Posted September 7, 2015 by Paul Ramos in Comics

MARK MARKS the MARKS – Tribute for Mark Waid’s DAREDEVIL Four-Year Run


Matthew “Matt” Murdock or better known as the Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, is considered as one of the best crime fighters in the superhero comic genre. The character is basically under the category of the Batman archetype of superheroes—essentially human, living under constant threats, and often dances with the devil in the pale moonlight. But unlike the Dark Knight, Matt is grounded to his socio-economic roots, particularly with the downtrodden and the economically challenged clients. And, he is Catholic (in contrast, Batman/Bruce Wayne is an atheist). The reason I say these random stuffs because Mark Waid, multi-awarded comic book writer and considered one of the best comic scribes ever, ends his four-year uninterrupted run of the Daredevil run (starting in 2011 and finishes with Daredevil #18). As he mentioned in the farewell page on that same issue, he has now the record of the longest uninterrupted Daredevil run ever, beating the bests like Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. To make this milestones more significant, Waid’s Daredevil brought home a couple of Eisner’s awards, including Best Writer and Best Single Issue. These moments are no walks in the park since the last time a supposedly B-list superhero comic won accolades amongst critics and readers since the runs of Bendis and Brubaker. And now, Waid, together with his partners-in-crime Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson, turns over the Daredevil mantle to rising stars Charles Soule (Letter 44, She-Hulk, Death of Wolverine event, and right now, Secret Wars tie-in Civil War) and Ron Garney (Men of Wrath).

If there is something admirable with Mark Waid on his Daredevil run is his total respect he has to the elements, substances, and essentials that defines the character itself, even the surrounding mythos that helps shaped and characterized Matt Murdock/Daredevil himself. If long-time readers attest here, many of the greatest confrontations Daredevil encounters are dealt with Wilson “The Kingpin” Fisk. Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker (who are considered as the top Daredevil writers ever) covered that one, with the brutality and devastation to both Matt and Wilson over and over. Waid fulfills this one either. However, the writer makes sure his own run stands out from the rest of the greatest by doing the so-called impossibility, Daredevil-Matt Murdock “smiles” as often as possible.

It is true that there are Frank Miller’s Daredevil stories where Matt smiled a couple of times, but most of the time, the character pushed to the emotional grinder over and over. This treatment is similar to the Brubaker’s run but the emotional rollercoaster the protagonist endured and the writer’s penchant for noir and crime suspense dominated the theme. But Bendis took Daredevil to another level, a level so depressing and menacing that arguably out-Miller altogether. In addition, Bendis’s Matt rarely smiled at all, and the writer twice ended his Daredevil runs rather bittersweet—Matt went to the maximum prison in issue no. 81 and later in the supposed swan song Daredevil: The Final Days, Bullseye killed Matt literally in the very first issue! Of course, Stan Lee’s initial run is considered a bit goofy but a decent read still. Ann Nocenti’s take may have some memorable Daredevil stories but her tenure was generally viewed as over-the-top that made the Daredevil outrageously pathetic and unbearable reads, paving the way for Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada to revamp and revitalize the character to its Frank Miller-roots of grittiness and street-level detective noir storytelling later on.


Waid on the other hand combines the elements of Silver Age-comic reading (i.e. positivity, sense of justice, goofiness, heroes-win-in-the-end, and righteousness) and the best legacies from the Miller-Bendis-Brubaker respective runs (read: noir, suspense and the gritty and underdog scenarios). Just observe most of the cover arts of Daredevil from 2011 up to the last one in 2015 and you already sense that Waid kidded you not. In hindsight, the writer faced a formidable task of revitalizing the title itself due to the previous run by Andy Diggle that marked the spiraling of the Man without Fear to negativity, if not abysmal reception. For examples, Daredevil killed Bullseye. Matt fully embraced the Hand in the hopes of turning the ancient cult inside out (but obviously, NOT). He even fought his former comrades that nearly destroyed Hell’s Kitchen. Simply put, many readers including yours truly had enough of this downward hellish grinder treatment on Matt’s already tragic and conflicting persona. It took Waid to have both critics and longtime and new readers to take notice once again on Daredevil and brought home some critical awards along the way, Eisner’s included. The storyteller’s love of Silver Age era sees Matt Murdock’s newfound optimism to the next level of comic superhero narrative. Many of the Chris Samnee cover arts (like the premier issue in 2011 and right now, issue #18) showcase the positive attitude and wackiness Waid and the rest of his creative team deliver to the readers, who are basically convinced once and for all, Daredevil can “smile”, is “smiling” and “happy” after all. Moreover, new characters are some of Waid’s legacies, such as Matt’s latest love and fellow law practitioner, Kirsten McDuffie, and the equally formidable antagonist, IKARI (he has “eyes”/“sights” to bout, alongside all of Murdock’s enhanced sensory powers and martial arts prowess). The writer also deals with some controversial or sensitive topics head first, like the marital abuse his beloved father supposedly committed against his mother in the Marvel mega-event Original Sin tie-in; his activist-nun-mother challenge against a multi-national (yet uncaring and exploitative) corporation; and child-abuse, which he garnered critical acclaims for his expertly deft handling of these issues in superhero comics. Additionally, he respects the character’s rogue gallery and he makes sure many of these antagonists, anti-heroes and/or villains make an appearance or two under his watch, particularly everyone’s favorite femme fatale, Elektra, and even a relatively unknown Stilt Man.


Overall, Mark Waid exceeds almost everyone’s expectations, including the writer himself. The famous adage, “what is new is old, and old is new”, rings true in the writer’s entire Daredevil series. Yes, Miller and Bendis’s respective takes remain the apexes of the blind crime fighter’s essential characterization and origins, but Waid’s version will surely become at least at par with the grandmasters’ interpretations. Waid revolutionizes the way Daredevil should be interpreted, revised, revitalized, and read at all. HE HITS HIGH HEAVENS!

Paul Ramos