An early afternoon crowd showed up in numbers for an introspective with Marvel Comics' former "Daredevil" creative team, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev. Hosted by Wizard's Mike Cotton and Andy Serwin, the panel took attendees through the most memorable story arcs and biggest controversies of Bendis and Maleev's five-year run on the title, a run known for putting its titular character through the wringer.
The duo began the panel by telling the story of how their collaboration came to be. Bendis recounted his days writing Image Comics' "Sam and Twitch," where he had originally planned on collaborating with Maleev. Though that pairing never came to be, Marvel's Kevin Smith-helmed "Daredevil" needed a new team to help get the book back on schedule. This became an opportunity for the two to finally work together.
Bendis, who had become known for writing crime stories, described his offer from Marvel to take on "Daredevil" as something of a try-out.
"Hey, why don't you take 'Daredevil' until Kevin Smith comes back?" said Bendis to a laughing crowd.
Bendis and Maleev went on to discuss how they approached their first story arc, which included the murder of Daredevil's nemesis, The Kingpin.
"I was out of my mind, in a sense, to make sure we did something special," said Bendis.
"The book has a long history of every single creator who's been on that book doing something spectacular," said Bendis, citing past writers and artists like Frank Miller.
Though aware of Daredevil's celebrated past, Maleev took a different approach to his work on the title.
"I decided not to look at the past issues, so I had no influence from the greats before me. I purposely said 'No, I'm just going to start something of my own and if it works, it works. If I fail it was my choice to do so,'" said Maleev.
The team proceeded to discuss the major events in their run, such as outing Daredevil as Matt Murdoch to the public, the return of Elektra, the eventual return of The Kingpin and Daredevil's defeat of Bullseye.
Between discussing plot points, the panel highlighted Maleev's depiction of New York City locations, including Daredevil's stomping grounds in Hell's Kitchen. Maleev pointed out one panel where he used shots of New York's East Village to depict Hell's Kitchen as an example of the liberties he took while drawing.
"I stayed true to a lot of the locations in New York," said Maleev, who added, "I'm guilty of cheating."
Maleev, who uses photo references when illustrating, also cleared up any misconception about who he used as a model for The Kingpin.
"People think it's Bendis - it's not," said Maleev to chuckles from the audience.
It wasn't all fond memories though. Maleev noted his displeasure with a coloring modification made to censor the violence in one of his panels. In an editorial decision to limit gore, the blood on the face of a severely battered Kingpin was colored blue instead of red. "...which made him look like the first skrull from 'Secret Invasion,'" said Bendis to crowd laughter.
"This is one of my biggest regrets," said Maleev.
To conclude the panel, Bendis described the decision to end his and Maleev's run with Matt Murdoch in jail and his feelings on leaving the book to writer Ed Brubaker.
"Leaving a book is tough stuff," said Bendis, who summarized his appreciation for the direction Brubaker went with the book, "...even though he should be a lot nicer to Mila (Matt Murdoch's estranged wife who has undergone hardship under Brubaker's run), we love Mila."
The hour of reminiscing came to a close with time for only a few questions from the crowd. That's when one fan brought the room back to the present.â€¨â€¨"Was the Elektra on the balcony a skrull?" referring to a slide of the character in an issue from the team's run.
"Not a skrull," said Bendis.
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