Since his debut over 50 years ago, Daredevil has proven to have incredible longevity.
The costumed identity of blind lawyer Matt Murdock struck a chord with readers. From his early days of pulp action to the darker trials brought on by Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and others, there's something about The Man Without Fear that keeps us coming back for more.
Netflix launches its brand new original series, Marvel's Daredevil, on April 10. Here are Daredevil's most important comic book storylines to get you ready for the premiere.
In April 1964, Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett (with input from Jack Kirby) introduced Marvel readers to a new and thoroughly unexpected kind of hero: one with a disability — Matt Murdock of Hell's Kitchen. Murdock was blinded in a childhood accident by a radioactive substance that took his sight but gave him a radar sense, as well as greatly heightening his other senses. He grew up to become Daredevil — lawyer by day, superhero by night.
Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr. retold Daredevil's origins in Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, published in 1993. Likewise, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale retold his origins again in 2001 with Daredevil: Yellow.
Frank Miller Defines a Hero
When artist Frank Miller was given the chance to take over as writer of the series, a slump in sales made a drastic turnaround — thanks to Miller's far darker take on the character. Miller introduced Murdock's mentor Stick, the villainous ninja clan the Hand, snagged existing villain Kingpin and made him Daredevil's archnemesis, and most importantly, he created Murdock's love interest and fellow fighter Elektra.
Miller's run lasted just two years (though he returned a few years later for the celebrated "Born Again" storyline), but his gritty, noir take on the material virtually erased all memories of what came before and still defines the character to this day.
The Marvel Knights Era Begins
In 1998, Marvel launched a new imprint for edgier, more adult comics called Marvel Knights. Future Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada lead the MK charge, starting with a high-profile relaunch of Daredevil featuring himself as artist and filmmaker Kevin Smith as writer. Smith highlighted and challenged Murdock's Catholic faith, while bringing his longtime, on-again/off-again girlfriend Karen Page back into the picture. He then shocked readers with a climactic showdown in which Bullseye murdered Page.
Artist David Mack later took over as writer and introduced recurring character Echo, a deaf martial artist who begins as Daredevil's enemy but becomes one of his closest allies.
Bendis Changes All the Rules
When Brian Michael Bendis took over the title with artist Alex Maleev, a four-year run began that would take the character and the comic book to new creative heights. Bendis kept Miller's darker take on Daredevil, but thickened the plot in ways both shocking and thrilling. The biggest development was undoubtedly the public outing of Matt Murdock as Daredevil. The long-lasting complications of this revelation lead to the Kingpin's return, Murdock's marriage to Milla Donovan, and even Daredevil taking charge of Hell's Kitchen and declaring himself the new Kingpin.
From Prison to San Fran
After Ed Brubaker took over for Bendis and sprung Murdock from prison, life settled back to normal — briefly. Writer Andy Diggle orchestrated a crossover event called "Shadowland," but it was Mark Waid who made the biggest impact on Daredevil, masterminding the next chapter of his life.
Weary with life constantly beating Daredevil down, Waid resolved to bring some happiness back into the story of Matt Murdock. After some further complications with his secret identity, Daredevil relocated to San Francisco where he could make something of a fresh start. He's still operating out of California at the time of this writing.