In the last part I looked at Geoff Johns’ Avengers, and this part is somewhat similar, in that the writer is also a big name for other projects, and the character is pretty popular.
In the early part of the 2000’s, Marvel launched their Marvel Knights line, which was headlined by Kevin Smith writing Daredevil, with art by Marvel Knights editor/comic artist/eventual Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, which saw Bullseye, Daredevil’s longtime enemy, kill Karen Page, Daredevil’s longtime girlfriend. Following their run was the hugely popular, highly acclaimed run by Brian Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, which saw Daredevil get married to a blind girl named Mila, Daredevil ‘dethroning’ the Kingpin and getting both Kingpin and Bullseye arrested. Oh, it also had Daredevil’s secret identity as blind attorney Matt Murdock revealed to the world. Following up their run would take something special, and maybe just as importantly, someone willing to pick up where Bendis left off, namely having Matt Murdock disbarred and placed in prison for being Daredevil.
Enter: Ed Brubaker. His first arc, ‘The Devil in Cell Block D’, is as good a Daredevil story as you can find.
The director of the FBI, who was responsible for the arrest and imprisonment of Daredevil, did so mostly for political gain. But when Daredevil is seen in Hell’s Kitchen while Matt Murdock is in prison, his case looks like isn’t going to last. He needs Murdock to be ‘taken care of’, so he makes sure that Murdock is placed into the general population, along with a hell of a lot of guys he either put in there, or helped put in there. Guys like Hammerhead, the Black Tarantula, the Owl, and Wilson Fisk- the Kingpin! And if that weren’t bad enough, he pulls strings to have Bullseye transferred to the prison.
With all of this going on, Matt is in serious danger. His best friend and law partner, Foggy Nelson, comes to visit him and update him on his case. When Matt is being escorted back to his cell, he hears (thanks to his super senses) every second when a gang takes out the guard escorting Foggy and Dakota North (a private investigator working with Foggy), and proceeds to beat them both up and then stab Foggy. Matt can hear as his best friend bleeds out, completely unable to do anything about it.
The next day, with the reports of the murder of Foggy Nelson on the front page of the paper, Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, decides to do something about what’s going on. He murders a pimp in front of a cop, then turns himself in. He ends up at Ryker’s, along with everyone else, and tries to keep Matt from becoming the next Punisher. When the riot I mentioned earlier goes off, it includes more than a few guys you really wouldn’t want to be there with you, especially psychos like Bullseye and the Punisher.
You get to see something nobody thought they’d really ever see when Murdock and the Kingpin have to fight side-by-side in their plan to escape (which both plan on screwing the other over on). Kingpin tries to bring Bullseye along, and that’s the last straw for Murdock. He makes sure neither of them are going to escape, and then isn’t really given an option when the Punisher grabs him and the two make a very public escape, with everyone seeing the Punisher using that poor blind lawyer as a human shield. Murdock makes sure to look helpless, which, along with the fact that there’s someone dressed like Daredevil running around while all of this is going on (it was Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist), really makes the fed’s case look like crap.
Believe it or not, I really haven’t spoiled much, even though I just spent forever talking about this story. I spoiled some plot points (well, most of them), but a hell of a lot goes on here. It’s completely worth picking up, even if you’re not much of a Daredevil fan.
I would also recommend Brubaker’s story that revamps an old villain from Daredevil’s rogue’s gallery: Mr. Fear. Brubaker makes Mr. Fear a scary bastard, and this story has some really huge moments that are still relevant in Daredevil today, but even more importantly, had a huge effect on the title and the character for a few years. This story also features the Gladiator running amok and murdering crowds of people, so there’s that, too.
Finally, I would also recommend Brubaker’s final two arcs, which feature the introduction of a new villain: Lady Bullseye, who sounds lame, but is actually quite badass and awesome, as well as Daredevil making a pact with the Kingpin in order to defeat a common foe… the finale is insane, and heavily, HEAVILY influenced the next writer’s run (which I will probably get to some day).