If there’s one thing Marvel Comics’ Daredevil AKA Matt Murdock learned from his late pugilist father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, it was how to get back up again after being knocked down. In recent years the character has endured a number of physical, emotional and psychological assaults including the outing of his secret identity, imprisonment, and his wife being driven insane by an old nemesis.
Losing his wife to mental illness was particularly hard on Murdock and he sought to recover from that defeat in an unusual manner. He took control of his old enemies, the ninja assassin cult known as the Hand, and tried to turn them into a force for good. What the emotionally vulnerable Murdock didn’t know was that he had walked into a trap. A cabal within the Hand wanted him to take control of the group so they could manipulate him and bring out his baser instincts.
The cabal’s corruption of Daredevil became complete when he gave into anger and murdered Bullseye, a longtime enemy, an act which allowed him to be possessed by a demon. In last year’s “Shadowland” mini-series, a host of Marvel’s street-level heroes were able to rescue Matt and he later fled New York in shame. Announced today at C2E2, writer Mark Waid and artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin bring Matt Murdock back to the Big Apple for an all new ongoing “Daredevil” series this summer. CBR News spoke with Waid about the July-debuting series.
CBR News: So Mark, you’re sort of following up your work on “Amazing Spider-Man” with a run on another one of Marvel’s premiere, street-level vigilantes in Daredevil. Is that coincidence? Or is there something about the street-level corner of the Marvel Universe that you find especially compelling?
Mark Waid: It’s almost coincidence, but you’re overlooking the other commonality between DD and Spidey — they’re both edited by Steve Wacker, an editor always eager to take a chance on a young tyro like myself. That said, across the broad spectrum of the Marvel Universe ranging from its most human characters to its most cosmic and space worthy, I’ll gravitate to the local neighborhood boys any time. Their problems are easier for me to relate to.
You’ve done quite a bit of work for Marvel over the years, but this is the first time you’ve written a story with Daredevil in a starring role correct?
Correct. In fact, I can’t remember ever having written Daredevil before outside of a quick cameo here or there.
Which aspects of Matt Murdock’s character do you find especially compelling as a writer?
His thirst for justice. I think his need to see justice for the innocent springs from his own memories of how unjust it was that, as a child, fate “rewarded” him for a good deed by taking his sight away. On a personal, primal level, I think Matt came to terms with that long ago, but it still taps a core wound in him when he sees something unjust about to happen to someone else. Over the years, especially the recent years, Matt’s come to believe that, ultimately, the universe can stay fair and balanced so long as good men fight to make it so. Now, that may not be true — but that’s the philosophy that keeps Matt sane. He has to believe that all the anguish he’s endured in his life has some purpose, is part of some overall cosmic order — because if it’s not, then hello, insane asylum.
Daredevil is a character who’s been through a lot in the last couple of years and it sounds like Andy Diggle is taking him on his first steps down the road to redemption in the current “Daredevil Reborn” mini-series. I understand you don’t want to spoil Andy’s story so you can’t say much, but what sort of emotional state is Matt Murdock in when you begin this series?
Odd. Genuinely odd. He’s returned to New York convinced he can go one of two directions: he can either keep wallowing in (justifiable) misery given the nightmares he’s suffered, or he can put it all behind him and act like it’s cool to just turn the clock back a few years. But it’s not cool. His friends and his allies are annoyed and disturbed by Matt’s attempts to hand-wave his recent actions away, and he’s gonna find out pretty soon that it’s not that easy to win back hearts and minds.
Tonally, it’s still very much a crime series, but we’re toning down the noir a bit and playing up the high adventure a bit more. He’s the Man Without Fear. I want to see that constantly. I want to see him diving face-first into perils that would make Green Lantern shriek like a little girl.
How new reader friendly is this series? With Daredevil returning to New York, it seems like you’ll be dealing with the fallout from “Shadowland.” Is that correct?
Yes, but not physically, not directly. Emotionally. Enough time has passed since Matt’s disappearance where Hell’s Kitchen is basically back to normal. Not that he’d really notice — because for the first time in ages, he’s relocated uptown. And, again, this is a seemingly bizarre decision that will raise some eyebrows with his pals.
In terms of plot and theme, what is your first arc of “Daredevil” about?
Having returned to New York and reclaimed the Daredevil identity, Matt’s trying to rebuild his law practice — but it’s going disastrously. Even if the majority of locals aren’t totally convinced the rumors are true about him having a double identity, the attorneys he goes up against in court are eager to bring it up early and often to force mistrials or worse. Matt’s doing his clients no favors by representing them — so he has to find a new way to practice law, and I’m proud to say we’ve never seen it before in this series, and it really works.
Who are some of the supporting players you’re interested in dealing with in “Daredevil?” Will we be seeing old favorites, entirely new characters or a mix of both? Will we also see some of the street-level heroes that have become linked with Daredevil such as the Black Panther and Spider-Man?
In time, sure. Spider-Man, in particular, is a gimme. In fact, you’ll see lots of Marvel heroes because NONE OF THEM TRUST HIM RIGHT NOW given his various breakdowns. Several will be playing through in the first few issues as Matt works to reconnect with his peers. Trouble is, to them, Matt’s become the guy who they like and root for but who they live in fear will disappoint them — again. If you like David Duchovny in “Californication,” you’ll LOVE the new Matt Murdock.
In your opinion who are some of Daredevil’s most interesting foes and do you have plans for these characters? Will you be leaving your own mark and adding some new rogues to his gallery?
No plans for the existing foes, except to say that — with all due respect to the fantastic work of all my predecessors — I can go a long, long time without ever seeing Kingpin or a ninja again. You’ll see some new villains, but more interestingly, you’ll see some Marvel bad guys who don’t normally face off against DD. Artist Paolo Rivera, for instance, suggested Klaw, Master of Sound, and I got on that like black on a bowling ball.
Speaking of Paolo, you’re working on “Daredevil” both with him and another exceptional artist, Marcos Martin. What do you feel they each bring to this book in particular? And will they be rotating in and out of the book on an arc-by-arc basis, or how is it set up?
Right now, the plan is to rotate them on an arc-by-arc basis, keeping the arcs fairly short, but both are working on issue #1, which has two separate stories. Man alive, you should see what they’re doing. They’re reinventing the entire visual language of the character!
How far along do you have your run on “Daredevil” planned out? Can you give us any hints or teases as to what kind of year 2011 will be for the Man Without Fear?
I’m on for the foreseeable future, and Steve and I have talked about the first year in some detail. I can’t be too specific right away because we’re trying to coordinate properly with the rest of the Marvel line, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt working with (or being drafted into?) one of the existing Marvel teams before long. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vulture, Electro and Namor along the way, but no promises.
Any final thoughts you would like to share about your work on “Daredevil?”
Just that I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun writing a Marvel character, ever.