Marvel Comics’ Daredevil has faced and overcome countless soul crushing challenges both in his costumed and civilian lives. So it takes a lot to get under the character’s skin and make him suffer, but ever since writer Mark Waid launched the latest volume of “Daredevil” someone has been doing just that.
Over the course of 25 issues this mysterious mastermind has sent several dangerous villains after Daredevil and used his knowledge of the Man Without Fear to conduct a campaign of psychological warfare, including tormenting him with the remains of his dead father and forcing him to confront his mentally ill ex-wife. So the confrontation between Daredevil and this enigmatic mastermind has been a long time coming, and in “Daredevil” #26 writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee set the stage for that showdown by revealing the villain’s identity and having Matt Murdock finally come face to face with the character. CBR spoke with Waid about the reveal and the events of the issue.
Warning: if you haven’t read “Daredevil” #26 yet, there are spoilers ahead.
CBR News: Mark, let’s kick off with the big revelation in “Daredevil” #26 that Matt Murdock’s old arch enemy Bullseye is the mastermind behind Matt’s troubles. I was going to ask, “Why bring Bullseye back to ‘Daredevil?'” but that wouldn’t be correct because essentially he’s been here all along. The better question is what made you want to use the character as a Machiavellian mastermind?
Mark Waid: As with Matt, I’m just trying to play the cards we’ve been dealt without disavowing the past. Bullseye’s been paralyzed and revived before by the Hand, so that has precedent — but we’re asking you to believe there are limits to how many times a man’s spine can be severed before full resurrection is truly a possibility. Editor Steve Wacker and I had a conversation where we were asking each other what life would be like for someone as physical as Bullseye if he were in an iron lung or otherwise incapable of movement. Would he go mad? Would he turn his rage on himself, or would he find some clarity in the notion that being confined to his own head 24/7 pushes him to the next stage of evil? As I see it, though Bullseye’s never been the criminal mastermind type before, I’m confident if you had nothing to do all day for months on end but think about how you’d get revenge on the man who put you in this state — well, anyone that psychotic could come up with a plan. Then add to that how much Bullseye already knows about Daredevil’s past…
Confronting Bullseye even in his present state, where he can’t move, is bound to be an emotional experience for Matt. What does he find most upsetting about Bullseye — that he’s killed many of Matt’s loved ones and put him through hell, or that what Bullseye has become is a living reminder of what Matt did while he was possessed during “Shadowland?”
In our story, the latter is more haunting than the former. Not that Matt isn’t still grieving for the dead, but he’s done a very good job so far about putting his inner demons to rest and turning over a new leaf, and now BAM! he’s confronted with someone who symbolizes his greatest sin and forces him to ask the question: how possessed by a demon was he when he killed Bullseye? Totally? Mostly? Matt wants to believe there was no free will there, but he may have to reconsider.
Bullseye has come up with some devious plans, but due to the injuries he received during “Shadowland” he’s needed allies to help implement them. One of those allies is Lady Bullseye, who took her name in honor of Bullseye because he slaughtered the Yakuza that had imprisoned her as a young girl before they could sell her into slavery. This suggests the bond between the two characters is very strong. How would you describe the dynamic between Bullseye and Lady Bullseye? What does Bullseye mean to her now that she’s an adult?
She’s an independent spirit more than a sidekick, but there’s a deep affection and bond there. As we’ll see in “Daredevil” #27, she went to great lengths herself to engineer Bullseye’s resurrection. Yes, he’s turned into quite a planner, but it began with her back when he was, you know, dead.
Bullseye’s other assistant is the masked ninja assassin known as Ikari,Â who possesses all of Matt’s enhanced senses but can also see. In issues #25 and #26 we saw how deadly Ikari is, but we don’t know his motives. Can you talk at all about what they may be and why he serves Bullseye? Also, who is Ikari under the mask? Is he an established DD character operating under a different identity?
We did toy with making Ikari an established character under that mask, but it felt too cute and precious — plus, no one quite fit the bill. So who was he before he became Ikari? You know the Hand? The band of ninjas? Picture them in your mind. Got it? Okay, Ikari’s the third guy from the left. No, the other left. That one. Seriously though, we’ll get more into Ikari’s backstory soon. Trust me.
Issue #26 ended with Ikari sneaking up on Daredevil in Bullseye’s lair — what can you tell us about the plot and themes in issue #27? How big a fight is the Daredevil vs. Ikari rematch?
Big. Not as big as the huge issue #25 blowout because we have a lot of threads to tie together in #27, but it’s big. Ikari’s not the only one coming at Daredevil, either. Worse, Bullseye’s been planning for this confrontation and has put in place agents all over the tri-state area who are keeping a watchful, menacing eye on Daredevil’s friends and loved ones. So even if Daredevil finds a way out of this trap, what happens to them?
What can you say about the work Chris Samnee and the rest of the artistic team are doing for this story?
The whole art team — Samnee, colorist Javier Rodriguez and letterer Joe Caramagna — should just drop the mic on page 20 and walk away. Oh, good Lord, do these pages look astounding. This may be the best band of brothers I’ve ever been lucky enough to work alongside.
The last time we talked the focus was on Matt and Foggy’s relationship and how important they are to each other, and in issue #26 you played to this when Foggy helps Matt work out the identity of the villain behind his troubles. That scene conveyed the idea Matt Murdock’s an extremely emotional person and Foggy is one of the people in his life that can help ground him and keep his emotions from ruling him. Is that correct?
Yep. Also, and this is something that every comic writer who ever calls up another writer to talk out a story with knows: it’s always easier when it’s someone else’s story. Foggy has a detached perspective on the problem and the mystery that Matt can’t possibly have since he’s in the thick of it.
We’ve always said that, essentially, in that relationship, Foggy’s the book learning and Matt’s the street smarts. Foggy’s pretty emotional, too — but he absolutely is essential to keeping Matt grounded. So, man, it’s
really gonna suck for Matt before long when — wait. I’ve said too much. Next question?
A new storyline begins in July’s “Daredevil” #28. What can you tell us about this story? The solicit suggests Matt’s childhood and his legal profession play big roles in this tale.
True. One of Matt’s bully tormenters from his youth — the kid, in fact, who gave him the nickname “Daredevil” — has come to him for help because he’s in trouble. Matt isn’t terribly inclined to assist this yutz — until he learns the Sons of the Serpent are involved somehow and this bozo’s problem is potentially a situation that could endanger thousands.
Thank you all for reading, supporting and championing “Daredevil.” The whole team appreciates your devotion and would like to remind you none of it’s possible, none of it, without Editor Steve Wacker and Assistant Ellie Pyle, both of whom move Heaven and Earth on a routine basis for us to make sure we’re allowed to do our best work.
“Daredevil” #26 is on sale now