I’ll warn you in advance, today’s post has little point, It’s strictly for my own enjoyment and your edification. You can thank me later. As it happens, I’m neither a comic book fanatic, nor particularly knowledgeable about them. I rarely enter a debate about which superhero would win in any given situation – mostly because I don’t like to lose – and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever find me engaged in cosplay. When I do read graphic novels/comics, my preference tends to be for dark and gritty worlds filled with ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This means – more or less – that Locke & Key is the perfection to which everything else is compared and superheroes need not apply. My stance on avoiding superheroes stems from several issues in the superhero universe. Primarily, if a series is long running, there are so many twists and changes – especially to a character’s backstory – that it’s impossible to keep up. Before you know it Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus and Mary Jane Watson died from repeated exposure to radioactive sperm. So I don’t even try. Except – and there’s always an exception, isn’t there? – when it comes to Daredevil. My devotion to the man without fear began a long time ago – probably around the time I realized Batman is an asshole, Green Arrow is womanizing cad, Superman is absolutely implausible, Captain America was manufactured, and Spider-Man…well, seriously?
In casual conversation, Daredevil’s often listed as one of the worst superheroes out there. I blame this on the film version released in 2003, which I can honestly tell you is not that bad. And why people choose to single out Daredevil over The Green Lantern, Cat Woman, or The Fantastic Four (and its sequel) is beyond me. My point being that while Daredevil is not for everyone, don’t judge it on one bad film adaptation. Everyone still loves Batman, after all. And that’s okay. If you choose to believe in the superiority of Batman, I won’t judge.
I will, however, take this opportunity to give you ten reasons why Daredevil is the greatest superhero (and comic book series) of all time. In no particular order:
10. Matt Murdock is more important than Daredevil. Justice is blind. What he does to protect the community he lives in and for those seeking justice in the courtroom outweigh his vigilante antics as Daredevil. This is one of the more compelling parts of the character. After all, who matters more: Tony Stark or Iron Man? Peter Parker or Spider-Man? Steve Rogers or Captain America?
09. Comic Book Illustrator/Artist Alex Maleev. Given the work Maleev’s done with Marvel for Stephen King’s N. adaptation, it’s probably not surprising that I’m huge fan. He’s also contributed to the Dark Tower series. Although I liked Miller’s work (particularly Born Again), the Bendis/Maleev run is what solidified my devotion.
08. Ninjas. Everyone loves ninjas.
07. He’s not wealthy and he has a day job. Although I covered the nature of his work in #10, the fact that he has to have a full time job is rather unusual. Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, Iron Fist, and Angel are billionaires. Spider-Man masquerades as a part-time newspaper photographer. Bruce Banner and Reed Richards are genius scientists. Magneto stole his money. Murdock worked hard to get through school, just as he works hard to be good at his job. Side note: it drives me crazy to hear him referred to as Batman without money.
06. His strength is also his weakness. The heightened senses that make him unique also make him vulnerable. He has spent years training in various martial arts and it’s easy to marvel at his success coping with his added abilities,
05. He can be defeated. Continuing from the previous point, Daredevil is – relatively speaking – easily defeatable. One well-timed loud noise and Daredevil goes down. But he always gets back up – even from a mental breakdown. Defeating evil supervillians isn’t what’s important to him, defending the residents of Hell’s Kitchen is.
04. Foggy Nelson. The comic book series, more often than not, is dark, gritty, and noirish. Foggy keeps it from getting too dark.
03. Excellent taste in women. Murdock/Daredevil prefers independent, intelligent, and strong women regardless of whether or not they are superheroes. In fact, the love of his life is absolutely ordinary. However, you’d never want to actually be one of them, it never turns out well (drug addict, insanity, death, etc.).
02. Writing. Daredevil has a rich history of talented comic book writers and illustrators, including Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Gerry Conway, Brian Michael Bendis, and Ed Brubaker. Even Bob Gale (the screenwriter behind Back to the Future) had a short run. So it’s not surprising that the series has some of the most consistent writing out there.
01. His humanity. Matt Murdock/Daredevil is one of the most psychologically interesting superheroes ever created. He struggles with the dichotomy of his life. During the day, he is a lawyer fighting for those who need it, not necessarily those who can pay for it. He also represents people who are innocent of the crime, but are nowhere near innocent in any other aspect of life (I suggest checking out Redemption, specifically). While at night, he is a vigilante with a blatant disregard for the justice system. He struggles to reconcile the two. The series does an excellent job of balancing the banality of his day to day work and the extreme antics of his night life.
Bonus: I really like his costume.
I rarely venture into the world of comic books and superheroes, but today is an exception. My top ten reasons to love Daredevil were written in honor of graphic novels/comics month (#comicsfebruary if you’re on Twitter/Instagram – hosted by Trish and company). The month is looking up already.
So did anyone stick it out to the end of the list? If you did, I applaud you. Will you be joining Graphic Novels Month? If you could only recommend one graphic novel, what would it be?