Underrated: Daredevil: Know Fear

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event Daredevil: Know Fear

Daredevil is one of those characters that I’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t really delved into his history and stories on a consistent manner – the one miniseries I own is Daredevil: End Of Days, which is good, but probably not a solid indication as to what to expect when starting to get into the character. Indeed, most of my exposure to Daredevil probably comes from the Netflix TV show rather than the comics, and so I didn’t delve into this run for quite some time – it wasn’t until a couple of friends effectively forced me to read it that I finally did (and if you listen to Those Two Geeks, you’ll know Joe has been insisting I read this for awhile).

As I said, the Daredevil I’m most familiar with is the one from Netflix, and so for me this was a perfect starting point. No, I had no idea what came before – and it didn’t really matter – but the series, written by Chip Zdarsky, seems to be geared toward those more familiar with the live action series rather than with a deep knowledge of the character. Again, I could be wrong, and maybe the comics had been more closely aligned to what I’m familiar with before the first issue of Zdarsky’s run.

Know Fear, drawn by Marco Checcheto and coloured by Sunny Gho, finds Matt Murdock at one of the (many) low points in his life as he tries to get back into the hero game again after a near death experience. The first issue leads off with Daredevil struggling against three robbers, and sets up one of the driving plot points of the story as one of the robbers dies at the hospital – but how? And who could want to frame Daredevil for murder?

Zdarsky uses this run to take a look at the career of a hero as they bounce back from a traumatic accident, and through that lens we can see our own struggles to get back to where we want to be after suffering a setback or two. Of course, most of us don’t put on red tights and run around rooftops, but that’s neither here nor there when you look at the spiritual and emotional turmoil that Matt Murdock is going through – and that’s where Zdarsky’s able to relate the character to the audience so well. We’ve all struggled to pick ourselves back up, and we’ve all tried to do the best that we can in the face of overwhelming odds…

There’s a couple of key reasons why I wanted to highlight this volume today; the first is that it’s a very accessible volume for new readers coming from the Netflix show, like myself. Secondly, it’s a really introspective dive into a character that left me feeling as if I’d been reading Daredevil for years. Thirdly, it’s got a grim, dark sense to it that’s oddly beautiful in its way as Daredevil struggles to find himself amidst the chaos of his new life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got the next volume of this underrated gem to check out. Whether Zdarsky’s run on Daredevil will be held in the same esteem as Bendis, Nocenti and Miller, well only time will tell. But I bloody love it.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.