One of the most famous disabled superheroes of all time, Daredevil remains such a compelling superhero because of the wonderful effort both writers and artists put into Daredevil comic books. Daredevil stories tend to focus on much more than the standard hero-fights-villain trope, utilizing the somberness of Daredevil to explore scenarios and themes most other comics cannot come close to. In Daredevil storylines, the story of the hero matters just as much as that of attorney Matt Murdock, thereby imbuing everyday life with the same grit and excitement of being a vigilante.
The best Daredevil comics touch upon those dual lives that Murdock lives, along with the perspectives and lives of Daredevil's greatest villains and allies. By providing voice to Murdock's enemies, many Daredevil story arcs provide complex and compelling storylines about morality and motive. But some of Daredevil's greatest adventures happen when he's not even wearing spandex, when instead he must navigate the obstacles and tragedies of life that even superpowers cannot fix.
Daredevil #227-233: Born Again
In this brutal story arc from Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli, a drug addicted Karen Page betrays Daredevil’s secret identity for the poison she needs. The information ends up in the hands of Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, who has long sought a means to end the ongoing obstacle of Daredevil. When given this critical information the Kingpin uses it to systematically destroy Murdock’s life while he watches with glee. Only after Murdock rises from the ashes of his destruction to fight back does Fisk understand what Daredevil truly is. Fisk soon realizes to his chagrin a man with nothing left to lose is also a man without fear.
Daredevil #181: Last Hand
Daredevil v1 #181 proved to be a defining comic for Frank Miller, Marvel Comics, and comics in general. Last Hand chronicles the final story of Elektra Natchios as Frank Miller envisioned her: a remorseless killer in her own right, and the true love of Daredevil. Narrated by Bullseye himself, readers watch as he escapes prison, and tries to return to his old job as the Kingpin’s elite assassin. To that end he stalks and brutally kills Elektra, the Kingpin’s then current assassin, raising both the stakes between Daredevil and himself and the level of investment on the part of comic fans everywhere. The resulting throw down between Bullseye and Murdock stands the test of time, and this comic remains a seminal moment in the history of both characters.
In Daredevil v1 #191, Matt Murdock pays a visit to the bedside of a paralyzed Bullseye after allowing the assassin to fall and shatter his spine following his murder of Elektra. Murdock plays a game of Russian roulette with Bullseye, coldly taunting the helpless killer by repeatedly putting the .38 revolver to his face and pulling the trigger then to his own head and doing the same. This storyline highlights Daredevil’s deteriorating mental state as it begins to toy with the powerless villain so cruelly. In the end, Murdock’s gun isn’t loaded; he just wants the sociopathic Bullseye to feel an iota of the same anguish Murdock himself feels. The story, written by Frank Miller and drawn by Miller and inker extraordinaire Terry Austin is a dark and chilling indicator of just how deep the enmity between the two men runs.
Daredevil: Love And War
Bill Sienkiewicz’s masterfully surreal artwork sets the stage for a brilliant story by Frank Miller focused on another character trapped in the gravitational pull of Matt Murdock. Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, desperate to hold on to the only decent thing in his life, his wife Vanessa, kidnaps the wife of a brain surgeon. The Kingpin holds the surgeon's wife hostage in an attempt to force him to find a cure for Vanessa. An autistic, drug addicted, killer makes up the final cast member in this dreamlike examination of the intense feelings and desires of the man called Kingpin.