Comic Name: Daredevil (Volume 2)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Kevin Smith
Artist: Joe Quesada
# of Issues: 8
Release Date: 1999
Reprints Daredevil (2) #1-8 (November 1998-June 1999). Matt Murdock is a man of faith. Not only does he believe he is guided by God while working as an attorney but he is also guided from above as Daredevil: The Man without Fear! When a woman comes to Matt claiming to know his secret identity and harboring a baby she says is from divine intervention, Matt must question if it could be true. When another man appears and tells Matt that the baby is the Devil’s spawn, Matt finds himself at an identity crisis. Add in the return of Matt’s former love Karen Page with shocking news, and Matt finds himself at a crossroads…and questioning his own sanity.
Written by Kevin Smith, Daredevil: Guardian Devil was Smith’s first foray into superhero comics. With illustrations by Joe Quesada, the series relaunched the Daredevil title (under the Marvel Knights imprint) and has been collected in multiple formats (sometimes also including Daredevil (2) #0 and Daredevil (2) #1/2).
Daredevil was always a second tier Marvel character. Despite this, many felt he had more potential than many A-Level stars. This is probably true. His character is tormented by faith and the legal system, and Matt Murdock is constantly not only fighting criminals, but his own sanity. Kevin Smith helped catapult Daredevil into being a A-Level superhero…for better or worse, Daredevil: Guardian Devil put Daredevil on the map.
Daredevil already saw an immense change in his perception during the Frank Miller period. I will by no means argue that this is better than Miller’s entire run, but due to Kevin Smith’s status, the comic got attention. That was beneficial. Smith’s writing style however ranges from good to bad within the path of the story.
Faith has always been a big part of Daredevil’s character. In the story, Matt Murdock’s faith is played upon and manipulated. While this in itself isn’t a bad concept, it is how Kevin Smith does it that fails. The villain is revealed to be a dying Mysterio who wanted a “big finale” to his life…the work that Mysterio puts into manipulating Murdock (who he knows is Daredevil) doesn’t seem realistic or possible. I have always found Mysterio a rather unrealistic villain (he has to set-up his crimes and special effects before hand), but he is even more unrealistic here by predicting Matt’s action (and Daredevil has never been predictable…a reason that Bullseye generally can’t defeat him).
The collateral damage in the story is poor Karen Page who is killed by Bullseye…it seems rather unceremonious and unnecessary to “get revenge” on Daredevil. Mysterio has always just been a thief or generic criminal and to resort to this level seems unlikely in his character…and Karen Page just becomes another damsel in distress that pays the price.
This series springboarded Daredevil into Brian Michael Bendis’ run which really revolutionized the character and helped set up years and years of storylines. I’m not always a Bendis fan, but his Daredevil was very good. The series also led to the ill-fated Ben Affleck Daredevil (which had Kevin Smith cameoing)…so not everything that came out of this run was good. Regardless, Daredevil became a much more known character through Kevin Smith’s run and you could argue that as a result we have a rather entertaining Daredevil series on Netflix as a result. Daredevil: Guardian Devil was followed by Daredevil: Parts of a Hole.