Waid, Rivera & Martin Give the "Daredevil" His Due

Part of being a hero means overcoming adversity. In 1964's, writer Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett introduced Marvel Comics fans to a hero who did exactly that, even moreso than most. The titular character of "Daredevil," a young Matt Murdock, was robbed of his sight as a boy when he was blinded by a mysterious, radioactive substance. The same accident also heightened Murdock's other remaining senses to superhuman levels, with his body developing a form of "radar" sense. Training and Murdock's innate sense of justice allowed him to master his new heightened senses and become a champion of the people of New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. As a lawyer Murdock battled injustice in the court room, and as the costumed vigilante Daredevil he hit the streets to directly tackle the worlds of street crime and super villainy.

Over the last several decades, Murdock's life has been a tumultuous roller coaster, culminating in a particularly wild ride in recent years. First, his secret identity was leaked to the public, then his wife was driven insane by the villainous Mister Fear. His grief over that incident allowed him to be corrupted by the ninja assassin cult known as the Hand, leading him to murder his arch-enemy, the psychopathic assassin known as Bullseye. During the "Shadowland" event, several other New York based heroes freed Daredevil from the Hand's thrall, but Murdock's shame and horror over what he did caused him to flee New York.

In the recently concluded "Daredevil: Reborn" miniseries, writer Andy Diggle and artist Davide Gianfelice had Murdock deal with the emotional fall out from "Shadowland" and ultimately return to New York. This July, writer Mark Waid and artists Paolo River and Marcos Martin will begin Murdock's quest to reestablish himself as one of the Big Apple's chief crime fighters with the launch of an all new "Daredevil" ongoing series. CBR News spoke with Waid and Rivera about the book and some of the pages from "Daredevil" #1 Marvel provided us with exclusively.

CBR News: Mark, Paolo and Marcos are both visually stunning artists who each have their own unique styles. What can readers expect from them as they alternate on "Daredevil?"

Mark Waid: They're alike in that they're both masters of storytelling and page design. Both Paolo and Marcos are very smart guys who will eventually wise up and write their own stories -- but I'll keep them chained down until then. Marcos is a little more experimental with page layout, which is exciting; Paolo is very, very good at thinking every moment through and choreographing the scenes in the most dynamic way. They're both gifts from God as far as I'm concerned.

Paolo, what's it like working with Mark? Which elements of his scripts do you find most appealing as an artist?

Paolo Rivera: Working with Waid is a dream come true. His "Kingdom Come" was one of the first books that got me into actually reading comics, as opposed to just looking at the art. As for the scripts, his strength lies in character-building, seamlessly threaded through engaging action. I've always liked Daredevil, but I never had a real sense of his personality. Within the first couple pages of this issue, I knew exactly who he was. He cracks jokes, but his sense of humor is much drier than, say, Spidey's. And his intelligence, especially as a litigator, bubbles just below the surface.

But we knew Mark was a great writer. For me, a large part of the excitement is being on the ground level with the project, something that is a first for me. Usually, I receive a script and take it to my cave to give it form. In this case, Mark (from his cave, presumably) has made himself available for discussion and is open to suggestions, whether it's the addition of a panel, or an idea for a new billy club.

As if that weren't enough, his experience as an editor dictates his professionalism. As the writer, he knows he has a responsibility not just to Marvel, but to every man down the assembly line. Sometimes that means getting us pages to work on before the whole script is done, something that is much appreciated in a business ruled by deadlines.

You mention getting to know Daredevil right away in the first few pages of Mark's script for the first issue. How does it feel to be drawing the character? And which of his physical and emotional qualities do you want to emphasize in your depictions of him?

Rivera: This is definitely a dream of mine, and something Steve Wacker has hinted at for some time now. I have to give him a lot of credit for orchestrating a project that is suited to me. I don't have the chops to do a monthly book, but by sharing artistic duties with Marcos Martin (who happens to be one of my favorite artists), I can hope to be part of an ongoing project.

As for Daredevil, his physical qualities lend themselves to dynamic art. I like to think of him as mostly operating at night, when he has a distinct advantage over everyone else. In concert with the playground of New York rooftops, the opportunities for playing with light and shadow are legion. Furthermore, he is one of the greatest gymnasts in the world, so I've been studying the musculature and signature moves of Olympians. I've even been watching white cane walking techniques on YouTube to make sure I get it right.

Also, my Daredevil won't look at you. He doesn't need to. As often as not, he'll be fighting while facing the "wrong" way, something that I think would be fairly disconcerting to an opponent. Vision is such an important part of human life that it dominates every aspect of how we conduct ourselves, from the tilt of a neck to the arrangement of furniture. When I draw either Matt or Daredevil, I want his distinctive "point of view" to be apparent merely from his body language. On one level, Matt's blindness is an act -- an interesting aspect of his personality by itself -- but on another level, he really should conduct himself differently than any other superhero. When I draw Spidey, I do my best to make sure he doesn't touch the ground; with Daredevil, I want him to always look like he's listening.

Mark, some Marcos' preview pages we're looking at today really suggest that you're very interested in exploring Matt's blindness, emphasizing Matt's powers as part of the visual language of the book.

Waid: Absolutely. Not to an unheard-of, fantastic degree -- Matt's good, but he can't hear a bird chirp a block away or read a magazine page with a wave of his hand. But I'm really, really interested in what it's like being in Matt's world, what it's like to feel like you're touching everything around you all at once, or how you teach yourself to remember people by their scents or heartbeats. We've found a few applications of Daredevil's senses that haven't ever really been considered before, and I'm constantly finding more as I think on them.

In some of Paolo's preview pages, Daredevil is going toe-to-toe with the Spot, one of SPider-Man's more offbeat villains. What made you want to pit this character against Matt?

Waid: I wanted a super villain, but not one so powerful that it would be an uneven fight. I was leaning toward the Spot after I'd decided I really wanted that opening to emphasize Daredevil's acrobatic fighting style -- but when I asked myself, "What does Daredevil's radar sense 'see' when it looks at the Spot," I knew I had something.

Paolo, What was it like drawing the DD-Spot fight? Are the Spot's powers hard to bring to life on the page? Or does his ability to reach through holes and attack a character almost anywhere sort of free things up for you and make drawing the character fun?

Rivera: That whole sequence was a great call by Mark. The Spot is a formidable adversary, but Daredevil has a unique advantage: you can't sneak up on him. Beyond that, while those spots look black to us, he can actually "see" where they go. It all adds up to a fun sequence that introduces the uninitiated to Daredevil's singular abilities.

Any final thoughts you guys would like to share about your work on "Daredevil?"

Waid: Matt's my new favorite character to write. He's a good but very flawed man trying to make a difference in the 21st century -- and wait until you see his new career choice in the months to come.

Rivera: I just wanted to thank my Dad, who is inking over my pencils. I could not have accepted this gig without his help, so I am greatly indebted to him (as if I wasn't already). He went from 0 to 60 on this project, never having inked professionally before, to meeting and exceeding my exacting demands. My art is my life and I trust him with both!

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