Marvel Knights is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and Marvel is rolling out brand new collections of the imprint’s greatest hits, like Daredevil: Guardian Devil.
When his girlfriend leaves him, Matt Murdock’s world is shaken. He barely has any time to get his bearings when a teenager shows up at his door, says she knows he’s Daredevil, and hands him her baby to take care of. She claims the baby is the savior, and an angel told her that Matt would be its protector. The Man Without Fear’s life only goes from bad to worse from there in this eight chapter story.
Daredevil was written by Kevin Smith, with pencils by Joe Quesada and inks by Jimmy Palmiotti. Colors were by Dan Kemp, Laura Depuy, Drew Yackey, and Richard Isanove. Letters were by Liz Agraphiotis with Dave Lanphear.
Guardian Devil was Smith’s foray into superhero comics. The few comics he had written prior were set in his own film universe. It’s also arguably his best superhero comic. That’s no slight against his other work; Daredevil is just that enjoyable. Rereading it for this review, it reminded me of why I love the character.
This story is chock full of inner turmoil. Matt Murdock is famously Catholic, and from the first issue that’s a heavy component of this story. Smith’s also Catholic, so he writes from a very personal place. Matt’s crisis of faith is center stage, as is something that even those of us who stopped practicing years ago still suffer from – Catholic guilt. It’s in many ways (and not by accident) like Frank Miller’s Daredevil: Born Again, in that it tears down Murdock and explores who he is at his core.
But that inner conflict is balanced out with kick-ass superhero action, a captivating mystery, and an ending that’ll blow you away. Seriously, no spoilers here, but Daredevil is the book that made me realize how powerful a certain villain actually is, and turned him into one of my favorites.
Smith is admittedly pretty verbose, and that makes this something of a long read, but it’s worth it.
Quesada and Palmiotti founded Marvel Knights, and they clearly put everything they had into Daredevil to make it work. And damn, does it work. Their Daredevil has become iconic since this book’s publication. Personally, I still can’t get over the erratic way Quesada draws the line connecting DD’s billy clubs.
The dense panel layouts and the way they create their settings is claustrophobic at times, adding to the intensity of the story. It suffocates you and overwhelms you the same way that Daredevil is overwhelmed. The use of darkness and shadow create the noir vibe that’s become synonymous with the character.
Marvel Knights Legacy & What The New Collection Offers
Marvel Knights launched in 1998, but Daredevil and the other MK titles didn’t feel like 90s books. Instead, they gave a sense of what would become standard in the new millennium. They weren’t superficial. They focused on story and characters, and gave readers something that would stick with them long after they put it down. Here we are twenty years later; suffice it to say, they succeeded.
The new collection comes in a sleek black trade dress that will match the rest of the Marvel Knights 20th anniversary editions. It features introductions and afterwords by Quesada, Smith, Ben Affleck, and Tom Sullivan, all of which were originally included in past collections of the story. It also includes a gallery of variant covers, as well as Quesada’s character sketches and pencils for the first issue.
Admit it, when you think “Marvel Knights”, you think Daredevil. If you’ve never read this story before, or you read it back in the day but don’t own the collection, now’s the time to pick it up with the MKXX edition of Guardian Devil.