ELEKTRA):
Well the Daredevil story that hit me the hardest was [volume one] #179, which ends with Elektra throwing a sai at Ben Urich and apparently killing him. He makes a comment as he falls along the lines of "damned cigarettes, I always knew they'd kill me," because it was his smoker's cough that alerted Elektra to the fact that he was watching her.
What made this so hard-hitting was that Ben was both a complete innocent and a very sympathetic character: for Elektra to attack him marked the decisive crossing of
a boundary. She wasn't morally ambivalent any more, she was flat-out evil and had to be stopped—even though Matt still loved her. I can remember howling "Nooooo!" as I got to that page.
AXEL ALONSO (Marvel Executive Editor):
DAREDEVIL #181: "Last Hand," by Frank Miler and Klaus Janson. Bullseye escapes from prison, battles with Elektra, executes her with an ace of spades to the throat and a sai through the chest…and Daredevil gets his revenge. I can't think of a self-contained comic that tops it.
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor):
Forget what you think you know about Daredevil, Frank Miller, film noir [or] tough and gritty. I'm going to tell you about the real greatest Daredevil story ever told, from [DAREDEVIL v1] #30-#32.
See, Daredevil is lounging around his law office, pretending to be his own twin brother Mike Murdock, a hopelessly out-of-date swinger with a battered porkpie hat, when all of a sudden he hears a radio report that the Cobra and Mister Hyde have broken out of prison. Having nothing better to do, he decides to track them down and bring them in. And, since they're Thor's old enemies, the best way to draw
them out into the open is to dress up like Thor. So Matt creates this big Thor costume, including fake plastic arm muscles, which he then puts on atop his Daredevil costume—which itself is atop his Matt Murdock clothes, as we see when he removes his DD mask and Matt's dark glasses pop out from underneath. So attired, he proceeds to swing around the city, his billy club cleverly concealed alongside his faux Mjolnir. Trouble is, the real Thor gets cranky about the impersonation, and shows up to literally blow the costume off of DD's back with a strong gust of wind. Then Thor takes off—just seconds before the Cobra and Mr. Hyde leap out of the bushes to ambush DD!
In preparation for their upcoming battle with Thor, these guys have developed a new weapon, and they decide to test it out on the more vulnerable Daredevil first. And wouldn't you know it—it's a ray that makes people blind! You'd think that Daredevil would be sitting in the catbird seat now, but no way—instead of blinding him, since he's already blind, the ray instead messes up his radar sense, so he's truly sightless! Matt makes his way back to his law offices where he shares his problems
with Foggy and Karen Page—who both believe that Mike Murdock, Matt's fictional twin brother, is secretly Daredevil. Suddenly, they all look out the window across the street, where they see the Cobra and Mr. Hyde robbing a jewelry exchange situated atop the building next door. Despite his handicap, Daredevil decides that he must face them down, so he has Foggy help him up to the rooftop. He casts his billy club line across the gap, and attempts to high-wire across it. But without his radar sense, he can't do it, slips, almost plummets to his death and saves himself only by frantically grabbing for the billy club line. Despite this, the Cobra and Mister Hyde are convinced that not only is this really Daredevil, but he must be in the peak of health—"Nobody but him would be crazy enough to fool around that way twenty stories up!"—so they take off without their loot.
Making his way to the ground, Daredevil calls out for Foggy for help in getting home—but it's not Foggy who answers him, but the Cobra and Mister Hyde. Now they know he's sightless! But rather than finish him off there and then, they instead decide to bundle DD into a waiting car, and take him back to their secret lair, where he'll be extra-helpless. They even hold his hand as they escort him out of the car, and lead him into their base of operations, an old castle. Loose-lips Hyde lets slip that he's got an antidote to the ray on hand, so Daredevil swings into action,
despite the fact that he can't see. Stumbling around, he not only keeps the Cobra and Mr. Hyde at bay, but he manages to spill the antidote on himself, which fixes his radar sense. Now back at his fighting peak, he makes short work of the Cobra and Hyde, and is able to make it back to the law offices in time to share a last quip with Foggy.
Say what you will about this story, but years and years and years later, I remember it—all the detail above was quoted from memory.
For more Daredevil check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.