European holidays can mean different things to different people. To some they mean relaxing trips to historical sites and gourmet cuisine. For Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil, a vacation on the continent means battling supervillains and hunting the man he believes was involved in his friend’s death. This is the premise of the current storyline, “The Devil Takes a Ride” in Marvel Comics’ “Daredevil.” CBR News spoke with writer Ed Brubaker about the book.
When he was brainstorming “The Devil Takes a Ride,” Brubaker was searching for the right formula of pulp mystery and blustery action. “The story is the ultimate sort of mixture of Daredevil as a swashbuckler and Daredevil as a sort of noir pulp hero,” Brubaker told CBR News. “I was trying to find a balance between that and I realized that there is already one in the noir genre. There is the private eye who goes globetrotting looking for the femme fatale or searching for supposed prize.
“The story is basically a hard driving mystery – he’s on the run and in disguise; he’s using a fake name,” Brubaker continued. “He’s trying to find this Alton Lennox guy that he knows is both the person who paid Danny Rand to dress up as Daredevil and is the lawyer of the guy who stabbed Foggy. Somehow he wants to get the guy. So, it’s his hunt for him. He finds him early on and things go in a lot of different directions after that.”
Readers of “Daredevil” #88 found out that Daredevil is misinformed for pursuing Alton Lennox because of his involvement in Foggy Nelson’s murder, since Foggy is not dead. “He thinks he’s hunting for the person involved in the killing of Foggy because he doesn’t know that Foggy is not actually dead,” Brubaker explained. “And just to satisfy the three people online who will tell me that I’m retarded and that he should have been able to tell that Foggy’s body wasn’t in the coffin, you’re crazy. That’s not how his radar sense works. He can’t tell the difference between one corpse that’s filled with embalming fluid and inside a coffin and another one.”
Daredevil’s hunt for Alton Lennox began in Monaco in issue #89. “The second part of it [issue #90 which hits stores October 25] he’s in this little town called Centra in Portugal,” Brubaker said. “Then he’s lead from there to Paris where he stays for a few issues and then ultimately ends up in a different country that I don’t want to reveal yet because I don’t want to spoil the conclusion.”
As Daredevil visits each of these exotic European locales he’ll find lots of action and lots of trouble. “There’s a lot of fighting,” Brubaker stated. “Also a lot of cool scenes of Daredevil swinging around European cities and getting the crap beaten out of him and him beating the crap out of people. I’m looking at a page right now where he gets hit by a car. It’s beautiful (laughs).”
Some of the fights Daredevil engages in while he’s in Europe will be with supervillains. Brubaker couldn’t reveal the identities of all of the villains in the story. “Tombstone is in it,” Brubaker said. “He’s bad ass. Also I did sort of a new take on and old Daredevil villain and updated him for the post-Bendis/Maleev era. He was always a fairly goofy Daredevil villain, but this is not the same guy. He’s sort of the successor to the tile. I brought back the Matador [who made his debut in Daredevil #89] and he’s badass. We gave him a new costume though. He’s not wearing knickers and a weird little hat [laughs]. He actually looks like Alex Maleev.”
With Matt Murdock in Europe, readers shouldn’t expect to see any “Civil War” tie-ins in “Daredevil.” “I’ve got more than enough story,” Brubaker said, “I hadn’t planned it that way, it was just very convenient that my plans for the first year of Daredevil was that he was in prison and then in Europe. When ‘Civil War’ came up, I was looking at it and I’m like, ‘Oh it times out perfectly.’ I don’t have to deal with it in Daredevil at all until it’s over. Then I just have to deal with the stuff I was already going to have to deal with. In a way it just adds a few conversations to some scenes I was already going to have to write about Matt and his place in the Marvel Universe. It was very convenient that we had the idea of having Danny Rand dress up as Daredevil because then it gave them a Daredevil to be able to use in ‘Civil War.'”
Matt Murdock might not be directly involved in “Civil War,” but his situation weighs heavily on the mind of combatants on both sides of that conflict. “It might be in one of Brian’s [Brian Bendis} ‘Avengers’ issues, I think in the Luke Cage issue, he points out Matt Murdock as being the prime example of why no one should want to register because the more people who know who you are and what you do, the more dangerous your life gets. Matt is the prime example, bur what is interesting is that he can be used as a prime example on either side because it’s like, ‘Well, yeah that is what happens when you don’t register. You get outed and thrown in prison.’ It’s also interesting because I think Matt has been a character who has always been really free with his secret identity. Come on, the whole Mike Murdock thing? Who fell for that?”
When Matt Murdock returns to the United States, he’ll have to deal with the aftermath of “Civil War” and his other secret identity related problems, but only if he wants to go back to the way things were. “He’ll have to deal with those things if he wants to be Daredevil,” Brubaker explained. “That’s another question, ‘At the end of it all will he want to be Daredevil?” or will he just want to be a lawyer and be married? What’s he going to do in this new world? Will he be able to get his license back? What’s going to happen with the FBI? These are all questions that will be needed to addressed in his life when he eventually comes back to America because I can’t keep him in Europe forever. Maybe he’ll move to San Francisco again and shack up with a hot redhead? That always works for a year [laughs].”
Brubaker couldn’t reveal much about what the future holds for Matt Murdock in upcoming issues of “Daredevil,” but he could say that some supervillains will definitely be causing problems for Murdock in the storyline that comes after “The Devil Takes a Ride.” “It takes place in New York,” Brubaker said. “It involves a bunch of classic Daredevil villains and sort of sets the stage for a lot of trouble coming Matt’s way. Just because we got him out of prison and some stuff will be resolved does not mean that Matt Murdock’s life is going to get any easier necessarily. Just because Foggy’s not dead and Matt is not in a prison cell with people waiting outside to shank him does not mean that his life is going to necessarily get any better.
“An old classic Daredevil villain that I always thought could be used to a better extent than they were being used is going to come back. There are hints about him in the [ “The Devil Takes a Ride”] and then he sort of becomes a bigger presence during the third arc and his attacks on Daredevil are mainly like the fourth arc of the book.
“I’ve got the next year of the book pretty well mapped out,” continued Brubaker. “It’s pretty twisted. I have the final scenes in my 24 th or maybe 25 th issue. I have those already written which is funny because I haven’t even written the end of ‘Ride’ yet, but I know the end of the second storyline after that. I know the end of all the stories. The last two issues of ‘The Devil Takes a Ride’ are really going to blow people’s minds because I think because the whole European vacation, swashbuckling stuff leads right back around in a loop basically. This is just sort of Matt’s journey to get there.”
Brubaker is assisted in chronicling Matt’s journey by artists Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano and he wants readers to be prepared to be amazed by the visuals the duo are providing for upcoming issues. “If people think that they’ve seen what Michael and Stefano have to show on the art they haven’t seen anything yet,” Brubaker stated. “The art that I’ve seen for the next couple of issues is by far the best art that these guys have done and by far the best art we’ve had in ‘Daredevil’ so far.
“It’s interesting because right now they’re working a lot faster than they’ve ever worked just because we’re trying to catch up on stuff,” Brubaker continued. “So Michael has gone back to penciling. Some of the penciling is loose and most of it is pretty tight, but it’s really interesting because Stefano is doing inks and then finishes on backgrounds and stuff. These two guys, they formed a really interesting team ever since they started working on ‘Gotham Central.’ I really can almost not tell the difference between either of their ink lines now. It’s almost like Will Eisner, who always had a team of like three or four assistants; one who drew all the background people, one who drew all the backgrounds and one who did all the lettering. So, Eisner did the breakdowns basically and inked all the people he wanted to ink, sometimes just the faces even because they were doing like eight pages a week or something.
“I kind of feel like Michael and Stefano have formed into that, where Stefano is like the other four people (laughs),” Brubaker said. “But when he needs to be he can be all those people as well. It’s really fascinating – if he needs to, Michael can just give him some real rough layouts and it will look like Michael did the whole thing. They have become a really tight knit team.”
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