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Kingpin of the Hill: Lapham talks “Daredevil Vs. Punisher”

by  in Comic News Comment
Kingpin of the Hill: Lapham talks “Daredevil Vs. Punisher”
“Daredevil Vs. Punisher” #1 “Daredevil Vs. Punisher” #1, Page 4

After Daredevil declared himself the new Kingpin, his book jumped a year into the future and readers never learned the disastrous effects of this proclamation. The announcement sparked a bloody mob power struggle and put Daredevil in the cross-hairs of a man dead set against anyone reclaiming the title of Kingpin, The Punisher. The full story will be revealed in July in the pages of “Daredevil Vs. Punisher” a six-issue mini-series from Marvel Comics written and illustrated by “Stray Bullets” creator David Lapham and set during that missing year in “Daredevil.” CBR News spoke to Lapham via e-mail about the project.

“Daredevil Vs. Punisher” came about after a few phone calls from editor Warren Simons. “Warren Simons at Marvel had been calling me to do a project for them. Since I’d already done Batman, my usual excuse of, ‘I only do my own stuff,’ didn’t play as well.” Lapham told CBR News. “So here we are.”

Even though they are often bitter opponents, Daredevil and The Punisher are alike. “They’re similar in many ways. They’re both driven and staunchly committed to their causes. The conflict lies in where they draw their lines,” Lapham explained. “For Daredevil that line is no killing. It’s an absolute. He would be incapable of being a vigilante and justifying his actions to himself if he crossed it. The Punisher’s line is the exact opposite. To do anything but kill a murderer or a drug dealer is the same as aiding and abetting that individual. You are now responsible for what that person will do in the future. To not kill would also be a betrayal of the revenge he’s taking for his family. They can never come back and he can never stop.”

“Daredevil Vs. Punisher” #1, Page 5 “Daredevil Vs. Punisher” #1, Page 7

The bedlam caused by the Kingpin’s downfall starts the clash between the two vigilantes. “Without the Kingpin, organized crime is in a shambles, but the chaos is causing more violence. The Punisher wants to keep it that way. The chaos keeps the mobs weak and ripe for destruction,” Lapham said. “Anyone trying to take up the Kingpin’s mantle has to go. At the beginning of my story, that person happens to be Hammerhead and his right hand man, an old Punisher nemesis who now calls himself ‘the Professor.’ Daredevil intervenes, and thwarts the Punisher’s assassination attempt. Hammerhead and the Professor take extreme measures to protect themselves, putting a huge reward on the Punisher’s head. Every lowlife, gangster, and opportunist in the city is out to collect, and the city becomes a war zone, riddled with killers and informants. DD is caught in the middle, and has to try and stop the Punisher as innocent people are being caught in the crossfire.”

One person caught in the crossfire is another important character in the story. “We also follow the story of one of these ‘innocents,’ in very ‘Stray Bullets’ fashion, running parallel to the superheroes’ story, is the tale of one of these ‘innocents,’ Martin Bastelli, Jr., a young teenager whose family owns a diner in Hell’s Kitchen,” Lapham said. “They’ve struggled under the thumb of gangster’s protection rackets their whole lives. Martin perceives his aging father as weak for not standing up to the thugs. He worships the Punisher and, early on, has a brief encounter with him which ‘inspires’ Martin to do some highly stupid things.”

Martin’s family and friends make up the bulk of the series’ supporting cast. “Daredevil and Punisher have enough problems dealing with each other,” Lapham explained.

“Daredevil Vs. Punisher” #2, Page 1 “Daredevil Vs. Punisher” #2, Page 3

Besides Hammerhead and his lieutenant the “Professor” (whose identity is a mystery, but Lapham hinted that he and The Punisher “go back.”), a number of villains appear in “Daredevil Vs. Punisher. “Another guy we’ll see is the hired assassin Bushwacker, a villain with arms which are enormously fun to draw,” Lapham said. “He’s brought in to kill the Punisher. And, of course, bunches of men with guns.”

None of these villains however are the main villains of “Daredevil Vs. Punisher.” “The real villains of the series are Daredevil and Punisher, each from the others perspective,” Lapham explained.

Fans worrying that the tone of “Daredevil Vs. Punisher” will be radically different from Lapham’s usual violent tales of crime can rest easy. Lapham said, “Let’s just say, ‘Stray Bullets’ fans won’t be disappointed.”

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