Leaving the Devil Behind: Ed Brubaker on Leaving Daredevil

Ed Brubaker on Leaving Daredevil

Daredevil #118, due in April

At some point, you just have to leave the Devil behind.

For Daredevil writer Ed Brubaker, that point will be issue #500 of the series, hitting comic shops this summer. The departure will mark the end of an acclaimed three year run on the series which saw him pick up the initial threads from previous writer Brian Bendis and expand both the character and the series in his own direction. With issue #500, Brubaker will hand the baton, or billy club to Andy Diggle, who’s champing at the bit for his shot at the hero of Hell’s Kitchen.

Meanwhile, Brubaker’s final storyline, the currently-running “Return of the King” sees Daredevil’s “frenemy” The Kingpin returning to New York after an extended absence. The mission of the Kingpin? A simple one – utterly destroy the ninja network known as The Hand. Thing is, Daredevil was just granted leadership of The Hand by Lady Bullseye – a gift he does not want.

So yeah – Daredevil is pretty much okay with it when the Kingpin tells him he wants DD’s help in taking down the ninja clan.

We spoke with Brubaker about leaving the series, as well as how his and Sean Phillips’ Incognito miniseries, starring a “reformed” and witness-relocated supervillain is doing. Short answer – very, very well.

Daredevil #118, page 2

Newsarama: Ed, Daredevil seemed like the perfect home for you in the Marvel Universe, so what brought on the decision that it was time to go? Was this something that you had planned for a while, or something that came up relatively quickly, or at least sooner than you were anticipating?

Ed Brubaker: I'd say sooner than I was anticipating, maybe... but it was a very natural progression.

What happened was I was planning out the next arc, around the time I was starting Lady Bullseye, and I knew we'd be building towards a big "oh shit" moment at the end of “Return of the King,” in Daredevil #500, and I just kind of had this revelation that that moment would be the best place for another writer to take over the series. Sort of like how Brian left me with Matt in prison, one of those "what the hell is going to happen now?" things... and I sort of liked the idea of making that a tradition. The Daredevil challenge, basically.

Daredevil #118, page 3

And once that occurred to me, I just knew it was time for me to move on. I always try to stick to what Keith Richards said "I wanna walk before they make me run." So while I probably still have DD stories in me that I could tell, and I'd love to spend more time in Matt and Foggy's lives, it just felt like the right time.

There was no behind the scenes nonsense, sad to say for the internet conspiracy theorists, and contrary to what some have said, I loved my time working on this book, it was a dream come true, really, and I always gave it my best. I just didn't want to overstay my welcome. Part of working on books you don't own is knowing when it's time to move on, I've learned over the years.

And knowing it was going to be our last arc, I think, gave us all this blast of extra energy to make sure we really go out with a bang.

And once that occurred to me, I just knew it was time for me to move on. I always try to stick to what Keith Richards said "I wanna walk before they make me run." So while I probably still have DD stories in me that I could tell, and I'd love to spend more time in Matt and Foggy's lives, it just felt like the right time.

Daredevil #118, page 7

(And just to cut off any speculation - I have no plans to leave Captain America anytime in the foreseeable future. They may have to make me run on that one, someday).

NRAMA: Did you have any say, or suggestions when it came to your replacement on the book? In either case, how do you think Andy is going to work out?

EB: Warren Simons and I batted a few names around and Andy's was at the top of that very short list, but ultimately, it was going to be down to Warren and Joe, just like it was when I got hired for the gig. Luckily, everyone at Marvel is loving his Thunderbolts run so far, so it was a done deal pretty quickly.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how Andy picks up the billy club and runs with it. I'm a big fan of his work, and when I did my first issue, Andy actually wrote to me to ask if he could see the script, so I know he's been following the series and I know he was thrilled to get this shot, just as I was when I got it.

NRAMA: As we mentioned when we spoke with Andy about coming on to the series, and as you pointed out, back when you and Michael came on, you and Brian had a deal that you would pick up from his threads - so you and Andy have the same type of deal?

Daredevil #118, page 14

EB: It's just like with me and Brian... We discussed where I was leaving it, and I asked if there was anything specific I could do to help him pick it up from there, but ultimately, he's left with a huge challenge, just like I was. He's starting totally behind the eight ball, which just feels appropriate for a book like DD and a character like Matt Murdock.

NRAMA: So what issue will be your last?

EB: 500 - a big double-size extravaganza.

NRAMA: Looking at the “Return of the King” storyline - bringing the Kingpin back into Daredevil's world will be your last major arcs on the series. In your larger framework for the stories you were looking to tell, why did you choose this point to bring Kingpin back on stage?

EB: This was always the plan, basically. It all comes full circle, back to the beginning of our run, in the prison arc. All the chickens are coming home to roost in Matt's life. Plus, I'd been wanting to do that Kingpin-centric solo issue for over a year... to really try to show something of the Kingpin we hadn't seen before.

NRAMA: But yet, as he said in issue #117, Kingpin clearly sees this war against The Hand as his final battle. That's quite a statement for someone like him to make. What happened to the giant of a man, both physically and in spirit to bring him this low? This is hardly the confidence and braggadocio one expects when you think of the Kingpin…

EB: You'll just have to keep reading to see what's going on with Fisk. He's one of the greatest modern villains, I think, a real Shakespearian-level character. If you read issue #116, you got all you need to know to see why he is where he is, but there's still more twisted stuff to come.

Daredevil #118, page 20

NRAMA: Can’t let you get out of this without a tease at #118 - something more than "the battle begins..." Who gets the first licks in?

EB: Oh, DD and the Kingpin, for sure. This is their story, and we're seeing them take the battle to the Hand, in some pretty messed up ways.

NRAMA: Will you be one of those creators who, after leaving a book, won't be able to look back and read it anymore, or will you be picking up Andy's run?

EB: Of course I'll keep reading. Unless he screws it up....... Just kidding.

Still, Andy's got a big challenge ahead of him, and he's the first Brit to write DD, so I hope he's sufficiently nervous. Heh heh heh...

NRAMA: Back when spoke about Angel of Death, the short film you wrote for Sony’s Crackle.com that stars Zoe Bell, you said that you'd never give up comics, yet here you are moving on from what has become one of your best known series. Is there something coming in to fill this gap in your comic book work?

EB: Oh yeah... I have the Marvels Project with Steve Epting, and one other big Marvel project that is a secret right now, so my schedule is still more than full between big Marvel books and my Icon books. I'm not giving up comics, I'm just giving up Daredevil, because it felt like time. And when the special projects are over, I'm sure I'll be back to two monthlies again, and keep doing special projects. That's my plan. After a decade doing it, it's a lot of work, but it's a good problem to have.

Incognito #3, due in stores in April

NRAMA: While we've got you, let's talk about Incognito for a second...issue #3 is coming up. How's the experience for you and Sean so far?

EB: Amazing. Not only is the book selling like crazy, but we're both flexing slightly different muscles, and as you'll see in issue #3 (in the preview pages here, even) Sean is just knocking it out of the park. It's been a lot of fun so far, and we're only halfway in.

But on the sales front, we sold out of issues #1 and #2, and are almost sold out of the second printing of #1. Issue #3's orders are the highest FOC [Final Order Cut-Off] numbers we've had so far on the series, about 25 percent higher than the orders for issue #1 were, even. I've never seen anything like this with one of my original series before. It's crazy.

NRAMA: Has the success that Incognito has been met with influenced you and Sean at all in terms of when you'll be getting back to Criminal and when you'll be continuing with more Incognito?

EB: Not really, other than Incognito is going six issues, but that's because I needed the room because the pacing was going slower than I expected it to. I'm hoping that Incognito's success will help us when we go back to Criminal... that we'll bring these new readers back to it with us. And then after the next Criminal story ends, we'll be doing a sequel to Incognito that I'm really excited about already. It's a weird story that just appeared to me while plotting out the first issue, and I've got this burning desire to get to it quickly.

But Criminal does really well, and our trade sales are incredibly steady on it, as are our European sales, and it's really the comic I've been wanting to do for a long time, so I'll always come back to it.

NRAMA: As we've seen in the first two issues, the protagonist of the story, Zack is...something of an addict. But like most, one hit is leading only to the next, even when it’s going out and beating people up. Can he stop, even now that he's being blackmailed by Farmer?

EB: I'm not sure he could stop using his powers now, even if he wanted to. For years he felt like he was trapped, and now he's got this freedom to use his powers again... even if it's stopping crimes instead of committing them, and it's the first time he's felt alive since his twin brother died.

NRAMA: Could Zack have ever have "escaped" and made it in a quieter, normal life, or is this just destiny for him, seeping out at the edges before overtaking him?

EB: I don't think he was capable, because of his background, of having a quiet life and being happy in it, that's for sure... but that's one of the big explorations of the series, too. To see why he is the way he is.

NRAMA: Alright - same as with Daredevil - we can't let you out without a tease...what's coming up in Incognito #3?

EB: Well, why don't you just read the preview and see for yourself?

Well, why don’t you? Check back with Newsarama tomorrow morning for an exclusive preview of Brubaker and Phillips’ Incognito #3


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