Daredevil is different from most Marvel and DC superheroes, in that, for the most part, there is a recommended order to reading his stories.
A blind vigilante who functions as a lawyer by a day is a really good concept. It’s been the focus of three of the strongest Marvel creative team runs since the Quesada era began, with Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, followed by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, and now Mark Waid and company.
This will be split into two sections: Classic and Modern. Today I’ll cover the classic, which features the basis for the modern era.
The obvious place to start is Frank Miller’s Elektra saga from Daredevil #168-182. This is simply the perfect introduction to the characters, and it will be referenced in subsequent runs. These fifteen issues introduced Elektra, and turned the Kingpin from a Spider-Man villain into one of Daredevil’s greatest foes.
There are also a handful of comics from the Silver Age that matter. Daredevil #7 is the best story from Stan Lee and Wally Wood’s brief run on the series. It shows one of the things that makes Marvel unique, when Daredevil is pit against the much stronger Namor, and Lee doesn’t even pretend that a glorified acrobat has a shot against someone who has actual superpowers. It’s been the basis for many subsequent stories in which a hero is hopelessly outclassed. Fantastic Four #39-40 is considered a highlight of the Lee/ Kirby Fantastic Four run, and it’s a strong guest-starr appearance, and the first of several surprisingly numerous encounters between Daredevil and Doctor Doom. Amazing Spider-Man #16 is the first meeting of Spider-Man and Daredevil, which will also be important in later runs. It also works quite well as an introduction to Matt Murdoch and his supporting cast.
After this, it’s best to get the rest of Miller’s Daredevil stories. Here, the order doesn’t quite matter.
He started his run as an artist for writer Roget McKenzie. Due to his intimate familiarity with the material, he referenced it throughout his run as writer. It was covered in Daredevil #158-167. Daredevil #183-191 was the conclusion of his initial run, and tied up some loose ends from the series, as the man without fear fought the Punisher, and his battles with ninjas came to a head.
Daredevil #227-233 “Born Again” is probably the best Marvel comic ever. Frank Miller returned to the series with artist David Mazzuchelli to show what happened when one of the nastiest people in the world learned Matt Murdoch’s secret identity, and worked to destroy his life. I’m unaware of any other superhero having this many troubles, and still finding a way to triumph. It also has my favorite scene form any comic book, as the Kingpin gets some unwelcome news after he believes that he has permanently defeated his archenemy.
Daredevil: Man Without Fear by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. gives you the origin, showing how he may be the unluckiest superhero of all, as the accident that gave him his powers came at a terrible cost. And then things get worse. The story features Elektra as a borderline insane college student, and brings Matt Murdoch to the attention of the Kingpin.
A guest-starr appearance in Peter David’s 1980 Spider-Man’s run is also notable. In “The Death of Jean Dewolfe” from Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110, the Man Without Fear and the Wall-crawler have a difference of opinions regarding the civil rights of a serial killer who had targets within their social circle. It features a memorable clash between Daredevil and a punch-drunk Spider-Man, as well as some developments that shape their relationship for decades to come.