Daredevil’s thirteen-episode season was a non-stop crime noir thrill ride populated by characters that stayed with me long after my binge watch ended.
The bad news: a second season won’t happen until sometime in 2016.
The good news: the comics listed below will help pass the time until then. It’s no coincidence that the first four creative runs are similar to the television show. The television show drew heavily on these stories for inspiration for storylines, atmosphere, and characters.
The last run listed? It’s just pure comic fun that should be read anyway.
Daredevil by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, Volume 1
Before Miller wrote a definitive Batman, he and Janson redefined Daredevil. This collection of stories from 1979-1982 features the introduction of Matt Murdock’s mysterious mentor, Stick, and his long-lost love, Elektra, whose existence was hinted at in the series. Kingpin, Ben Urich, Black Widow, Bullseye, and the Gladiator, who created Daredevil’s costume in the show, also populate these pages, in a storyline that still influences crime and superhero noir today.
In other words, the television show borrowed heavily from Miller and Janson’s classic stories. The stories were also collected in three volumes under Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller, and in an omnibus edition, but, even used, that cost upwards of $120.
Daredevil by Ann Nocenti and John Romita
Lost in the praise for Miller and Janson is Ann Nocenti’s run on the Daredevil. She had followed them on the title, an impossible job, and succeeded by putting her own stamp on Daredevil by concentrating the people of Hell’s Kitchen and sending Matt on a cross-country journey. She created Typhoid Mary, considered one of Daredevil’s most complex villains, and someone I hope appears in Season 2. The Nocenti/Romita run is collected in Daredevil Legions Volume 4: Typhoid Mary and Daredevil: Lone Stranger.
Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, Ultimate Collection, Volumes 1-3
Maleev’s influence on the look and feel of the Daredevil series will be apparent to anyone who opens this book. A dark and intense three-volume tale not only of the downfall of Wilson Fisk but also of Matt Murdock and his alter ego. While I’m not always thrilled with the drawn-out nature of individual issues, the story reads well collected as one story. I’d be surprised if Season 2 doesn’t borrow heavily from it.
Daredevil by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, Ultimate Collection, Book 1
This team took over right after Bendis and Maleev and the high quality of the storytelling never wavered. Matt, his identity exposed and in jail, has to fight not just the inmates but his own doubts and fears about his humanity. Again, the synergy between the writing and the art makes for a perfectly formed noir tale. There are two more books in this collection. You’ll want them too.
After you’re done with those?
Daredevil Volume 1 by Mark Waid and Paolo Manuel Rivera and Marcos Martin
Unlike the other books in this series, this creative team lightened up the book, ditching much of the emotional brooding and bringing a new art style to the book that highlighted how Matt’s heightened senses make the world look to him. While Daredevil has more fun in this collection, he’s still not out of the darkness.
Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog at Wired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.