One of my favorite episodes of Spider-man: The Animated Series featured the character Daredevil, a blind New York City Attorney with amazing physical powers through the use of his other senses.
It turns out my local library system had the Essential Daredevil, Vol. 1 containing his first twenty-five issues from the 1960s.
So below are my thoughts:
Origin: Matt Murdoch loses his sight in accident while trying to save a blind man from being hit. Due to radioactive material, he not only develops stronger senses as is typical with blind people but also extremely enhanced senses that also completely compensate for sight giving him a sort of radar vision among other things.
Murdoch's father, a boxer, is murdered for not fixing a fight. But he has urged Matt not to make his living with his fists. Matt honors his father's wishes and graduates from Law School but is unable to focus on his work until his father's brought to justice. He designs the Daredevil costume. He'd been teased by kids in school as a "Daredevil" and adopted that name. He set out to find his father's killer and took care of that in Issue #1. And thus begins a long career of crimefighting.
The Supporting Cast: Foggy Nelson, his law partner and Murdoch are in love with the same girl, their secretary Karen Page. Karen cares more for both Daredevil and Murdoch than Nelson. Foggy is a somewhat insecure and vain character, although he can be heroic in a pinch. In one arch, Spider-man sees Daredevil going into Murdoch and Nelson's office and concludes that Foggy is Daredevil because it couldn't possibly be the blind guy. Foggy than tries to subtly convince Karen he's Daredevil, putting their lives at risk.
Karen tends to be a little irritating. The art of Gene Colan art makes her look more attractive than earlier issues, but she's a little too focused on Matt's blindness. Her ability to make assumptions plus her guilelessness goes a little beyond innocent. She never truly does anything stupid, but she's no Mary Jane Watson.
Plot and Character: The book has been criticized for its B-grade villains and to an extent, it's true. The original Daredevil villains tend to be a little lame with character like the Matador and Stiltman and the Purple Man is a bit weird.
However, the stories are swashbuckling fun. The quality of villains picks up in Issue 6 when he meets the Fellowship of Fear that includes one villain who can fire a ray that induces large amount of fear-a big challenge for the Man Without Fear.
The Masked Marauder may be a bit of a generic character but he does work as a mastermind foil for Daredevil. The Gladiator and Tri-man are great physical challenges and even the Owl improves on his second appearance.
In addition to that, Daredevil meets up with Spider-man, Kazar, and the Submariner in this book. While some may dis Stan Lee's writing, I love it. He gives the stories a conversational air. I found myself chuckling at his notes several times and while most fans seem to hate the introduction of Mike Murdoch (Matt's Alleged twin brother (really Matt himself) meant to cover his secret identity), I thought it was an amusing and fun bit of 60s craziness.
No, you don't have great villains, but the book is pure Silver Age fun.
The character of Matt Murdoch is interesting. He seems to be addicted to adrenaline, which would seem to be his prime motivation for carrying on as Daredevil after his father's murderer was caught. He knows things are traps but boldly walks in wanting to see what will happen. Occasionally, The Man Without Fear acts like the Man Without Sense.
Clearly Matt feels constrained by what people expect of a blind man in terms of being helpless. In Issue 24, he declares that it feels like Matt Murdoch is the mask while Daredevil is the real person. A nice serious character conflict to go with all the fun of these books.
Overall, this is just a wonderful version of the character before Frank Miller had his way with him.