In New York's Hell's Kitchen, which happens to be a district in Manhattan, young Matt Murdock lives in an apartment with his father Jack Murdock. Jack does what he has to in order to put food on the table, and Matt is forced to deal with school yard bullies. Later tragedy would strike twice as Matt is injured and changed for the rest of his life, plus his father angers a mafia boss. -summary
It's already a proven fact that a majority of the time when writer Frank Miller touches the series of a comic character with a dark origin and potential for the dramatic, the story usually ends up either being hailed as a masterpiece or something quite close. His earlier worksBatman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Batman Year One (1987) revitalized the character, and his influence on the character continues to be felt up to this day. Ironically, before he touched the Dark Knight, he completely re-invented Daredevil back in the late 70's early 80's, by removing him from that campy superhero light into the grittier, noir atmosphere dealing with mafia crime bosses. In 1993, he returned to Daredevil's origin with The Man Without Fear. The story isn't a reboot or an alternate tale, instead it's an expanded retelling of the character. This graphic novel collects the five issue mini-series.
Miller resorts to the formula that initially worked in Batman: Year One. He removes that superhero element and goes for a more realistic narrative. The story in the beginning follows Jack Murdock as he continues his career as a boxer, and on the side as hired muscle for a mafia boss by the name of Fixer. He hates what he does and it nags at his conscience; to bring himself some type of peace, he reminds himself that this is for his son, with the addition of a good ole' bottle. Matt is also very well developed and doesn't follow the typical route of a defenseless kid who is bullied because he's weak. Unlike many characters of this mold, young Matt actually wants to do something about it. Matt is also depicted as a young hero in the making as he saves someone's life, and as a result, his vision is lost due to radioactive chemicals. However, he receives the gift along with the curse, as the chemicals greatly enhance his other senses such as hearing and smell. The story begins to be even more intriguing, when Matt encounters a man by the name of Stick, who trains him in developing his other senses turning him into a weapon. The character development is very strong making most of the characters into believable people. Although several characters will make appearances to compete with Matt for the spotlight, such as Elektra and Kingpin, Matt still remains the most interesting among them.
The story moves at a pretty good pace and has many good moments. One of the things I enjoy about it the most is that it doesn't feel like a superhero tale. Once Matt learns of his father's situation, he doesn't don a suit and spew heroic lines of dialog; his intention is vengeance and nothing more. He delivers street justice in average clothes, which I think brings out the reality in the story. There's obvious influence in this story from Miller's earlier, darker works, and it succeeds here because Daredevil is that type of character for it.
Although I feel this is a very gripping story that's strong on atmosphere. It definitely has its flaws for me with Elektra being one of them. I see where she's developed in ways, and she also helps with Matt's character. However, there's times I find the supposed symbolism with this character as mere window-dressing, as she comes off as an excuse for fan boys to drool over. It's also pretty rough to determine how much time passes by exactly. In one segment Matt appears to be maybe 10 years old, and the only info you're given is, "weeks go by, months go by" etc. It's pretty difficult to determine what could possibly be Matt's age during all of this. I feel it was necessary to explain this, because it hurt the flow of the story in some ways for me.
Visually, the artwork by John Romita Jr. is excellent. The action panels are very entertaining and they have some very brutal moments, with guys taking big punches to the jaw and bullets to the head. The action follows Matt very well by letting the reader see how his powers work. There's also some very good detail in facial features. Miller does a splendid job with dialog that matches with the mood, and Miller's approach towards subtle description will key the reader in on Matt's crippling weakness without going into heavy detail. His narrative can appear wordy at times, but at least it's wordy for the right reasons.
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear could have made an excellent reboot story if necessary. It works out well expanding on his origin describing what the character is about. This is an excellent place to begin for new readers, and it's universal in regards to fans that this is amongst the best stories in the Daredevil mythos. This is one of those book that belongs in every comic fans collection.
Pros: -Very good characterization and engaging narrative, artwork
Most people are familiar with the name Frank Miller. A vast majority would recognize his name with the movie/graphic novel “Sin City”, some would see him as the writer of the graphic novel “300” and most recently he has made his less than impressive directorial debut with “The Spirit”. His recent success with the comic book mini-series “All Star Batman and Robin” have once again caused him to be noticed by comic fandom. Miller’s … more
Frank Miller's lesser known and yet so amazingly gritty re-issue of the origins of everyone's favorite hornhead; this happens before he dons the scarlet costume. It goes into the relationship between Matt and Jack Murdock, his love affair with a young woman named Elektra in college and the very first time he took matters into his own hands. Not for kids, and more violent than your usual Daredevil issues, this goes into the darker side of Manhattan, its crime element … more
(excerpt from Wikipedia's Daredevil page) Frank Miller returned to the character and his origins with the 1993 five issue Daredevil: The Man Without Fear mini-series. With artist John Romita Jr, Miller expanded upon the character's beginnings and provided additional detail about the life and death of "Battling Jack" Murdock and Matt's first encounters with the Kingpin and Foggy Nelson. The role of Stick in the genesis of Daredevil was expanded, as was Murdock's doomed love affair with Elektra Natchios, the daughter of a Greek diplomat.
A fire burns deep within Matt Murdock. He was raised by a single father, an over-the-hill prizefighter with one last chance to make it good - a chance that cost him his life! Taunted and tormented by children while growing up, Matt's life was irrevocably altered after he was blinded by radioactive materials while saving the life of an old man. The payoff? An unbreakable will and a keen intelligence, helping focus the super-senses he was blessed with during the accident. His story is one of love, pain, disappointment, and strength. Witness the tour-de-force origin of the Man Without Fear by industry legends Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. Collects Daredevil: The Man Without Fear #1-5.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.