Authors: Frank Miller
Illustrators: John Romita Jr.Publisher: Marvel
The Blind Man Comet
Frank Miller’s Daredevil: The Man Without Fear begins the origin story of Matt Murdock, the man who would eventually become known as the Daredevil. I’m not the biggest fan of the Daredevil character, especially since my introduction to him was the 2003 Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck. But this is a pretty strong comic, even though the plot was used for the first half of the before-mentioned movie. A lot of the little things that didn’t make it into the film really make a difference, and that’s why this version of the Daredevil story is successful and the other was not. Also the comic doesn’t have Ben Affleck in it.
Matt Murdock is a young intelligent boy living in Hell’s Kitchen who’s constantly bullied and taunted with the name daredevil by his peers. His father is a prize fighter who’s down on his luck and has to work for the mob in order to make ends meet. One day Matt is involved in an accident that results in him losing his eye sight permanently. Shortly thereafter, inspired by his father’s fights and the injustices he faces in the world, he becomes the apprentice of a mysterious man that trains him how to fight without his eyesight.
This is an early Miller story that kind of shows where he started to pick up steam as a writer. A lot of the elements and influences that would later go on to be in Miller’s classic The Dark Knight Returns can be found here. Daredevil has an origin story full of moral conflict. His father wants to be role model to his son which is why he wishes to be a fighting champion, yet he has to work for the mob in order to make ends meet. It makes for a tragic and emotional backstory, as Matt learns the truth about his father, he must decide how to forgive him for his wrongs.
Matt’s pursuit of justice via learning to fight criminals physically makes him every bit a violent vigilantist. He also pursues fighting justice as he attends Harvard Law School in order to become a lawyer. Either way both are bloodthirsty professions. Miller’s comic also introduces the character Elektra, another gifted fighter that’s trained by Stick, the mysterious man who trained Matt. Elektra was deemed to psychotic and violent before she was cut loose. A potential bad influence and a potential romance adds another dimension to this story. The Elektra subplot can oftentimes come across as “been there, done that,” but it never becomes too overbearing either.
The artwork captures a lot of the various emotional states that the story runs through accurately, and the panels certainly add to the angst. Above all Matt’s pursuits feel very meaningful to him, and by association to the reader as well. The decisions he makes are not always right, but he does have to pay the consequences for them. This is a strong gritty origin story – it’s not the best – but it’s one that will certainly satisfy, and its the perfect place to start if this is a hero you wish to read more about.