If your only experience of Daredevil was that terrible Ben Affleck flick, I feel sorry for you. That movie did no justice to one of the best superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Frank Miller didn’t invent Daredevil, but he reinvented him and made him a badass. This graphic novel collects issued #1-5 of Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. It is an origin story, and it’s a great way to introduce yourself to the sightless world of the Daredevil.
Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer by day and a vigilante known as Daredevil by night. The story starts with a young Matt Murdock growing up in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. He lives alone with his dad, a washed up boxer Jack “The Devil” Murdock. Jack’s glory days are well behind him and he is forced to do enforcement work for a local gangster. Jack’s biggest fear is that Matt will grow up and become a lowlife like him. He pushes Matt to stay out of trouble, to obey the rules, and to be a success.
One day Matt pushes an old blind guy out of the way of a truck, some toxic sludge gets on his face, and Matt loses his sight. Although he loses his eyesight, his other senses grow and he can use his heightened senses to get a sense of the world around him. He can feel the air and echolocate, and he gets heightened physical abilities like a ninja gymnast. He meets a mysterious mentor named Stick who teaches him to harness his abilities.
Jack’s dad pisses off the wrong people and ends up dead. Matt seeks his father’s murderers and wipes them out one by one. Stick catches wind of this and decides that he can’t teach him anymore and stops their nighttime lessons.
Matt Murdock grows up and goes to law school, where he meets his best friend Foggy Nelson. Matt also meets Elektra, a wealthy girl who also likes to run around under the cover of darkness. She is wild, untamable, and he loves her instantly. They have a brief but passionate love affair, but she breaks it off and moves away.
Matt graduates and becomes a lawyer and finds himself back in Hell’s Kitchen as an adult. A new criminal named the Kingpin has risen to power and crime is on a meteoric increase. Matt meets a young girl named Mickey and she’s having a hard time and Matt takes her under his wing and starts training her. She gets kidnapped by some lowlifes with ties to the Kingpin and in the process of saving her, the Kingpin becomes aware of the new threat to his criminal empire and they become enemies.
Frank Miller takes a ridiculous concept like a blind superhero in New York and makes it genuine. Like Batman: Year One, Miller takes an already established character and goes back into his their history to find out who they are and how they came to be. Dressing up in a costume and risking your life to fight crime doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years and years and a lot of fucked up events to twist your psyche into that level of delusion, and that’s what this story is all about.
Don’t let a bad Ben Affleck movie keep you from exploring the source material. They made Daredevil into a movie for a reason. He is an interesting character with cooler powers than you might think. Check out The Man Without Fear for yourself and agree with me.
Critically Rated at 14/17