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Fear Himself: Brubaker talks “Daredevil”

by  in Comic News Comment
Fear Himself: Brubaker talks “Daredevil”
“Daredevil” #102 on sale this week

Matt Murdock may be Marvel Comics’ "Man Without Fear," but these days even Daredevil’s afraid of something; not fear itself, but Fear himself, Mister Fear.  In his latest scheme, Mister Fear has struck Murdock in one of his most vulnerable spots: his wife, who Mister Fear dosed with a deadly drug that’s driving her homicidally insane. But the champion of Hell’s Kitchen isn’t giving up without a fight. This is the premise of "Without Fear," the latest "Daredevil" story arc, part three of which unfolds in issue #102, in stores this week. CBR News spoke with "Daredevil" writer Ed Brubaker about the book.

The roots of Mister Fear’s vendetta against Daredevil stretch back years before either of them donned their costumes. "The reason the guy is a supervillain really is because Matt Murdock shamed him in law school," Ed Brubaker told CBR News. "Fear’s always resented Matt and thought he got an easy road because he was blind. Then, after Matt’s life goes to hell, everyone learns he’s Daredevil and he gets sent to prison, he still gets his life back. It’s like Matt Murdock gets to go on with his life because he’s such a special person and that’s too much for this guy since he’s always hated Matt. It’s like, ‘the nerve of the guy! His world falls apart and he just gets it all back!’

"I like that it’s a really personal, petty grudge, almost a ‘never-got-over-high-school’ kind of thing," Brubaker continued. "I think it’s very true to human nature in a lot of ways. If you had the power to pull off anything you wanted isn’t there someone who’s pissed you off that you’d make suffer with a flip of a switch?"

“Daredevil” #102, page 1

Mister Fear has launched numerous attacks on Daredevil in the past, but the latest round has proven especially evil, even for a villain. The poisoning of Daredevil’s wife has sent the hero into a boiling rage. "It’s sort of an extension of the rage he felt in prison," Brubaker explained. "Now that he’s out and tried to rebuild his life he’s found the people he cares about are even bigger targets. Mister Fear goes after his wife but he doesn’t just try to kill her; he wants to torture Matt by making him watch her go insane and get arrested."

Daredevil’s increasingly desperate attempts to find a cure for his wife’s condition are putting him at risk of crossing a dangerous line. "I just finished a couple of scenes earlier today where I think people are going to be shocked by the things Daredevil might be capable of," Brubaker stated. "He’s got a mission he can’t fail and he’s probably terrified he’s going to."

“Daredevil” #102, page 2

The Man Without Fear’s escalating temper has not gone unnoticed, and Daredevil’s drawn the attention of one of Mister Fear’s underlings who’s been on the wrong side of that rage all too often, Turk Barrett. And as Ed Brubaker can tell you, fear makes a powerful motivator: "I like the idea of having Turk go up a notch and be smart enough to realize that he’s been thrown through enough windows by Daredevil that when he sees what Mister Fear has done to him he thinks, ‘Shit maybe I backed the wrong horse!’ So he calls up [Mister Fear’s criminal rival] The Hood and he’s like, ‘I think I can help you find the guy you’re looking for. So it’s really Turk’s cowardice that makes him smart [laughs]."

The Hood has a virtual army of supervillains at his disposal, while Mister Fear’s gang consists of just himself, the Enforcers and a collection of street thugs. But while it may seem like The Hood will just steamroll over Mister Fear’s operation, Brubaker reminds readers that everything is not what it seems in the war between The Hood and Mister Fear. "There is a certain amount of jockeying for position but the Hood’s organization isn’t necessarily about controlling everything," Brubaker said. "It’s more about being Murder Inc. for supervillains, a way to give them carte blanche to do whatever they want. Mister Fear is really just targeting a specific neighborhood but he’s still got to deal with the Hood a little bit and we’re going to see that in the next couple of issues.

“Daredevil” #102, page 3

"There will be a couple of big super villains versus Mister Fear’s people," Brubaker continued. "Like there’s a pretty awesome scene in #102 that [‘Daredevil’ artist] Michael [Lark] drew which has the Wrecker and Razorfist taking on the Enforcers.  It was pretty funny to see those kinds of supervillains drawn in Michael’s style but I think the Wrecker looks totally awesome when Michael draws him."

Street battles with warring supervillains aren’t the only obstacles in Daredevil’s quest to bring down Mister Fear and save his wife. Upcoming issues will also see Matt Murdock fighting it out in the courtroom as well. "Milla is unfit to stand trial but if they ever want to get her out of the insane asylum they’re pretty much going to have to get her fit to stand trial or get the judge and the distract attorney to change their ruling," Brubaker explained. "When you’re unfit to stand trial and they put you in a mental institution there’s really no way out other than to prove you can stand trial."

Fortunately for Matt Murdock, he’s not alone in his battles in the courtroom or on the street. One ally on both fronts has been private detective Dakota North. In the ’80s, North starred in her own series and Brubaker chose her to replace Jessica Jones as Nelson & Murdock’s chief investigator. "She’s really fitting into the cast as the wise cracking PI pretty well," Brubaker said.

“Daredevil” #102, pages 4 and 5

"I like the idea of a tough female private eye who also used to be a supermodel but dresses businesslike and will get in punch-ups with convicts and things like that. I’ve just got to remember to not make her the female Slam Bradley," Brubaker said, referring to the classic DC Comics private investigator he plucked from obscurity to join the cast of "Catwoman." "I really enjoyed it when for a few issues I got to have her hang out with Ben Urich. Now that ‘Frontline’ is over I’m trying to find a way to bring Ben Urich back into the book."

Indeed, Daredevil will need all the help he can get, as the remaining chapters of "Without Fear" will see not just a gang war but also the final battle with Mister Fear. "I hope this arc doesn’t end the way anyone thinks it’s going to because I’ve really been planning these issues since I started writing the book," Brubaker confessed. 

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Marvel Comics forum.

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