Daredevil #1 (cover date April 1964) marks the first appearance of ‘ol’ horn head’ which makes him officially the last of the Silver Age Marvel heroes to debut in a regular series. This late introduction means that early Daredevil (especially the first six issues where he wears an odd yellow, black and red outfit handmade out of- wait for it…stitched up patches of old shirts!) featured many crossover appearances. These crossover guests, both heroes and villains from the already established Marvel books (The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, Spidey’s nemesis Electro –who is the big bad in DD #2 and the Fantastic Four antagonist Namor, DD #7) give the early issues an almost promotional quality, as if the writers were saying: “hey kids, check out our already established, and well-selling, other comics!”
Daredevil’s relatively late appearance in 1964 also meant that the character had an already existing fictional universe to inhabit. Not that he really needed it, the original premise and supporting cast of the Daredevil comic (featuring his partner in law Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson and, on again-off again, love interest Karen Page) gave Matt Murdoch a solid framework from within which his adventures could unfold. In the case of Daredevil, like Spider-man before him, these adventures featured more than their share of bad fortune for the protagonist. After the tragic accident that cost him his sense of sight, but left him with his other senses heightened as well as a ‘radar sense’, Murdoch’s life was frequently draped in sadness. From the loss of his boxer dad- Battlin’ Jack Murdoch- to a mob hit, to the tragic death of his true love Elektra at the hands of the assassin Bullseye – it’s safe to say that DD’s history featured many ups and downs. These vicissitudes are all chronicled in his long running self-titled magazine. But let’s face it, it’s the overcoming of these challenges and the rising to the occasion that makes DD such an appealing hero.
That said, it will be curious to see if DD’s comics (especially the early DD issues) can overcome their own challenge of rising in value to compete with the other Marvel Silver Age flagship books. Currently, early and key Daredevil comics seem to fetch lower prices on the market compared to Spider-man or the Avengers from the same period. Yet, although this is indeed the way things currently stand, it’s no reason to overlook ‘the Man without Fear’ or his back catalogue. For one thing, as the other big Marvel Silver Age keys continue to rise in value, the upward trend in prices can only push early Daredevil higher and it could very well be the excellent Netflix series, primed to begin its third season later this year that will set the stone in motion. Rumors are that Bullseye and possibly the Stilt Man will make appearances in Season 3, with, according to those in the know, tapped storylines that include: the ‘Born Again’ saga (from Daredevil v1 #227-#231 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli) and the ‘the Murdock Papers’ story arc (from Daredevil v2 #76-#81). The Born Again saga is a gripping tale of Daredevil’s descent into madness due to provocation from the Kingpin, and the Murdoch Papers tell the story of how Kingpin learns Daredevil’s true identity.
In the remainder of this post I want to take a look at the comics where the above characters and storylines first appear, making them not only key issues in the DD run, but possible inspirations for the upcoming Netflix season. Personally, I think all the early (yellow suit) issues 1-6 are currently undervalued and would try to pick them all up (along with issue # 7 with its iconic Wally Wood cover and first appearance of DD’s red suit), but the keys examined here have been selected especially for their relevance to Daredevil season 3. Without further ado, let’s get started:
This issue features the first appearance of Stilt Man. Stilt Man’s iconic armor was briefly shown in Melvin Potter’s workshop in the last episode of season One of DD. In the comics, Melvin Potter goes on to become the villain known as Gladiator (Daredevil #18), but he was a contract weapons and super-suit designer to all comers who were willing to pay his asking price. It’s possible that the Stilt Man, aka Wilbur Day, will show up this season to purchase Potter’s Stilt Man armored suit. A 9.0 is your best bet for a healthy return on this one.
Amazing Spider-man #50 is the first appearance of Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin. If you don’t have this, get it. The reports are that Kingpin’s role will be central to the new season of Daredevil. We know that by the end of the Defenders mini-series, the threat of the Hand had been eliminated- leaving a power vacuum in the New York crime world. In season one of DD, Kingpin had not yet attained the status of the biggest Crime boss in New York, so it’s logical to assume that upon his release from prison he will rise to fill the void left by that nefarious organization known as the Hand. That this will have to happen is obvious if the writers want to draw from the ‘Born Again’ story arc, as has been rumored. In any case Amazing Spider-man #50 is the first appearance of the Kingpin and its current rise in value can be traced back both to the unceasing demand for early Spider-man and directly to the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. The market value of ASM #50 is still trending high, especially in lower grades. A 4.5 CGC version will currently set you back $290. Long term investors should aim for a 9.0 which is currently going for 2000 dollars which is $1, 800 less than a 9.2. Will more Kingpin on Netflix boost the price of this classic? We shall see.
As Daredevil villains go, other than the borrowed Spider-man rogues, Bullseye is probably at the top of the list. Able to turn anything into a weapon, Bullseye’s first appearance is in Daredevil #131. This issue has shot up in value over the last year but is still affordable in high grade. Best returns seem to be on 9.8 but it’s also crossed the 1000 dollar mark, whereas a 9.6 is less than half the price is still seeing fairly decent returns.
When Frank Miller took over the Daredevil title, starting with issue 158, he injected the series with some much needed new ideas. Throughout the seventies the DD book was in a slump and not even the addition of Black Widow to the book could save it. Amongst his other changes to the book, Miller made the Kingpin the major Daredevil antagonist and introduced the Hand. Other than bringing Daredevil back to his gritty best, it was the Miller run that gave us the ‘Born Again’ sage, the Elektra saga and the character of Stick, amongst other things. In terms of modern Daredevil, and the current series, it all starts with this one. Very affordable in high grade for now (a 9.8 currently can be had for under 700 dollars), returns have been mixed in lower grades.