The Best of Daredevil: The Nearly, but Not Quites

Inspired by Comic Book Resources’ own take on it, I decided to look back down memory lane and choose my top 10 eras of Daredevil. Getting 10 runs that are worthy of attention in this way was both easier and harder than expected. There’s a lot more worthwhile in DD’s history than just, say, Miller, Bendis, Waid, but not every era is one I endorse without reservations. Those reservations, for the sake of honesty, are included pretty clearly in each of the write-ups.

On the other hand, there were creator and times that I liked that did not make the list for a number of reasons. We’ll begin with those I came closest to including and why it did not work out before moving on to the main event starting tomorrow.

The Nearly But Not Quites

 A sighted Matt Murdock faces off against Le Concierge in the City of Lights. (image from manwithoutfear.com)

A sighted Matt Murdock faces off against Le Concierge in the City of Lights. (image from manwithoutfear.com)

Blind No More! (Lobdell, Hamner, Morgan; Vol 1 #376-379)

At only four issues long and clearly marking time until the end of the book, I could not place this in the top 10 in good conscience. Nonetheless, it is a fun time. The story sees Murdock working for S.H.I.E.L.D. He has a new costume, a new hair color, no memory, and, most intriguingly, he can see again.

It has brand new villains, globe-trotting, a decent mystery and... Stilt-Man! If Lobdell put together a few more issues on DAREDEVIL and kept the fun coming, we probably would not be seeing him here, but on the main list instead.

 Mr. Fear cracks up over that most excellent pun. (image from manwithoutfear.com)

Mr. Fear cracks up over that most excellent pun. (image from manwithoutfear.com)

The Saga of Mr. Fear and the Serial Killer (Kelly, Raab, Ferry, Colan, Nord, Denham, Leon, Leonardi, Lyle, Olivetti, ; Vol. 1 #358, 365-375)

Marred by inconsistent art that was marked by muddy inks and colors (seriously, what they did to Colan’s work is horrible) this run still managed some quality moments. In particular, I like Kelly’ first issue, a fill-in that casts Mysterio as the ultimate immoral opportunist as he attempts to cash in on a post-Onslaught world with an insurance scam. Not only good in its own right, it also set up Smith’s run some almost two years later by establishing the antagonism between DD and the dastardly master of special effects. Other highlights include the elevated to boss level schemer Mr. Fear and an out of control with grief Black Widow pushing her relationship to Murdock past its breaking point (a storyline left unfinished from Kesel’s run taken to a logical, if extreme, conclusion).

Overall, though, the aforementioned art and some lackluster characters—the new villain, Insomnia, for one, never paid off—undercut this run too strongly to let it in the top.

 Bring back Trump! Bring back Trump! Let me do it! Let me do it! (image from manwithoutfear,com)

Bring back Trump! Bring back Trump! Let me do it! Let me do it! (image from manwithoutfear,com)

The In-Between Era (O’Neill, Carlin, Grant, Ellison, Cover, Mazzucchelli, Priest (then Owsley), Buscema, Janson, Hama, Johnson, McDonnell, Isherwood, Jurgens; Vol. 1 #194-218, 220-226)

Starting out with some promising ninja work and a brutal encounter with a revitalized Bullseye, most of the run was pretty standard boilerplate comic bookery broken by weird fill-in issues from the likes of Ellison and Cover. The run did boast some villains that I’d love to see again (and, hey, if I ever  got a chance, I would do it myself) including the Gael, an Irish assassin that almost evaded capture if not for a Cossack with a very sci-fi weapon, Michah Synn, a sort of Kraven the Hunter with Kingpin sized dreams, and The Trump, a magician with very low level criminal designs.

Well…this ran a bit longer than I expected. Apparently even the runs that do not quite work for me still inspire me to prattle on. I truly am a Daredevil super fan!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little diversion. Come back tomorrow for the Main Event!