10. Alex Maleev
Maleev penciled a gritty looking Daredevil on the Bendis run that brought the feeling of Hell’s Kitchen to life. It was a dangerous neighbourhood to live with only the devil to save you. There is no doubt in Maleev’s work that Daredevil is The Man Without Fear. When it is a dark and stormy night and you are walking through a grim and gritty ally, remember to look for that splash of red and feel comfort in it’s presence
9. Paolo Rivera
With a style that was both classical and modern, his departure was felt on the title. He remains one of my favorite modern DD artists, and his work a high point in the happy Matt era
8. David Mazzuchelli
Perhaps more well known for his work on Year One, Mazzuchelli joined Miller for his return to the character for the epic Born Again. Based off his work with the writer, it’s possible David Mazzuchelli may have done Frank Miller’s noir style cartooning better then Frank Miller himself. There’s a pulpish quality to Mazzuchelli’s work on Daredevil that is some of the best pure visual story telling that the artist ever did on a superhero comic.
7. Bill Sienkiewicz
The character Elektra is an essential element of the Daredevil mythos, it’s the entire basis for the tragic figure he represents. An Elektra story is a Daredevil story and vice versa. So with all due respect for the fantastic work he did on Daredevil: Love & War, Sienkiewicz greatest addition to the Daredevil mythos comes in his excellent Elektra Assassin, where his dark surrealist art work added a whole new dimension to the character and by proxy the Daredevil universe as a whole. Moreover, what Sienkiewicz does on Elektra basically creates a whole new style of visual story telling in comics that didn’t just incorporate elements of fine art, it was on the level of what you’d see hanging in the MOMA.
6. Chris Samnee
Working along side Mark Waid on the current run of Daredevil, Samnee has breathed new life into a character who was taking a dark turn. Samnee’s pencils on this series were worthy enough for Eisner nominations and even a win in 2013. Samnee’s beautiful radar sense pages are second to none, and there is nothing like a Matt Murdock with an over enthusiastic face. Samnee imagines what the world would be like for a blind hero and he brings that life to the pages.
5. Mark Waid
Old Horn Head was in a bit of a slump, even for him. Most writers would have used Matt’s recent experience of being possessed by a demon (don’t ask) as an opportunity to send the character down another spiral of self-loathing depression. Instead, Waid gave Matt a new lease on life, infusing him and his book with a sense of playfulness unseen since, well, a long time. His narrative has not been all rollicking adventures, though; Waid has hit plenty of poignant notes as well, especially in his handling of Foggy’s cancer. However, Waid found a way to acknowledge Matt’s darker nature without it ever overcoming the hero. The result is what many thought impossible: a fresh take on a character long believed permanently defined by past glories.
4. Klaus Janson
Janson’s tenure on Daredevil will always be closely linked with Frank Miller, rightly so, as Janson started as Miller’s inker for much of his run, and eventually took over as full-time penciller so Miller could focus on writing. Janson brought his own unique style both on inks and pencils, his run stretches from 1975- 83, and Daredevil’s look in that period owes a lot to him. He also recently did pencils for the mini End of Days, which showcased how awesome he still is
3. Gene Colan
Colan was the main artist on Daredevil for all but 3 of the issues from 1966-73, and his impact on the character was immense. Possessing a different style than Marvel kings Kirby and Ditko, Gene Colan carved out his own place in the Marvel U with Ol’ Hornhead, and the comic would never be what it is today without him. For a great spotlight head over to TheOtherMurdockPapers
2 Brian Michael Bendis
These days, when you think of Brian Michael Bendis, you probably think of the quirky dialogue in his team books, the way he shakes the status quo on a property, the many events/crossovers and the sometimes oddball, sometimes epic, sometimes stretching the limits of plausibility stories that he uses in his books but what’s often overlooked is still his greatest strength in addition to the very thing that got him here in the first place; his crime writing. Bendis first comics were based on the imfamous “Torso murders/Mad Butcher” of his native Cleveland during the 1930’s, a serial killer that would stalk his victims in the cities depression era slums and ultimately elude famed detective Eliot Ness. So when Marvel needed a writer to fill in for Kevin Smith in between arcs, Bendis was more then right for the challenge and when the publisher was ready for someone to take over the writing duties, Bendis proved more then capable with a fantastic long form crime epic that is only rivaled by Frank Miller’s time on the character in terms of influence and quality. He recognized a new version of Murdock & Kingpin’s New York City that managed to account for the character’s and cities past while taking that to it’s present for a crime story that felt as dirty as the actual streets it was set on. Bendis respected the characters history while also understanding where to shake up the cannon for some of the best work on the properties history. Daredevil comics have been in a renascence period for most of this century, in addition to the aforementioned Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Paolo Rivera & Bendis Daredevil collaborators Alex Maleev & Klaus Janson, we’ve also seen such comics luminaries as Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, David Aja, David Mack & more do some fantastic work on the title, but nobodies run is equal to what Bendis did on the series. Even in it’s current, Eisner winning reformat, it’s Bendis time that remains the definitive statement on the character for the 21st century.
1. Frank Miller