Marvel's Next Big Thing: Daredevil

This July, Marvel Comics Man Without Fear swings and swashbuckles his way back into Manhattan, and though the events of the recent "Shadowland" event may have left their scars, "Daredevil" is bouncing back in a classic way thanks to the creative team of Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. To help shed some light on where blind lawyer Matt Murdock will be landing with the new series #1 issue, the publisher today held one of its "Next Big Thing" conference calls with the press, and CBR is on hand LIVE! with continuing updates of all the action.

Joining in on the fun were Waid and Rivera as well as Marvel Senior Editor Steve Wacker. As participants waited for things to get started, Steve Wacker joked, "Paolo, you could be drawing while we're waiting" to which the artist replied "I'm drawing page 13 right now!" Wacker joked that it was "page 13 of issue #7...we're way ahead!"

Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort joined the call as well to start things by marking the passing of legendary "Daredevil" artist Gene Colan.

"Gene sort of defined what Daredevil looked like," said Wacker. "There have been so many great artist over the years on 'Daredevil' from Frank [Miller] to Joe [Quesada] to Michael Lark to the current team, but we all stood on the shoulders of Gene...he accomplished something that was very rare: being an artist with a style completely his own." Brevoort agreed saying, "He invented the way he drew...he was notoriously difficult to ink because so much of his pencils was in shades of grey." The editor noted that Marvel began reproducing his work from the pencils in the '80s before such technology really existed. Brevoort also added that Colan was "like a Muppet" personally as he looked at the world with childlike wonder and really enjoyed everything of his interest with real honest passion.

Waid spoke to Colan's historical impact on "Daredevil" noting how the first years of the book were simply like "a Spider-Man book without Spider-Man" as "It kept changing direction and changing tone until Gene came along and made it what it was." Alonso said that Colan's work was one of the major artists along with Jack Kirby and Joe Kubert who left a huge impact on him as a child. The E-i-C noted that even though his mother dated actor Christopher Lee, he still thinks of Colan's Dracula whenever he imagines the character in his mind.

Wacker promised that since the #1 issue of the new "Daredevil" goes to the printer today, the were able to add some tribute material to Colan in the back of the issue.

"We didn't have the advantage like some guys do of coming on to a book after ten years of sucky stories," Waid said of his challenge taking over in the wake of writers Andy Diggle, Ed Brubaker and Brian Michael Bendis. Waid said his method for following up the darker stories through "Shadowland" was to turn up the superhero dial some and introduce "a bigger sense of advenure, a bigger sense of the world outside Matt Murdock...let's fold him a little more rigidly into the Marvel Universe because he's always been the outsider."

Wacker added that because Daredevil has been through anything, he has no choice but to fear nothing as Waid joked "unless we made him deaf too." The creators felt they ran out of personal tragedies to put him through, but also because it's good to "give him a win" every once in a while.

The series will take Daredevil further out into New York City as Hell's Kitchen is something of a different neighborhood these days than it was in the book's '60s and '70s heyday. Waid said the work on the series compares to his previous Marvel runs like "Fantastic Four" and "Spider-Man" in that DD always threw himself right into adventure. "The challenge here is keeping that heroism alive without ever losing sense of the fact that something bad could happen at every minute." To Waid, Murdock's defining quality is that he gets up every morning and just goes out into the world no matter what.

Foggy Nelson will continue to play a big role as Murdock's legal partner, but "Foggy has suspicions," Waid said. "He can't put his finger on it, but there's something off about Matt that will drive their relationship into the future." Even though the book will start on their friendship, the cast will build out as the book goes on including a new District Attorney of whom Wacker said "Paolo's design for her is ridiculously hot." For now, villains like the Kingpin will not appear but will be replaced by Marvel villains he's never come against. It was Rivera who suggested Klaw, the Master of Sound who appears in the first arc.

The call then bounced ideas for future stories back and forth. Wacker wanted to see DD mix it up with Silver Surfer (Waid liked the idea) while Alonso championed Batroc the Leaper to much agreement. "You just witnesses Editor-in-Chiefing, everybody!" joked Wacker.

The art team's striking styles came up. "I couldn't ask for two better thinking artists...I love the fact that neither of them are just art robots," Waid said. Rivera noted that in bouncing ideas off of Martin and Waid both, he felt like a much more integral part of the book. The artist praised Daredevil as a character who allows for artistic play both in the used of shadow and darkness as well as his status as "the superhero who rules the rooftops" more than anyone.

The call was opened up to the press, starting with questions on the tone of the series and how a more superheroic take on DD has been a harder sell since Frank Miller's legendary run. Wacked explained that all good takes on the book have their time. "These things are all pendulums, they swing one way for a while, then they go back in another direction. That's what we've done here...when you get a new team on the book, they generally want to try something new. Even with Brian to Ed Brubaker, while those are tonally similar, Ed went in a wildly different direction...it's all about finding the thing that hasn't been done."

Asked whether the fallout of "Shadowland" will play heavily in the book, Waid said "There's definitely fallout from that stuff, but not so much 'here's something from issue #3 of Shadowland." Instead, the emotional issues in Matt's relationships will simmer as he does his usual boxing up of his emotional problems.

Murdock will also be able to practice law again, however the writer said because so many people know or suspect that he is Daredevil, it will change how he approaches the law and his clientele. Both Waid and Wacker promised that the legal drama aspect of the book will not be forgotten.

Daredevil's status as a New Avenger will be reflected in the book but not in an intrusive way. Wacker and Brevoort agreed the relationship will work similar to how "Amazing Spider-Man" and "New Avengers" play off each other.

Waid said that he's looking to influences from recent runs and recent villains including The Matador and the Purple Man. "I think the power of persuasion that the Purple Man has is great" because Daredevil is always at a disadvantage when he can't punch his way out of the problem, he explained.

As for the upcoming Klaw story, Waid said that he tried to conceive his scripts in ways that left the graphic interpretations of the powers of characters up to his artists. Rivera said he's been working the graphic artist elements of his toolbox, but that the best moments in the story are when Daredevil's powers "go haywire" as simply representing outlines of people to express Daredevil's senses would be boring. Wacker said that they're hoping this will be the most exciting visual book at Marvel, and that in five years you'll be seeing many other comics trying to ape what "Daredevil" does. He noted that while both Rivera and Martin draw stories for issue #1, they'll each be taking separate issues as the book goes along.

The romantic entanglements came up with Waid noting that Murdock "really listens to women" and that the ladies in the book who interact with him will know that he's not interested in them for looks but for who they really are. The team has been talking about women from the broader Marvel U who could come in and play off Daredevil aside from the legal ladies who appear in the book.

Aside from the incoming appearance of Captain America, the team has also discussed other Marvel guest stars including Falcon, Silver Surfer and Spider-Man with Waid noting how Wacker said that Spider-Man "looks at Daredevil and sees the hero he wants to grow up to be." Wacked added, "Even in the midst of his dark personal journeys, Daredevil still fought the Hulk" even in Frank Miller's run. So the focus moving forward will be making sure DD is in the Marvel U but the characters who appear will "come into Daredevil's world" Waid explained, using Silver Surfer as a prime example where DD will not fly out into space.

Stay tuned to CBR News for more on "Daredevil" and everything Marvel in the weeks ahead!

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