You Need to Read Daredevil: Born Again

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It's Time For You to Read Daredevil: Born Again

Daredevil by David Mazzucchelli and Christie Scheele
Daredevil by David Mazzucchelli and Christie Scheele. Marvel Comics

Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, is more popular than ever before thanks to his excellent Marvel Netflix series. The Man Without Fear, who was created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, has always been one of Marvel's big names, but his live action show has really boosted interest in the hero from Hell's Kitchen. Sure, Daredevil appeared on the big screen back in 2003, but that film didn't make nearly the same kind of impact as the Netflix show, which takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

People want to know what Daredevil comics they should read. It's easy to recommend entire runs (like Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's work), but not everyone can get their hands on that many comics. So, if you're working with a tight budget or you just want to read one story, I'm here to tell you it should be Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's 1986 story Born Again (Daredevil #227-233).

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The Kingpin's Cruel Plan

Kingpin by David Mazzucchelli and R. Lewis
Kingpin by David Mazzucchelli and R. Lewis. Marvel Comics

Daredevil and Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, have had some pretty brutal slugfests over the years. While the hero and villain do trade some harsh blows in this story, the war Kingpin wages against the Marvel hero is, for the most part, a psychological one. The story revolves around the criminal mastermind finally learning Daredevil's true identity. But he doesn't act swiftly. He doesn't personally go out and attempt to murder Murdock. He doesn't even send anyone else to do it. Instead, he takes steps to make sure Matt's life is a living hell. He strips Murdock of his career, reputation, money, and eventually, his home. Thanks to his vast power and connections, Kingpin systematically tears apart Matt Murdock's life without even laying a finger on him. Before putting an end to Murdock's life, Kingpin wants to make him suffer as much as possible. He wants to destroy the man who has caused him so much trouble, and he has the intelligence to realize he can't be sloppy enough to eventually do it with his own two hands. There's a lot of key players in this story, but pretty much all of it revolves around Kingpin and Daredevil's dynamic.

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The Fall and Rise of Ben Urich & Karen Page

Ben Urich and J. Jonah Jameson by David Mazzucchelli and Max Scheele
Ben Urich and J. Jonah Jameson by David Mazzucchelli and Max Scheele. Marvel Comics

First and foremost, this is a story about Kingpin trying to break Matt Murdock. But the hero isn't the only character in this story who needs to rise up against frightening opposition. Daredevil's ex-girlfriend, Karen Page, is at an all-time low. She's the reason Kingpin knows Matt Murdock is the agile hero who's been opposing him. She gave up Daredevil's identity just so she could get another shot of heroin; that's how far she's fallen. Realizing what her life has become, she desperately wants to return to Matt. Life has been extremely cruel to her, so her desire to go back to Matt - a person who can make her feel safe, both emotionally and physically - is completely understandable. A lot of horrible things happen in this story, but out of the primary characters, I'd say she has the most terrifying arc. Still, she and Matt are able to finally find comfort in each other and eventually rise together.

Miller also gives reporter Ben Urich a memorable story that's full of tension and shows what it's like for an "ordinary" person to step into this ridiculously dangerous story. Just like any other good reporter out there, Ben wants to tell the world about what's really going on and shove the truly evil people right into the spotlight. While Ben's heart is in the right place, he's quickly hit by the reality of his situation. He has the power to tell the truth, but in doing so, it puts his life on the line. Would you be willing to sacrifice your own life - or put someone you love in danger - to make sure a terrible person's actions don't go unpunished? 

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The Debut of Frank Simpson, a.k.a. Nuke

Daredevil vs. Nuke by David Mazzucchelli and Max Scheele
Daredevil vs. Nuke by David Mazzucchelli and Max Scheele. Marvel Comics

If you've seen Marvel and Netflix's Jessica Jones series, you're familiar with a guy named Frank Simpson. The small screen version of him is quite different from the one that appears in the comics, though. He's still a soldier who takes a red pill for an adrenaline rush and then a blue one to level him out (and he needs white pills while he's between missions), but the comic book version - who makes his first appearance in this story - is an unhinged and violent dude. Physically enhanced and driven purely by blind patriotism, Frank Simpson, a.k.a. Nuke, will kill anyone he views as a threat to the United States without hesitating for even a second. Miller is quick to show just how many lives this guy is capable of taking.

Daredevil faces emotional, psychological, and physical struggles throughout the whole story. The Kingpin will stop at nothing to make sure Murdock is tormented and then eliminated. Saying Born Again is a "rough ride" for Daredevil would be an enormous understatement. Then when it seems like things couldn't get any worse, Nuke enters the picture and brings savage chaos to Hell's Kitchen. Suddenly, war erupts in the neighborhood and no one is safe. Nuke may be the one pulling the trigger, but the blood is on Kingpin's hands. Nuke's violent and dark role further tests Daredevil's drive and capabilities as a hero while also showing the messed up lengths Kingpin will go to take out Murdock. It's really gripping stuff and the conflict brings in a few familiar faces.

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What Are You Waiting For? Go Read It!

Daredevil by David Mazzucchelli and Max Scheele
Daredevil by David Mazzucchelli and Max Scheele. Marvel Comics

Before Miller and Mazzucchelli gave the definitive Batman origin story in 1987 (Batman: Year One), the duo created an unforgettable story about the Man Without Fear. Miller's dialogue is engaging; the script pulls you right into Marvel's especially gritty version of New York and breathes life into these fictional characters. Mazzucchelli's art is just as incredible. The artist successfully makes New York a character of its own and gives the cast compelling reactions; it all looks so good and the action is handled exceptionally well. 

Born Again is a story that'll show you Daredevil's strength, the Kingpin's twisted brilliance, Ben Urich's courage, and Karen Page's recovery. For the new readers out there, you'll be happy to know there's also a good amount of insight into Daredevil's origin story. Instead of simply giving a quick and basic recap of what happened back when Matt was a kid, Miller's dialogue makes it far more relatable. You're really missing out an essential Daredevil story if you pass on this one.