Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and sixty-ninth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Daredevil run was always going to end with Daredevil in prison.
I’m Going With False
Recently, a few friends of mine were talking about runs on comic book series ending (it was in relation to the upcoming “Fresh Start” that Marvel is doing, so resolving stuff before the new “Fresh Start” creative teams took over). I was talking about how it must be difficult getting major plot changes approved if you’re about to be replaced by another writer. A friend of mine, Jeremy, though, noted how Brian Michael Bendis famously ended his Daredevil run with a major cliffhanger that the next writer, Ed Brubaker, had to resolve.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Bendis and artist Alex Maleev’s historic run on Daredevil, well, maybe stop reading this article now. Otherwise, let’s take a look…
So in Daredevil #80, an injured Matt Murdock ends up getting arrested by a federal agent who had been on his tail for quite some time (since Bendis and Maleev had revealed Matt Murdock’s Daredevil secret identity earlier in their run)…
That’s a pretty crazy way to end your penultimate issue, right?
So how are they going to get out of this in time to wrap things up before the new creative team of Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark took over?
Well, as it turned out, they weren’t! The issue (and the run) ends up with Matt Murdock being thrown into jail while awaiting trial and so, too, does Wilson Fisk end up in the same jail (Fisk is the one who helped the government nail Murdock, but then they turned around and betrayed him and arrested him for an unrelated crime to the immunity that they had given him for helping them take down Murdock)…
Sure enough, Brubaker and Lark had to start off their own excellent run on the series with Daredevil in jail…
It’s a major shock for a writer to end a long run with a cliffhanger like that and, typically, it WOULD be quite a bold move to just force the person who followed you to deal with the resolution of your arc.
However, that’s not precisely what happened here.
What happened was, Brian told me he was leaving DD, and for a few weeks, I thought, do I want to write that book? Especially following such an amazing run? And so I kicked some ideas around, thinking, what could you do, to follow that, what would the next logical step be? And I decided, you could either undo the Identity problem and revert to the old status quo, or you could take what Brian did and run with it as far as you can — and to me, that meant putting Matt behind bars. I called up Bendis and asked him what he thought, and he said something like — I’ve been wanting to end my run with him in jail, but I figured that’d be too mean to whoever followed, but if that’s where you want to take him, then why not start with him there? So, really, the only thing that changed for me was how quickly he got to prison. He was going to be put there at the end of my first arc, initially, but this was even better. I got to jump right into the deep end, and I loved that we actually had a hand-off with a cliff-hanger ending, in some ways. That’s never done in comics these days.
Bendis told the story basically the same way to CBR’s own amazing Dave Richards back in 2006,
“If not for Ed, I wouldn’t get to do this ending,” Bendis explained. “This is the ending that I had originally hoped to do, but I realized it was the most obnoxious thing you could do to the new writer and I wasn’t sure who the new writer would be when we announced we were wrapping it up.
“I’ve known Ed for years,” Bendis continued. “We were talking about ‘Daredevil’ and I was telling him where it’s going to go and Ed said, ‘You should just end it there.’ And I said, ‘That’s where I want to end it.’ So he goes, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ And I go, ‘You’ll pick it up from there?’ and he said, ‘Absolutely.’ I was thrilled to bits because this is something I would not normally do to someone.”
So yeah, sure sounds like Bendis would not have ended his run the way he did had it not been for Ed Brubaker’s specific understanding of the resolution.
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed – Was TaleSpin originally going to star Launchpad McQuack?
OK, that’s it for this week!
Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don’t even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!
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See you all next week!
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