Comic History 101: Daredevil: Guardian Devil

Marvel had just gone through one of the biggest disasters in the company’s history, due to a series of atrocious business decisions from the owners and board of directors the company had filed for chapter eleven bankruptcy. A combined effort from all corners of the comic book industry had managed to prop Marvel back up onto its feet but things would have to change. Joe Quesada, the soon to be Editor-in-chief, was put in charge of an initiative to revive once popular characters with a view to raising sales. Almost as soon as he was given this task Joe got on the phone to Kevin Smith. Smith had always been a huge comic book geek and had made it clear that he wanted a break into the genre. When Smith received the call he accepted the job in seconds, then a few minutes after getting off the phone he called Joe again and claimed he simply couldn’t do it. To be asked to write for Marvel comics having never worked on a single comic book before was terrifying. Joe was disappointed but told Smith that he understood. Smith went to bed feeling kinda crappy but with the knowledge that he had done the right thing.

Playing Tricks On The Blind

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There was a call in the night that roused Smith from his sleep. It was Bob Harras, the then editor-in-chief and the man was 100% pissed. How dared Smith turn down the offer of a lifetime! The offer that every fan boy dreamed of! No. Bob told Kevin that Kevin would write for Daredevil and the next morning Kevin sat down and got to work. He pended an eight issue arc which played with the major ecclesiastical themes within the character’s history and mentality whilst also diving into a brilliant supporting cast of allies and enemies, including Black Widow, Spider-Man, Bullseye and Mysterio. The story worked on two levels as it was essential a twist arc revolving around Daredevils senses being fooled by Mysterio. The twist moment is handled perfectly as it pulls the rug from under Matt and reader at the same time, making a great moment. Needless to say the fans lapped it up!

The Devil Reborn

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With the news that Smith was working on the book circulating it wasn’t long before the general fandom was losing its minds. The first issue of Smith’s arc saw incredible sales for a character with such a low profile as Daredevil had at the time, dropping within the top 20 for September 1998 with each successive issue following suit. By the end of the eight issue arc, Daredevil was out performing staple series such as the Avengers, Thor and Iron Man. The Man without fear was back on top and had a growing following. Marvel followed up this great success by hiring a lesser known writer called Brian Michael Bendis and the rest is history. But we would never of had the great Bendis run or the wide spread Daredevil fandom without this moment in the character’s history and Smith wasn’t done delivering a legacy for the character.

Blind Man’s Bluff

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For good or for ill, the Daredevil film, with Ben Affleck, was spawned directly off the back of this book, with several key scenes reflecting moments in the arc. The series also marked the start of an unspoken reputation for Daredevil as the place where Marvel courted fringe writers and artists with a bright future ahead of them. Bendis, Brubaker, Waid and even Soule have all written on the series since and gone on to great success in the industry. If Clerks was Smith leaving his mark on the independent film industry then Guardian Devil was him leaving his mark on the world of comics. Next week we will be looking at the recent Batman Eternal and the rise of weekly comic book series.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Friday for a brand new Covert Coot article!!!

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