Mark Waid on a DAREDEVIL That 'Won't Drive You to Drink'

C2E2 2011: Waid Brightens Up DAREDEVIL

Daredevil has not had an easy time of it in the last 13 years. Not at all.

He's had his secret identity of Matt Murdock exposed, been sent to jail, witnessed the murder of his girlfriend Karen Page, married Milla Donovan only for her be driven insane, and became possessed by a demon who led him to execute his perennial enemy Bullseye. So he's been busy.

But things weren't always this bad for Daredevil. In the mid-1990s, he was a relatively angst-free adventurer in comics written by Karl Kesel and Joe Kelly. With the character having bottomed out during Shadowland and currently picking up the pieces in Daredevil Reborn, a slightly brighter Matt Murdock is ready to star in a new ongoing series, starting in July as part of Marvel's "Big Shots" initiative.

As announced Saturday evening during Marvel's Cup O' Joe panel at C2E2 in Chicago, Mark Waid, a veteran of superheroes from Captain America to the Flash, is writing the new series with artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, both Amazing Spider-Man alums (Martin is leaving that book to work on this) illustrating.

Newsarama caught up with Waid via email, to talk about the tone of the series (less bleak than what's been seen recently, but not, in Waid's words "happyshinyretrobright"), working with Rivera and Martin, what unexpected villains may be in the mix, the role Foggy Nelson will play in the new Daredevil series and the havoc that Matt's vigilante behavior has wreaked on their legal practice.

Newsarama: Mark, my first question is almost kind of a personal request. Since "Guardian Devil" back in 1998, Daredevil has been on an unmatched hot streak of some incredible stories — which almost all involved progressively more and more terrible things happening to the guy. Tone-wise, the book's been in an unrelentingly dark place for well over a decade now. With you taking over, and with Daredevil coming out of the Shadowland experience — which was probably about as dark as he can go — and going through what's happening in Daredevil Reborn right now, can readers maybe expect to see things get a little less bleak for the guy in this new series?

Mark Waid: You're right. Shadowland was about as dark as Matt could go, and while Daredevil will not be a happyshinyretrobright series by a long shot, we are gonna tweak the tone a bit and have Matt play a little more firmly in the Marvel Universe proper. A little more humor (people tend to forget that Matt's actually a clever wit), still plenty of danger and menace, still at heart a crime book...but we plan to deliver a Marvel comic that, you know, despite its excellence, won't drive you to drink. 


Nrama: On that note, seeing as how this is a new series with a new #1 and all that, how important are all of these past events going to be to the comic? Obviously they can't be ignored and help to shape whatever he might be going through currently, but at the same time, it's a new series and I imagine you don't want things to be bogged down by past events. What's the balance there?

Waid: From page one, Matt's coping with his last few years of personal tragedy in an interesting way; he's sort of pretending they haven't happened. Maybe that's his coping mechanism; maybe there's more to it. You'll see. But either way, Foggy and all of Matt's (and DD's) other friends and allies are not nearly that eager to hand-wave Matt's recent troubles away, and it creates immediate friction. None of them want to see Matt suffer, but at the same time, it sort of weirds them out that Matt's unilaterally opted to apparently turn the clock back on his life rather than confront his demons. He's looking for a little more light in the world around him, but the world isn't fully cooperating.

Nrama: It sounds like one of the goals of the series is to re-establish something of a status quo for Matt Murdock, which seems like a nearly impossible task at the point (both for him and for a writer). So can we expect to see things like him getting back to lawyer work? Or maybe trying to close the lid a little tighter on the whole secret identity thing?

Waid: Ha! No, in fact, as much as I wasn't looking forward to addressing the whole "public identity" matter now that he's been outed, but I've come to love it. I figure New York breaks down roughly into thirds: the third that believes Matt really is DD, the third that thinks it's crazy to believe a blind man could ever do what Daredevil does, and the third that really doesn't care one way or another because it's old news. Turns out that since Matt knows he can't put this particular genie back into the bottle, he's decided to embrace it. He gets a strange thrill out of letting others wonder if it's true because it keeps them off-balance and gives Matt an additional air of mystery.



 

However, it's wrecked his and Foggy's legal practice. Every case becomes about him, his reputation, and whether or not his presumed extracurricular crimefighting compromises his credibility as an attorney. He's doing his clients no favors by representing them, so how he gets around this and how he continues his legal career is something we've never seen Matt do before, and it opens us up to dozens of new storylines. 


Nrama: And along with the issue of status quo comes questions about supporting cast, specifically Foggy. I imagine one of Matt's priorities in returning to New York will be rebuilding that relationship — will the be addressed fairly quickly?

Waid: Yep. Matt without Foggy is like Butch without Sundance. Or, in terms of the Showtime series Californication, Hank Moody without Charlie Runkel. There are trust issues with Foggy, big ones, but Foggy is nothing if not loyal. Besides, if we get rid of him, where's he gonna go? Iron Man? I think not.


Nrama: It's a superhero comic, so we have to ask about villains, natch. Kingpin is playing a big part in Amazing Spider-Man right now, but I imagine that wouldn't stop him from showing up here (though Bullseye, being still dead, may be trickier). Can we expect to see familiar faces on that end? New ones? Combination of both?

Waid: A combination of both, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Fat Man to reappear soon. ("That's not fat, it's muscle!" "Whatever you say, Mr. Waid.") In fact, editor Steve Wacker and I both are eager to have some unusual-for-Daredevil Marvel characters play through. Hello, Klaw. Who's that right behind you? The Abomination, or some other monstrous behemoth? That's surprising. Huh. 


Nrama: The artists listed on this series are Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin — two names that I think will make every other comic book writer rather jealous when they hear. How much of a treat is it to get to work with those artists?

Waid: It's everything. Those two guys are outstanding. It's always an amazing gift to be able to work with storytellers who "get it" and who can not only draw anything but can draw it better and more dynamically than you'd ever envisioned. Oh, my God, these guys.


 

Nrama: You've written Captain America, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the X-Men — Daredevil seems like one of the few classic Marvel characters/concepts you haven't gotten much of a chance at yet. Was that part of the attraction for you? Are there any particular creative teams or storylines in the character's past that you're looking at for inspiration?

Waid: Nothing particular; since DD's been my favorite Marvel hero all my life, right alongside Captain America — seriously, those two put everyone else in the Marvel Universe in a distant second place — all his adventures are pretty well ingrained when I think about Daredevil's past. It's intimidating — Daredevil has been one of the most consistently well-written series in comics history — so there's nothing to "fix," nothing to "undo," no "back-to-basics" approach that's obvious. All I can do is write the Matt Murdock that I've always admired — the guy who goes into action where other heroes brood.

Nrama: And though you've been doing miniseries like Captain America: Man Out of Time and was part of the rotating team of Amazing Spider-Man writers, this is your first solo Marvel ongoing series in years — since Fantastic Four, maybe? Is this the kind of project you had in mind when you recently returned to the full-time freelance lifestyle after stepping down as BOOM! Studios chief creative officer?

Waid: This honestly came as a total surprise to me. I was the last guy I imagined anyone would ever associate with Daredevil, but once I gave the character some thought, much like with the Fantastic Four, I found my hooks and, I think, some angles on the series that have never been explored.

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