It’s probably not what you think. Truth be told, I’ve only seen the first couple episodes of the acclaimed series. While I agree it’s fantastic, it wasn’t watching Charlie Cox dish out some brutal justice that won me over. It was the Comixology sale timed to match the release of the series that introduced me to the Man Without Fear.
Now, I wasn’t completely new to the character. In 2003, I watched Ben Affleck stare at a girl in the rain to an Evanescence song (or something). It wasn’t enough to drive me away from the character, but I didn’t seek out any of the comics that came before or after. Curiosity drove me when the Daredevil sale started and I picked up the first few issues of the 2011 Mark Waid run. I started reading and immediately bought a few more issues. It was incredible. Matt Murdock was such a captivating character and I was loving every panel of Paolo Rivera’s art.
I may have gone a little overboard at that point, but I couldn’t help myself. I bought all 36 issues of that run, as well as the first collection of Miller’s work and Brubaker’s work. In the two weeks since that purchase, I’ve been steadily making my way through the books in my Comixology library. I’ve been devouring them at every free moment, even bumping the current books in my pile to keep digging into the character’s past. Daredevil might be my new Batman.
There’s so much nuance to Matt Murdock that Bruce Wayne lacks. I’m not disparaging Batman at all; he’s long been my favorite character. But Daredevil’s backstory has the tragedy of Bruce Wayne with a much more human element. Matt was raised by his father, a poor boxer with no real future. ‘Battlin Jack’ Murdock instills in him the importance of an education and always getting back up when life beats you down. When he refuses to throw a fight rigged by his dirty manager, Jack is gunned down and leaves Matt alone in the world.
Arguably, the Waynes’ meet a similar fate, being gunned down in front of the young Bruce. However, the real tragedy in the case of Jack Murdock is that he was killed in a crime of his own making. The older boxer couldn’t get matches without going to a crooked manager and he needed matches to continue caring for Matt. He puts his ego aside and takes the dives he’s supposed to. His pride inevitably gets the better of him when his son comes to watch one of his fights. Jack wants to set an example, but he also wants his son to hear the crowd chanting his name. With that pride comes his father’s fall, paving the way for Matt to become a hero.
It’s moments like this that put the character into perspective. Matt doesn’t have the luxuries of Bruce Wayne. His family wasn’t rich and he didn’t have a butler to look after him as he coped with the loss. Instead, he persevered and continued law school, going on to become an esteemed lawyer in the state of New York on top of donning the costumed identity of Daredevil. There’s something about that origin that any reader can identify with, unlike the origin of a billionaire turned hero.
Daredevil has the moves of Batman, the rogues gallery of Batman, and even utilizes some of the fear that empowers Batman. If you were to paint the batsuit red and sand down the ears a bit, you would essentially have the Daredevil costume. But again, it’s the human elements that elevate Matt Murdock above that parallel. It’s the duality of his character, representing both sides of a justice system he genuinely believes in.
I’m not saying Batman is out. I’m only saying the Dark Knight will be making some room for the Man Without Fear on my shelves.