With the Daredevil series on Netflix being the only thing talked about the past couple of days, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at what some of the best Daredevil stories in the comics were. These are the arcs that have defined what we have come to know of as the character over the years, and yes, there will be a fair amount of Frank Miller in here. If your favorite storyline didn't make the list, don't fret, folks, this is just the first part of a 2 part Top 10! So be on the lookout for the second half of the list, "5 More of the Best Daredevil Stories." While comics is a visual medium, and the artwork is certainly important, this list will mostly be focusing on the stories. And here... we... go!
1. Fall From Grace
This story served as something of a turning point in the life of our horn-headed adventurer. Of course, it wasn't the first and it wouldn't be the last, but it did seem to transition the character from the hard-boiled '70s crime drama that it had been since Frank Miller's time on the book to the more mainstream superhero that he became in the latter part of the '90s. Daredevil's secret identity was outed in the press and he decided it best to fake Matt Murdock's death and continue as though someone else had picked up Daredevil's batons and legacy. Daredevil got a great new costume, courtesy of master comic book artist Scott McDaniel, and this story also saw the return of Elektra, who had been absent from Matt's life for quite some time.
2. Born Again
'Born Again' was Frank Miller's first return to the character that made him an A-list creator since he left the book with issue 191. 'Born Again' tells the story of how Karen Page, once Matt Murdock's love interest and secretary and now a drug addicted porn star, sells out Matt's secret identity as Daredevil to an LA drug dealer for her next hit. The information eventually makes its way to the Kingpin who quickly sets about putting it to good use by burning Matt Murdock's entire life (and his townhouse). Matt soon loses his home, he is disbarred and loses his law practice. Kingpin is probably the most sinister he had ever been in this story, ripping Matt's life apart from the shadows, layer by layer. It was cold, calculating and evil. It was a plot truly worthy of a character called Kingpin. This storyline was also considered as the basis for both a sequel and then a reboot of the Daredevil film, but that never materialized and the film rights have reverted back to Marvel who chose to do the Netflix series instead.
3. Last Rites
Also released in trade paperback under the title 'Fall of the Kingpin,' 'Last Rites' is a sort of spiritual sequel to 'Born Again,' even though it was made by a completely different creative team, which sees Matt Murdock do to Wilson Fisk what the Kingpin did to him, burn his entire life to the ground. Just as methodically and craftily as Kingpin had done to Matt Murdock, Daredevil dismantled Kingpin's entire criminal empire within four issues. Oh, and he also gets Matt Murdock reinstated to the BAR. Happy endings all around. Well, unless your name is Wilson Fisk.
4. Guardian Devil
Written by filmmaker Kevin Smith and illustrated by now Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, 'Guardian Devil' acted as somewhat of a relaunch of the Daredevil title, beginning it again at issue #1. While it is a very good story, it isn't the main story itself that sets it apart as one of the seminal arcs in Daredevil's history, instead, it is the heartbreaking death of beloved character Karen Page, who is revealed to have AIDS and is killed by Bullseye in this story. The scene is so heartbreaking that when Joe Quesada finished reading the script he called up Kevin Smith and confessed, "I am a woman" because the scene had caused him to tear up just a little bit.
5. Daredevil: Yellow
Written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale, 'Daredevil: Yellow' recounts the origin of Daredevil and is basically a retelling of the first six issues of the original Daredevil series. Like with 'Guardian Devil,' it isn't so much the main story that sets this arc apart. As I said, it is basically retelling the stories already told in other comics, but it is unique in that the narration is set up as a letter from Matt Murdock to Karen Page in which Matt talks about dealing with her death and how afraid he is looking at living in a world where she is no longer present. If you're familiar with titles like 'Batman: The Long Halloween,' which had the same creative team, this story is very much in keeping in quality with that story as well as with 'Superman For All Seasons,' which was very similar in that the Superman story basically retold the storyline from John Byrne's 'Man of Steel' miniseries. Jeph Loeb seems to have mastered the art of telling an old story from a new angle and making it seem fresh.
That's it for this time, but there will be a continuation (with some more Frank Miller) in the second half of my Daredevil Top 10, so keep your eye out for that.