Marvel got really lucky with its Netflix universe. “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” received rave reviews, and while “Iron Fist” may be regarded as a misstep, the Netflix series have proven to be some of the best hours of television that Marvel has ever produced. But the Netflix universe wouldn’t exist without its own Guardian Devil. “Daredevil” delivered on almost every level with stellar fight choreography, brilliant acting and a rich narrative that made the slow burn to the costume reveal worth the wait.
We’re now getting ready for season 3 of “Daredevil,” recently confirmed to start filming soon, and the wait couldn’t feel longer. With that in mind, here are 8 “Daredevil” comics that Marvel should consider adapting, and 7 they should avoid altogether. (Where’s “Born Again” on the list, you ask? We left it off, because everyone agrees “Born Again” should absolutely be adapted.)
15. ADAPT: AMERICAN DREAMER
Jack Hazzard was a soldier who underwent an experimental procedure that allowed him to inflict a heart attack in anyone he touched, but the procedure also affected his brain and made him emotionally unstable. Now back in Hell’s Kitchen, the Nuke incident four months earlier has caused him to suffer a breakdown. Natasha Romanov, The Black Widow, has been assigned with tracking down and killing Hazzard, and reluctantly she accepts the help of her former lover, Daredevil. But everyone has an ulterior motive for their actions, and that includes Natasha.
“American Dreamer” is incredibly dark, incredibly poignant and ties directly into Nuke’s rampage from “Born Again.” Hazzard is a terrifying yet sympathetic character, suffering from waking dreams and mourning the loss of his own American Dream. But the most striking moment of the issue hangs on Natasha’s actions. Knowing Hazzard was fearfully religious, she brings Matt along knowing the effect his Daredevil costume will have on Hazzard. Why does Matt dress like the devil? It’s a question that hasn’t been deeply explored on “Daredevil,” and “American Dreamer” leaves the question hanging for readers to decide.
14. AVOID: UNDER THE KNIFE/EMERGENCY PROTOCOL
The crossovers with the Marvel Universe has long provided a number of entertaining stories in the pages of “Daredevil,” and the upcoming miniseries “The Defenders” looks to continue this tradition. Out of all the characters, for ol’ Hornhead to cross over with, Spider-Man is easily one of the more common, to the point that there are already fans whispering about the possibility of Daredevil showing up in some capacity in a Spider-Man film. If Marvel is smart, though, they’ll avoid this 1992 crossover featuring a one-off villain, The Surgeon General.
The Surgeon General, aka Angeline Kutter, is a serial murderer who steals organs from her victims. Daredevil enlists Spider-Man to help draw her out of hiding by having Peter go undercover in a club, including an awful disguise mustache. The story, awkward and generic on most levels, is a strange anomaly in an otherwise excellent run of “Daredevil” books, and it’s certainly in Marvel’s best interests to avoid adapting generic supervillain stories from Daredevil’s past.
13. ADAPT: GUARDIAN DEVIL
Kevin Smith’s career in comics has been rife with controversy, and his run on “Daredevil” is no exception. The premiere storyline of the 1999 “Marvel Knights” relaunch, “Guardian Devil” saw Matt tasked with caring for a baby who may be either the anti-christ or a reborn savior. Of course, neither of these things is true; it’s a ruse by Mysterio, who Matt had a one-off encounter with several years earlier. Matt perseveres, but loses everything in the process: his on again/off again girlfriend Karen Page is dead, Foggy Nelson loses his job and his girlfriend, and Matt quits his own job in protest.
Critically lauded at the time, the story ran among internal controversy (“Spider-Man” editors who loaned Mysterio for the story weren’t aware of the plan to kill him), while fans have soured on Karen’s sudden, shock value HIV diagnosis (later revealed to be another Mysterio hoax) and subsequent death in recent years. While some of the story’s more fantastic elements may not translate well, the base plot of Daredevil fighting an unknown force against insurmountable odds is a classic “Daredevil” story through and through.
12. AVOID: THERE SHALL COME A GLADIATOR
Foggy Nelson is really great on Marvel’s “Daredevil.” So is Matt Gerald’s Melvin Potts. What we don’t need is to see them fighting. Stemming from the Spider-Man mix-up that led to Mike Murdock down the road, Foggy briefly convinced Karen Page that he was Daredevil. To drive home the ruse, he had a local costume maker, Potts, make him a Daredevil suit he could wear. Potts offered to stage a fake fight to help sell it to Karen. However, Potts plays for keeps and Matt winds up having to bail Foggy out.
It’s a fine story, but the image of the shorter, portlier Foggy running around in a Daredevil uniform is one that needs to stay in the comics. The story was fine in the ’60s when “Daredevil” played more like a whimsical adventure comic than its modern era, gritty crime roots. Fortunately, with the more serious portrayal of both Foggy and Potts in “Daredevil,” this isn’t likely to happen.
11. ADAPT: GUTS
There’s a lot of love for Elden Henson’s portrayal of Foggy Nelson. Matt’s long-time, long-suffering best friend, Foggy ended Season 2 of “Daredevil” on the outs with Matt over his vigilante activities. If their history in the comics is any indication, it’s likely only a matter of time before the two patch up, but a story like “Guts” would go a long way to setting up such a reunion.
Set a mere four issues after the death of Elektra, “Guts” is narrated entirely by Foggy. Matt’s then-girlfriend Heather Glenn learns that her company is making bombs, but can’t figure out who they’re for. Fearing Matt would dismiss her, she turns to Foggy for help but neither realizes that Matt overheard them with his enhanced hearing. Adopting the pseudonym Guts Nelson, Foggy wanders into the criminal underworld, poking in all the wrong corners and eventually coming face to face with The Kingpin. Throughout this adventure, Daredevil only appears in the periphery, helping Foggy as his unseen Guardian Devil. “Guts” is a wonderful character piece, and exactly the kind of development Foggy is missing on “Daredevil.”
10. AVOID: SHADOWLAND
On the surface, “Shadowland” seems like the perfect fodder for Netflix. Not only is it an epic event starring Daredevil and The Hand, it’s already got Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist prominently featured in its finale. The problem is “Shadowland” just isn’t very good, so far as Daredevil stories go. The story is contrived and seems to fuel itself on the shock value of seeing Daredevil turn to the dark side.
Meant to serve as a soft reboot, “Shadowland” picked up on a thread from the “Daredevil” ongoing, featuring Matt as the leader of The Hand. Unfortunately, Matt is also possessed by an actual devil, The Beast, and goes on a violent tear through Hell’s Kitchen, including killing Bullseye. Matt is saved by Iron Fist and ultimately takes his own life to prevent The Beast from reasserting control. The “Daredevil” ongoing series would continue with Black Panther in the lead, while Matt would be resurrected by The Hand and briefly wander the mid-west to rediscover himself. As crossovers go, “Shadowland” wasn’t terrible, but it’s the kind of event driven, melodramatic storytelling that the Netflix series need to avoid.
9. ADAPT: LAST RITES
While “Born Again” is lauded for taking Daredevil to his lowest point and redefining him for the next generation of fans, its excellent follow-up “Last Rites” remains tragically overlooked. Several years after the events of “Born Again,” Matt is tricked by S.H.I.E.L.D. into being a whistleblower with the hope that he’ll open up the door for Fury’s team to shut down Hydra. Murdock takes advantage to shut down The Kingpin the only way he knows how: legally.
“Last Rites” set up numerous story arcs for the future of Daredevil, including a tryst with the villainous Typhoid Mary, which ends with Matt having her committed to an asylum. t the same time, Wilson Fick’s criminal empire falls around him and leaves him in the same state he left Matt in during “Born Again, while Matt’s lawyer’s license is at long last restored. While Fisk manages to evade justice, the story sees him brought to his absolute lowest point. Fisk and Daredevil would continue to feud off and on over the decade, but “Last Rites” brings a well-deserved sense of finality to the story that began in “Born Again.”
8. AVOID: GREASE MONKEYS
A mobster who made a living stealing used grease from restaurants has died and left behind half a million dollars in stolen grease. Stilt-Man, The Taskmaster and a number of lowlife thugs are in pursuit of this greasy fortune, and Daredevil manages to foil the robbery attempts. It’s a goofy, ridiculous single issue story. By the admission of even the cover, it’s a bit of a gag issue before the series took another dark turn in “Fall From Grace” the next month.
It’s entertaining enough to see the interactions here. Daredevil having scraps with the likes of Stilt-Man and Taskmaster makes for a fun enough story, with decent action sequences, but the whole thing is played up for laughs. At the time, “Daredevil” was still making its name as a gritty, dark crime drama book. Much the way this issue feels out of place in this run, the idea of such a story happening in Marvel’s Netflix universe is almost unthinkable.
7. ADAPT: OUT
A random thug who worked with Kingpin tries to get protection from the FBI by bartering the only knowledge he has: Matt Murdock is Daredevil. The FBI passes on the knowledge; it doesn’t pertain to their case, and Daredevil has only ever helped them, so it’s not in their interest. But the next morning, the tabloid headline reads DAREDEVIL’S SECRET IDENTITY REVEALED.
“Out” was a huge turning point for Daredevil as Matt’s identity was leaked to the public. Breaking Matt in brand new ways, his relationship with the superhero community and his relationships as Matt Murdock would endure new strains as he fought like hell to preserve his secret identity. Everything in Matt’s life was up for grabs: just coming clean meant being disbarred and thrown in jail for tampering with crimes. With its high drama and exploration of the importance of Matt and Daredevil’s shared existence, “Out” is the perfect template for a season-long “Daredevil” story.
6. AVOID: FALL FROM GRACE
To its credit, Marvel wasn’t afraid to take chances and shake up the status quo of its characters in the mid-90s. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out very well for Daredevil. In “Fall From Grace,” The Hand attempt to release a virus on New York City. Matt contends with a devil, Hellspawn, who vaguely resembles him, a bevy of Hand ninjas and two resurrected Elektras: one her pure side and one her evil side.
“Fall From Grace” seems to have largely been written solely to sell Daredevil’s new armored suit, a design infamous today by its awfulness. The story itself is confusing and muddled. It suffers from a classic ’90s problem of spotlighting too many characters, with appearances from Venom, Morbius the Living Vampire, Silver Sable and even S.H.I.E.L.D. agent John Garrett. The story also attempts to set up a new direction for the series: when Hellspawn dies, his body reverts to a shape that resembles Murdock. Daredevil takes the opportunity to fake his own death and assume a new identity, but the new direction is short-lived, with Matt returning to his old life less than two years later.
5. ADAPT: ROULETTE
While Bullseye has yet to be introduced in “Daredevil,” the master assassin’s most infamous moment is easily his execution of Elektra in “Daredevil” #181. But 10 issues later, another Bullseye classic takes place, although he has no dialog or even action. In “Roulette,” Bullseye remains paralyzed and unable to speak after being dropped off a rooftop by Daredevil. Matt turns up at the hospital with a revolver and begins playing Russian Roulette with Bullseye as he relates the story of Chuckie.
Chuckie was a young boy who idolized Daredevil, and Matt seemed to revel in the hero worship. But Chuckie witnessed his father run afoul of Daredevil and was left mentally broken as a result. The story, told slowly through flashback by Daredevil via narrative boxes, is a gripping tale. The highlighted framing device of the Russian Roulette game adds a level of unmistakable tension, and the imagery is absolutely something the Netflix series could take advantage of. Best of all, even as the story hints at a darker side of Murdock, “Roulette” still ends on a somber note: Daredevil’s gun had no bullets.
4. AVOID: MIKE MURDOCK
In “Daredevil” #24, Spider-Man sends Matt Murdock a letter confessing he knows Matt is Daredevil, and promising to keep his secret. Problem is, Karen Page and Foggy Nelson read the letter first. In perhaps the stupidest idea ever concocted, Matt tells Karen and Foggy it’s a case of mistaken identity. Spidey is referring to Matt’s twin brother, Mike! Matt carries on the charade for some time, with the story being that Mike, always a loner and an adventurer, has been Daredevil all along.
Matt kept the ruse up for about a year and a half. Beginning to lose himself to the Mike Murdock identity and not sure whose life he should continue to lead, Matt ultimately takes the opportunity to fake Mike Murdock’s death in “Daredevil” #41 by leaving a scrap of his costume at the scene of an explosion. Matt goes about a normal life right up until the following month, when he has to save face in front of supervillain, The Jester, and claims that Mike trained some random, anonymous person to replace him as Daredevil. Perhaps not surprising for “Daredevil” stories of the era, Foggy and Karen buy it and the series goes back to the status quo.
3. ADAPT: BLIND ALLEY
Perhaps more than any other hero, Daredevil’s greatest super power seems to be his ability to take a beating. The Netflix series has already captured this greatly, with Daredevil never really having an easy fight and putting up a struggle against even the simplest of opponents. But it’s been done to death on the show, so how do you ramp up the drama and highlight Daredevil’s unbreakable will? Easy: you have an Avenger cameo.
In “Blind Alley,” Murdock picks up the distinct heartbeat of The Hulk, who is tearing through Manhattan trying to find Bruce Banner. Murdock is able to calm down Hulk and help Banner, but Hulk re-emerges before he can escape the city. As Daredevil, Murdock steps in again and doesn’t so much fight the Hulk as he does endure the beating of his life until the Hulk finally decides to leave. “Blind Alley” has a fairly simple and straight-forward plot, but as a character piece, it drives home Matt’s unbreakable resolve to great effect.
2. AVOID: KAREN PAGE’S DEATH
When Karen Page gave her life to save Matt from Bullseye in “Daredevil” (Vol. 2) #5, it was a huge deal. Karen’s death was one of the most talked about deaths of 1999 and came after a shock reveal that she was HIV Positive. Karen had a long, tumultuous presence in the Daredevil comics, and hadn’t regularly appeared in some time when she died, but nonetheless, it was a huge deal that shaped Matt’s actions for the remainder of the story, “Guardian Devil.”
But Karen’s death makes the list because of the precedent, and not the story itself. Already killing Elektra in season 2, it is absolutely in the best interest of Marvel’s Netflix universe that it doesn’t adapt Matt’s woefully defining trait: dead girlfriends. While not quite as egregious as Kyle Rayner finding Alexandra DeWitt stuffed in a fridge in “Green Lantern,” Matt’s lovers have a tendency to end up worse off than when they met him. Milla Donovan was driven insane and committed. Heather Glenn hung herself. Glorianna O’Breen was tossed out a window after being gone from the book for years. Netflix could stand to avoid this trope and let Karen be happy for the time being.
1. ADAPT: 34 HOURS
For a character known for his bleak and unforgiving characterization, Daredevil’s best stories tend to be about the uplifting elements of human nature. To that end, “34 Hours” may be one of the best self-contained stories that Netflix could adapt. Set over the course of a 34 hour period in New York, “34 Hours” follows Daredevil in a slice of life story. There’s no big supervillain, no dramatic plot. Daredevil patrols the city, saving everyday, average civilians from everyday problems. The result is a more intimate look into Daredevil than we typically get.
Amid the hustle and bustle of seasons 1 and 2, Matt as a crime fighting vigilante isn’t really something we’ve gotten a good look at. Sure, we’ve seen him break up trafficking rings and season 2 opened with Matt investigating cartels, but these were all part of the grander scheme of the season’s arc. The quiet pace and simple nature of “34 Hours” could provide a much-needed levity among the dark and bleak world of “Daredevil,” as well as opening up viewers to a new look at Matt Murdock’s war on crime.
Which Daredevil stories do you think should be adapted (or avoided) for TV? Let us know in the comments!
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