Daredevil doesn’t have a healing factor, super human strength or unbreakable skin. He’s essentially just a highly trained man with heightened senses, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking on some of the most dangerous menaces in the Marvel Universe. Over the course of his long career, Matt Murdock has battled super villains, cunning mobsters, armies of ninjas, a rampaging Hulk and even the demon king Mephisto.
Murdock battles these foes because he has an unstoppable commitment to justice — a commitment that earned him the nickname the Man Without Fear. That kind of devotion leads to a turbulent, violent and often short life. In the current Marvel Comics eight issue mini-series “Daredevil: End of Days,” an all-star team of creators present a possible future where they’ll examine the death and final days of Matt Murdock. In part of one of CBR’s look at the series, we spoke with co-writers Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack, and today we continue our look at the series by talking with Editor Stephen Wacker and cover artist Alex Maleev.
Work on “Daredevil: End of Days” began in 2007 with editor Warren Simons originally overseeing the project. When Wacker took over editing duties for the regular “Daredevil” series, he inherited the project.
“The book had been cooking for awhile before I took it over in Warren and Alejandro Arbona’s office,” Wacker told CBR News. “I was really excited to become part of this project. I had worked with Klaus Janson before, but I hadn’t worked with Brian Bendis, Bill Sienkiewicz or David Mack. So it was an exciting and prestigious book to get thrown into your lap, and it had some great talent.
“Bill is an artist with a very special place in my heart because I was the right age in the ’80s when he was doing historic work on books like ‘Elektra Assassin’ and ‘New Mutants,'” Wacker continued. “So as with all these guys you read when you’re a teenager and you first work with them there’s one side of your brain that’s very intimidated. And there’s the other side that says, ‘You’ve got to put all that aside. You’re working with professionals. They’re depending on you to make sure that you keep track of both the schedule and their payments.’ Then once the work starts rolling in it just all becomes about the work and it’s a blast. Bill is like no one else in comics and it’s been pretty exciting. He’s the guy that did ‘Stray Toasters.’ He can do no wrong.”
When Wacker began working with Sienkiewicz and the other creators of “Daredevil: End of Days,” the first two scripts of the series were complete and the first issue was in the penciling and inking stages. “The story pretty much came all cooked, so I’ve been more of a traffic manager,” Wacker said. “The most important thing you can do to get a project that’s been gestating for awhile moving is to schedule it. That sort of kicked everyone into gear. Obviously, we have a pretty strong hold on Brian’s schedule and at the time he had some pretty big things going on in the Avengers books, ‘Ultimate Comics Spider-Man’ and several other places. So we had to be somewhat judicious and we needed enough of a ramp up time that Klaus could get a head start on the penciling again. He was working with me on ‘Spider-Man’ at the time and he had a lot of other big projects here. So it was just a matter of finally finding a time to schedule it. With the success of the new ‘Daredevil’ book, it felt like we could carry a second ‘Daredevil’ title.”
“Daredevil: End of Days” opens with the murder of the Man Without Fear and details journalist Ben Urich’s investigation into the character’s life and final days. At first glance, the series may seem to have a darker tone and feel than Mark Waid’s current volume of “Daredevil,” but Wacker feels the two series are a lot more similar than readers realize.
“I think people who like the current ‘Daredevil’ run are going to love ‘Daredevil: End of Days.’ It reflects things that went on during Brian and Alex’s run on the book, but that is all part of the book’s history and it’s one of the greatest runs ever in the history of comics. I also don’t think there’s a large difference between the two books. Mark and Chris [Samnee’s] current ‘Daredevil’ run ain’t as “fun” as some people think,” Wacker said. “Our current story especially is pretty grim. This is a side issue but my feeling is that most of the characters we think of as light, fun characters — Spider-Man is another example — are anything but when you actually look at their stories. Spider-Man is one of the darkest characters in comics just based on his origin. So I think ‘End of Days’ fits in perfectly alongside the current ‘Daredevil,’ I’m incredibly proud to even be in the vicinity of this project. It’s a beautiful looking comic book.”
The interiors of “Daredevil: End of Days” are beautiful thanks to the work of Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz with equally striking exteriors courtesy artist Alex Maleev’s covers. Maleev was the artist for Brian Bendis’ acclaimed “Daredevil” run and was excited to be given the chance to do some new work on the character. “I wish we could do our ‘Daredevil run all over again, but I don’t see this as revisiting the character. That’s reserved for the aliens,” Maleev joked. “This project gets fresh work from me. A new probe if you wish.”
Maleev and “Daredevil: End of Days” co-writer David Mack provide some interior art for the series, which focuses on characters they were associated with during their work on the main “Daredevil” title. However, the bulk of their artistic responsibility is providing covers. Mack will provide the series’ variant covers, which consist of noirish portraits of Daredevil, while Maleev’s covers focus on crime scenes involving Daredevil and his related characters.
“I honestly cannot recall who came up with the idea for the covers to be crime scenes. I simply ask, ‘Who do we kill next?’ After I get the call from the tower, I dip my hands in blood. It feels like being a criminal photographer,” Maleev said. “I like the cover where Bendis and I play the cops who discovered the hanging body of Elektra the best. It’s my latest of the batch and reflects my current cover style the best.”
Maleev and Mack’s cover work along with Sienkiewicz and Janson’s interiors are meant to be a visual celebration of all eras of Daredevil’s history. Bendis and Mack’s story will reflect that celebration as well. “We’re dealing with stuff from the Frank Miller run and as we’ve talked and gotten deeper into the story there have been nods to the current run. So we’re playing with the entire history of ‘Daredevil,'” Wacker explained. “There might be things that you associate with the Brian Bendis run if that’s really where you came in on ‘Daredevil,’ but throughout his run on the character, Brian was using bits and pieces from Daredevil’s history. I think that’s why it was so good. It made everything that had happened to the character come together.”
Wacker and his creators felt it was important for “Daredevil: End of Days” to embrace as much of Daredevil’s history as possible, especially considering the character inspired so many legendary and acclaimed runs.
“It’s intimidating to work on this character because he’s had 30 years of legendary runs. There’s something about Matt Murdock and Daredevil that our writers key into and it brings out the best in them. I know that sounds corny, but Daredevil has really been just a parade of good runs,” Wacker said. “The first issue of ‘Daredevil’ that I read was Bullseye versus Elektra. That’s a big one for me. Other moments I’ve enjoyed include when Frank Miller had Daredevil fight the Hulk. Then the issue after that was the one where Ben Urich pretty much spills the fact that he knows Matt’s identity. I think it was my first time as a kid where I just knew I was reading — capital ‘G’ — Great comic. I was a huge fan of Frank’s run all the way through. I also love Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr’s work; sort of the crazy urban fairy tale sense they brought to the character, and I loved what Brian Bendis did on the book.
“Has the Kevin Smith-Joe Quesada run finished? Whenever that finishes up, I’m sure I’d love to read it,” Wacker joked. “Seriously, Kevin and Joe actually brought a ton of attention back onto the character 14 years ago and it stands among the best runs on the book ever. Even the runs people forgot about before Frank Miller are pretty decent. There’s some great Gene Colan stuff and I loved the Karl Kesel and Joe Kelly runs from the ’90s too. They were right in a row. I enjoyed all of those.”
With “Daredevil: End of Days” #1 already in stores, readers will get each subsequent installment on a monthly basis with no projected delays.
“This will be monthly for all eight issues. Klaus is working on issues five and six right now. So barring the Eastern Seaboard falling in the ocean, this will not be hit with delays,” Wacker stated. “We’ve got some fantastic David Mack variant covers and a special ‘Daredevil’ collage cover by Pascal Garin too.”
Now that “Daredevil: End of Days” has started its monthly schedule, Wacker and Maleev are able to sit back and appreciate the work put into the eight issue celebration of Marvel’s Man Without Fear. “I’m very excited for people to read it. It’s a very pretty piece of work. It’s very violent, very hard and it’s completely immersive. The spreads that Klaus and Bill have drawn draw you in like no other book coming out of comics right now. Right now, I’m looking at a 32 panel spread across two pages. So, you can tell it’s a Brian comic,” Wacker said with a laugh.
Maleev added, “I’m so happy to be a part of this book, the creative team is legendary and me being mentioned in the same sentence with them calls for a toast. Cheers.”
“Daredevil: End of Days” #2 hits store November 7.