Netflix's new series "Daredevil" won't offer the most famous Daredevil story. But it will have elements of some very good Daredevil stories.
"Daredevil" premieres April 10 on Netflix, which will offer all 13 one-hour episodes at once. That's to encourage binge-watching, especially since Netflix has referred to the 13 shows as "one long movie." It will be followed by three more series, "A.K.A. Jessica Jones," "Luke Cage" and "The Defenders" (which will team up these characters, a la "Avengers").
And, yes, this series is based on the same Marvel Comics character as the movie that starred Ben Affleck. That "Daredevil" movie told the most famous DD story — the one with star-crossed lover Elektra (Jennifer Garner) — which is probably why the TV show is lifting from other "Man Without Fear" tales.
And what are those stories? I'm glad you asked.
Writer/editor Stan Lee (co-creator of most of the early Marvel Universe) and artist Bill Everett (creator of the Sub-Mariner) thought it would be a cool idea to have a handicapped superhero when they collaborated on "Daredevil" No. 1 in 1964. That first issue sketched out a brief origin, in which young Matt Murdock heroically pushes an old man out of the way of a truck carrying radioactive waste, and is struck by a can of the stuff, which blinds him — but heightens his remaining senses to superhuman levels, and gives him a "radar sense" that operates sort of like the echolocation of bats.
Matt grows up with his father, boxer "Battlin'" Jack Murdock, who is murdered by criminals for refusing to throw a fight. Murdock senior pushed Matt to study and become a lawyer, to avoid his own ignominious career, and so he does, despite taunts of "daredevil" at school for his bookish ways. He graduates with best friend Franklin "Foggy" Nelson, opens a law office with him, and hires would-be actress Karen Page as secretary. Oh, and he trains secretly in boxing and martial arts. That gives him the skills necessary to don a garish concoction of red and yellow boxing gear — well, he is blind — and take down his father's killers.
Netflix's "Daredevil" takes place in the early years described by that first issue, so in addition to Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox), we'll meet Foggy (Eldon Henson), Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) and Battlin' Jack (John Patrick Hayden). And if you want to read that debut book for yourself, it's available in a variety of reprints, including "Marvel Masterworks: Daredevil Volume One" and "Essential Daredevil Volume One." As a bonus, both of those volumes contain "Daredevil" No. 7, a story in which DD switched to his more familiar red outfit, and in which he battled the far stronger Sub-Mariner — all drawn by the legendary Wally Wood. It's still considered a classic.
Marvel revealed more of Daredevil's early life in subsequent years, and Netflix will pilfer some of that as well. Here are two books containing the bulk of that information:
"Daredevil: The Man Without Fear" collects the miniseries of the same name, written by Frank Miller ("300," "Sin City") and drawn by John Romita Jr. ("Uncanny X-Men," "Superman"). It is the definitive origin of Daredevil, detailing the forces in his early life and college years that produced a lawyer who follows the law by day and a vigilante who routinely breaks it by night.
"Daredevil: Yellow" collects a miniseries written by Jeph Loeb (now a major player in Marvel Films) and drawn by Tim Sale ("Superman for All Seasons," "Batman: The Long Halloween"). It weaves in and out of the story in "Daredevil" No. 1, adding depth and detail.