Daredevil1. DAREDEVIL

The choice to decide what to top this list was a challenge to say the least. As noted, many observe The Flash as being the best comic book show on TV today. And yet, one show just barely wiggles ahead of that distinction. When Daredevil was created, it was a character that largely was lost in the shuffle of so many amazing characters to emerge from the rebirth of Marvel comics (or rather, the transition from Atlas to Marvel). Daredevil managed to maintain publication but it wouldn’t be until under the creative guidance of Frank Miller that it took on its own identity which has defined it ever since. Weaving a tale of tragedy and action, attempts were made to adapt Daredevil over the years to lackluster results. That all changed when Netflix acquired the rights to stream a series based on the property. Part of the Defenders block of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Daredevil would lead the charge with Charlie Cox portraying the eponymous character. Set in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, the story follows the ascension of two men fighting for the soul of their neighborhood: lawyer and vigilante Matt Murdock/Daredevil and corrupt businessman Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). Convinced gentrifying Hell’s Kitchen through any means would be best for the neighborhood, Fisk aligns with the various organized criminal outfits of New York engaging in human trafficking, drug dealing, and money laundering toward this end. Matt Murdock, blinded as a child in an accident that also enhanced his other senses to superhuman levels, takes to the streets at night to stop Fisk while trying to undermine his operations during the day with help from law partner “Foggy” Nelson (Elden Henson), assistant Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), reporter Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall), and night shift nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). The initial thirteen episode season of Daredevil is perhaps best described as Shakespearean, every character presented as unique, well-rounded human beings mixed in a grand tragedy with brutal battles. Being on Netflix significantly helps the series, be it the mature level of the content, the short season which offers the capability to cover a story arc without filler, and the ability to watch an entire season quickly which better permits the use of plot-driven episodes that could otherwise perhaps draw low ratings on television in a weekly format. As Murdock and friends combat a seemingly unstoppable force whose influence is felt in every avenue they trek, every victory comes at a price and by the end of the first season, few survive to see its finale. Daredevil is in some manner an urban war film where almost every episode hits home the toll on the human soul of the journey of its characters. It’s this uphill battle which adds so much gravity to the final confrontation between Daredevil and Fisk in the season finale. Where Fisk’s dreams have died and Murdock has lost friends in their war, it’s two men whose seeming existence runs negative to each other and this meeting is two forces of nature hitting each other head-on. The acting, the plot, the cinematography; Daredevil is not just an excellent comic book TV show but an excellent work of fiction alone. It’s then no surprise the series was a major hit for Netflix and a second season was fast-tracked for release next month.

 

Honorable mentions: Lucifer, Powers, and Gotham.