Daredevil, in his early years, felt a little bit like an also-ran, a character stuck in a world with brighter, more established characters. His first issue had both Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four on its cover, as if to impart to fans that sure, there were better books, but they might as well give this a shot. Five out of ten superheroes recommend.

He was a character doomed to hand-me-down villains, facing Electro in his second issue, and running afoul of a handful of other Spidey or Human Torch villains in the following months. Even his (eventual) archenemy was a Spider guy.

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Sure, there were early and constant DD nemeses: Purple Man, Stilt Man, the Owl, and the Gladiator all showed up right at the beginning, but these villains lacked one key thing: they had no uniting theme. Where Fantastic Four dealt with weird science and Amazing Spider-Man was racking up animal-themed villains month by month, Daredevil was up against disconnected nobodies, villains that could just as easily appear in other books as this one.

Marvel Comics

Every other book saw villains born from their heroes’ lives: Spidey knew Kurt Connors, the Lizard; the X-Men were up against fellow mutants. The first Avengers villain is somebody’s brother.

It seems obvious, now, that DD should be tied to organized crime: he’s a lawyer, after all. Shouldn’t his focus be something he can combat on both fronts? Ninjas notwithstanding, Daredevil’s best stories center on aspects of his life that pertain to no other superhero.

Bullseye at his most Joker-ish.Marvel Comics

Even as far as 1978 Daredevil continues to go up against grab bag of baddies. Sure, a lot of them are his baddies, villains who have, for whatever reason, decided they hated him more than, say, Captain America. But viewed in a collection like Daredevil Epic Collection: The Concrete Jungle, Daredevil’s conflicts seem to have no substantial purpose, no lasting effect. A dust up with the Beetle doesn’t lead to a subsequent conflict with Mister Hyde and Cobra. A cross-country trip to save Karen Page alongside Ghost Rider has zero repercussions on Matt’s home life (or his ongoing relationship with his most insufferable girlfriend, Heather Glenn). Foggy Nelson’s girlfriend is kidnapped, and Matt proceeds to do nothing about that for months.

The best issue in the book – the one that puts Daredevil closest to problems that should concern his legal half – is also its most ludicrous. #149 (by Marv Wolfman and Sal Buscema) features a drug addict, a lost child, and a mad bomber. For that one issue, DD comes up against the harsh realities of urban life that he should also be facing in the courtroom (minus, I suppose, the bombs).

It is also an issue that could just have easily been a Captain America story.

Or even a Ghost Rider one.Marvel Comics

These aren’t bad stories, by any means – the massive talent involved prevents any of these issues from being unexciting – but they highlight the problems that made Daredevil fall behind in sales and face near-cancellation. It reads as a very average comic book, with few ongoing concerns and extremely low stakes.

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In this article:daredevil, Marvel


“]] Daredevil’s conflicts seem to have no substantial purpose, no lasting effect.  Read More