INTERVIEW: Soule's "Daredevil" Reinvents Itself on the Mean Streets of Chinatown

As the costumed crimefighter Daredevil, Matt Murdock fights for justice both within the law as an attorney and beyond it as a costumed vigilante. That duality is crucial to who he is, and recently led to him leaving the New York neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen for San Francisco, one of the only places he could practice law following the outing of his secret identity. In the latest volume of Marvel Comics' "Daredevil," writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee have let the Man Without Fear make a home for himself in the Golden Gate City, but many fans have wondered if wondered if Matt could ever practice law again should he return to the Big Apple.

With the announcement of Marvel's "All-New, All-Different" initiative, that question will at last be answered when the new team of writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Garney kick off a brand new "Daredevil" series that picks up eight months after the events of "Secret Wars" and finds Matt Murodck mysteriously back in New York City, his secret identity once again intact and practicing law.

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In his Daredevil guise, Matt will be patrolling and defending a new neighborhood of Manhattan alongside a new sidekick. CBR News spoke with Soule, himself a practicing attorney, about the appeal of writing a superhero lawyer, Matt Murdock's new career as an Assistant District Attorney and Daredevil's new partner, He also discusses Ron Garney's noir-infused art and the role it will play in bringing a very dark version of New York's Chinatown neighborhood will play in his upcoming run.

CBR News: Back when we chatted about his appearances in "She-Hulk" it was clear you had a real love for Daredevil. What's it like for you now to have the opportunity to write Matt Murdock's monthly adventures? Does the character have any special significance for you given your other chosen profession?

Charles Soule: It's an honor, a responsibility and a challenge -- but as a writer, challenges are pretty much a necessity if you want to write something that's any damn good. A while back, right when I signed my Marvel exclusive, I mentioned in some interviews that one of the reasons I did that was to reduce my title count a little, so as to open up my bandwidth to focus on telling some deep stories that could really dig into character in an interesting way. (That's not to say I wasn't trying before, but you can always do more.)

"Daredevil" is a book that I think and hope will demonstrate what I'm trying to do. There's always been an inherent complexity to him, which we've seen in many of the signature runs in the past, from Waid/Rivera/Samnee to Miller/Romita Jr. to Bendis/Maleev all the way back to Lee/Everett (not to mention all the other incredible talents who have written and drawn Matt Murdock's adventures over the years). I think Daredevil is a character you can really sink your teeth into, and that's what I'm trying to do.

Plus, there's the whole lawyer thing -- I've been practicing law for a while, and it gives me a perspective on Matt's double life that I think is somewhat unique. I can put myself in his shoes and really think about what it would be like to go out at night and punch criminals. In a word: difficult. In another word: complicated. In two more: completely nuts. The conflict between a guy trying to be a lawyer, with all the ethical obligations that go along with that, while being a costumed vigilante at the same time -- in many ways, it's absolutely crazy to even attempt it. But somehow, it makes sense to Matt, and that conflict is at the heart of a lot of the stories I'm planning to tell.

Charles Soule Comments on Upcoming "Daredevil" Run

Your "Daredevil" run jumps eight months into Matt Murdock's future and the character will have undergone some changes. Some I understand will be shrouded in mystery -- like the fact that Matt's identity is once again secret -- but let's chat about some of the things you can discuss, like Matt's new career as a prosecuting attorney. What kind of cases will he be handling? And will your stories involve court room drama?

I think it would be silly to step away from the courtroom side of what Matt does, but I'm also trying to keep it organic. I think of what I'm trying to do as more like a "Law & Order" episode where Daredevil is the Order and Matt's the Law. You're correct that Matt's identity is secret again -- no one knows that he and Daredevil are the same person. The how of that is a long-form story I'm planning to spin out for a while, but the why of it will be apparent pretty early on. Matt feels like he had to have both sides of his life operating independently from one another (at least publicly), and he did something to make that happen. The consequences will shake out for a while, though.

As an Assistant District Attorney for New York County (AKA the Manhattan DA's office), Matt will be involved in prosecuting criminal cases of all sorts, from minor drug busts all the way up to high-level organized crime. His first case will involve a cult leader named Tenfingers, who is quite the weird, awesome guy. I just saw the first images of him from Ron Garney, and he looks perfect. If you like odd dudes named Tenfingers, anyway.

You mentioned conflict and ethical obligations earlier. Does Matt feel any sense of conflict between his role as a vigilante and his duty to the law as an ADA? Does he feel the evidence he obtains as Daredevil is admissible in court? What kind of impact would it have on his job if his identity ever got outed again?

Actually, I think Matt feels that the two sides of his life are much more aligned now than they were when he was working as a defense attorney -- he's able to sort of investigate as Daredevil, and then prosecute cases as Matt Murdock. Previously, he just had to hand people off to the system and hope for the best -- now he can see a case all the way through and makes sure a bad guy gets the sentence he deserves.

Evidence obtained as Daredevil actually would be admissible, since he's technically a private citizen, as far as anyone knows. However, Matt would know that ethically, he's a government actor, and so his searches as Daredevil are subject to the same search and seizure rules as a police search (i.e., you need a warrant, probable cause, etc.). So, I don't think he'd try to flaunt the law so brazenly. Also, any defense attorney worth their salt would probably be able to make an argument that since we don't know who Daredevil is, we don't know for sure that he's not, say, a cop, and therefore subject to 4th Amendment rules. Judges need to err on the side of giving defendants every chance (that whole presumed innocent thing), so the evidence would probably be tossed.

If I put all of that in the book at some point, which is far from impossible, forgive me for laying it out here first.

Of course the other change in Daredevil's life is he now has a sidekick. What can you tell us about this young man? What kind of dynamic do he and Matt have when your series begins? Does Matt's new partner have any special skills or powers that will help him fight crime?

Well, he's great. His name is Samuel Chung (he's got a hero name too, but I'm saving that for now.) I'm having a blast writing a character who is new to the heroic lifestyle. He's seeing a lot of these bad guys for the first time, meeting Daredevil's allies for the first time, and those scenes are always great. Just when he thinks he has a handle on how weird things are, they get even weirder.

Matt is training him for a number of reasons, but part of it is that he feels like he needs to give back, in a way. It's pretty clear that the new guy is going to do the costumed vigilante thing with or without Matt's approval, so he wants to make sure that if he's going to do it, at least he won't get himself killed.

The apprentice is what folks in my profession (my other one) call a dreamer. He was brought to this country illegally by his parents from China when he was young, and while he's grown up here and considers himself pretty much American, he's not a citizen and doesn't really have a path to become one. So, many sections of American society are closed to him -- it's hard for him to go to college, hard to get a good job, etc. There are millions of kids in his position in the U.S. today, and I thought it was a really interesting perspective to write from. I've been working in immigration for a long time, and I've met a lot of people like Sam Chung.

He's a hell of a fighter, scrappy, but he also has a really cool power that gets a neat reveal in the stories to come, so I'm thinking I'll save that. It ties directly in to Daredevil's abilities as well -- they make a neat duo.

The presence of a new partner in Matt's life of course begs the question of where is his former legal partner, Foggy Nelson? Can you comment on that all? Will readers know Foggy's fate when this new series begins or will that be another ongoing mystery?

Foggy's in it, but his role has evolved since the last time we saw him. I think that Mark and Chris have been doing such an amazing job telling a Foggy story in their run that I will let him rest for a while, at least in the way we're used to seeing him. To put it another way, Matt's working as a prosecutor in the DA's office, and Foggy is not. But he's in the book.

Let's talk about the other presence in Matt's life, the villains he'll run afoul of as Daredevil. Now we know Matt's new sidekick is from Chinatown, and it sounds like that area will play a significant role in your series, correct? Does this mean we'll see Daredevil battling the lord of Chinatown's underworld, Mister Negative?

Chinatown is definitely a huge character in the first arc. That's sort of the new sidekick's version of Hell's Kitchen, and it's just neat to see Daredevil in kind of a different environment. Plus, man, when you see how Ron draws it -- tons of shadows and neon and cool silhouettes. I'm really enjoying telling Chinatown-set stories, and building up the neighborhood, so I think there's every chance we'll stay down there for a while.

An appearance by Mr. Negative is not impossible, but no immediate plans -- we'll see what the future brings.

What's your sense of Matt's rogues gallery as a whole? Are you initially interested in playing with some of its established members or adding new toys to the toy box?

The first two villains will be brand new -- one is the Tenfingers fellow I mentioned earlier, and the other one I'll wait to start talking about until closer to that story getting rolling, but I'm very excited about him/her. I think Daredevil's due to have some new folks putting him through the wringer, and these baddies will certainly do that.

I'm not going to completely ignore the established rogues gallery, though. I think I've got a pretty cool Bullseye story in me, for one thing, and I'd love to take Daredevil on the road, maybe out east -- but time will tell!
Let's talk about the work being done by the book's artist, Ron Garney. One of the things I love about Ron's work is the sense of physicality he brings to characters like Wolverine and Captain America and the mood and tone he brings to his stories. It sounds like both of those qualities will really be on display here, correct? What's it like working with Ron and what do you enjoy most about his style?

Mood and tone! Oh man. The book feels noir-y, and very intense. Shadows everywhere -- Daredevil almost haunts the book. I want one of Ron's pages on my wall very much. I know that there's almost a template for the response to this question: "my collaborator's great! So happy to be working together!" but I really do love what Ron is doing. It is 100% perfect for the scripts I'm doing -- fluid and beautiful. The world feels alive, crackling with dark energy. I'm focusing more on how it makes me feel when I look at it rather than specifics, but you'll see. I honestly feel like we could put the book out in black and white.

Finally, a book like "Daredevil" allows you the opportunity to play with the corner of the Marvel Universe where street crime and super heroics collide. In other words, he can interact with all sorts of interesting characters like the various spider powered heroes that call New York home and his frequent adversary, the Punisher. Will we see some of these characters in your initial stories? Are you interested in writing Frank Castle again?

I am very interested in writing a Frank Castle story -- whether it's in "Daredevil" or somewhere else is the question -- but yes, I'm definitely very aware of the great corner of the Marvel Universe that Daredevil shares with characters like the Punisher, Elektra, Spider-Man and more. In particular, I think it would be interesting to have the new apprentice bump up against Miles Morales, and the rest of Mark Waid's "All-New All-Different Avengers," since so many of them are also young heroes.

Zillions of stories to tell, honestly -- it can be hard to narrow it down.

Last thought -- Ron and I are trying to do something fresh here, that feels new while acknowledging the past. I've had my Daredevil in my head for a long time, and it seems like Ron has as well -- so that's what you're getting. We look forward to getting going on the ride!

"Daredevil" #1 arrives this fall from Marvel Comics.

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