I can’t just tell you to read all of Daredevil [though you should] because that’s not helpful in the slightest.
And I won’t just tell you to read my favourites, because I’ve probably done that before, and it’s not helpful.
We are gathered here today because the Netflix Daredevil series is about to start. As such, I wanted to drop a few recommendations in regards to what will go well with the show [or what I think the show will be]. Without fear, let’s move forward:
THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR – Frank Miller takes more than the issue Stan Lee and BIll Everett gave themselves to tell the origin of Matt Murdock and how he became Daredevil. With art from John Romita Jr, this book is pretty fantastic. In fact, Romita Jr is by far and away the star, and it’s worth reading along for the kinetic energy and iconic moments along. Because you’ll notice it’s one of the few books Miller made in a row not cited as a classic of the form. And it’s not as good as YEAR ONE or DKR but it is very cool [the more I think about it, the more the style and energy grows on me and I find myself forgiving the really fractured narrative structure that does not help things] and it seems like it’ll be hugely in line with the show.
FATHER – Joe Quesada’s slightly revisionist run at the character. After he’d reinvigorated sales with Kevin Smith in the relaunch [a fun tale but not something I’d recommend to go with the show], Quesada did this more personal mini dealing with Murdock and his father. There’s a lot of heart in this book, and a lot of shadows. Murdock is portrayed as this bruiser of a bloke – Quesada think that the son of a boxer might inherit that mesomorphic frame once he started working out. The visual, while not cannon, is very damn amazing and imposing. I think the tone of this book would inform the show well.
Lark and Brubaker’s run – putting this run before Maleev/Bendis because I just love it that much. Prison, old superheroes done modern but still goofy [which is how I’d see them on the show for sure – a mix of insane but still weird and wonderful and yet grounded enough to work]. This is noir, this is crime, this is what I really truly want the show to be. And this run has a lot of Kingpin, sans Elektra, and I think that’ll help inform the show. Just trust me and dive right in. Continuity, whatever, Daredevil is a blind dude, who fights, Page One, go.
Yes, the Maleev/Bendis run – okay, probably do this one first. It’s high crime [think THE WIRE before Lark/Brubaker get all Hammett up in Hell’s Kitchen], it’s gorgeous, and it’s one hell of a long story, again with lots of Kingpin. Lark/Brubaker also told one story, but broken into a trilogy of sorts. Besides some detours, this run is one epic mammoth crime tale. Which is pretty damn cool. I won’t be surprised if the show is as dark as this, as grounded, and as iconic.
Give some Stan the Man issues some love – just because. It’s the foundation and while the book has veered far, sometimes it’s interesting to note where it all started. You can probably jump around, not everything was awesome. Read the first Namor issue, get deep into that Mike Murdock insanity [I hope the show gives us a hint of how unhinged Matt Murdock is], there’s goodness to be found in random places.
As for Frank Miller, you can try his original run, but I’m not sure it’ll be good as lead up to the show. I don’t know, I keep flip flopping about it. In the end, I’d need to see the show to see if this’ll help. The show has Stick, which is in this run, and Kingpin is the big bad [as in the show] but the Kingpin arc heavily features Elektra, as well as some other weird stuff that I don’t think will get a run on the show. So I’m voting to wait on this one. It’ll be great for reading after this season, I think, but for now, let’s leave it off the table – or, know it’s amazing but won’t necessarily be the intro to the show you might want/need. I feel they might save Elektra for Season 2 [feeling that = me hoping it real hard]. The tone will all be there but I don’t think content wise it’s for this season, to be honest, and I think it’ll work great post-S1 [pure speculation] so take this paragraph with a grain of salt.
As for the elephant in the room, BORN AGAIN, I just don’t see that story hitting this season at all. It’s a masterpiece [until the final reel, Nuke sucks, come at me, brocetera] but I don’t see this influencing the small screen nearly as much as peeps like Lark and Bendis, et al.
But don’t let me stop you reading any Daredevil. You want to get into the San Fran days with Black Widow, roll on, soldier. You’ve heard gigantic words used on the Samnee/Waid run, shine on, brother. Wanna get down with the insanity of the Gerber run, aw yeah, do that. I would tell you to hold off on the Chichester run because I think Marvel would be crackers not to mine his use of Typhoid Mary for a later season [with obvious grabs from Romita Jr/Nocenti who created that character], but I guess only time will tell.
The above runs, though huge, will get you set up for the Daredevil show. I think. You can also hit my link farm to get the more didactic news on our man Murdock. Then just get ready for what’s sure to be blind good times.