More than five years after it was originally announced to the public, Daredevil: End of Days is finally here. And it didn't just quietely show up in comic shops — the first installment of the eight-part story, released last month, was one of the most universally acclaimed single issues from Marvel this year — including a perfect 10 out of 10 from Newsarama. To mark each issue of the End of Days, Newsarama will be talking with members of the comic's creative team — consisting of co-writers Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack, illustrators Bill Sienkiewicz and Klaus Janson, and cover artist Alex Maleev — about each chapter. The first issue started boldly and bloodily with Daredevil's violent death, and we talked about it with Mack, who also discussed the advantages of the book's long journey, the co-writing process with Bendis and what Ben Urich represents as a main character. Courtesy of Mack and Marvel, we're also debuting several pieces of art from End of Days, presented throughout the article. Variant cover to
of Days #3.Newsarama: David, congrats on the warm reception Daredevil: End of Days #1 received. How much of a huge relief was it to not only to see the first issue actually come out after it's been in the works for so many years, but for it to be overwhelmingly acclaimed?
David Mack: So far the response to it has been phenomenal. We were all trying to do the kind of book that we would like to read. We're just happy that, so far, other people seem to enjoy reading it as well.
It's a throwback book, in a way. In terms of the current Daredevil, with Mark Waid doing such a great job and such a different angle, it's kind of twice as shocking as it normally would be. We didn't know if there would be a backlash to it — we were trying to do our personal love letter to the Daredevil mythos. So far, everybody on the creative team is just really happy with what a great response we've had so far.
Nrama: It must be gratifying — not just the response, but the fact that the creative team was granted the time the book needed before release.
Mack: Because there are so many people involved in it, too, just the logistics of everyone's schedule — I don't remember exactly when it started, but I think it might have been 2006 when we started working on it. Brian and I co-writing it, and also me and [Alex] Maleev doing covers and some spots inside, and Bill Sienkiewicz and Klaus Janson doing the majority of the art in the story — it's all these different creators who have each done a large chunk of their career on different Daredevil runs, but also busy with a variety of other things now. It was kind of a logistical feat to get it to work for everybody's schedule. And Brian's so busy with other books, as well.
Brian kind of has this joke — he was happy with just working on it, just to be able to say that we're doing a project with Bill Sienkiewicz and Klaus Janson. Even if it took years for it to come out, we still had the joy of working with them, and being in the process of it, and just being able to say, "We're doing a Daredevil project with them." It is nice that it finally got on the schedule, at a time where there's a substantial amount of the book already behind us, so we have a good momentum. We wanted to make sure that we could put it out monthly.
Nrama: How much did End of Days #1 change over the past few years? Was it still pretty much the same vision you and Brian originally had for it, or did changes arise along the way — either because of alterations due to Marvel Universe develops, or your own perspective shifting?
Mack: There were changes about all of that. It's basically the same vision, but definitely the book benefitted from having more time. Every time the art comes in, we look at it and re-script. It gives us an opportunity to improve some dialogue, or accommodate it to some fun new things that happened in the art that we couldn't have foreseen. You can go back to the script with a fresh perspective, to the point where you don't even remember having written what you wrote before . So you can look at it in a fresh, more objective way, and not be completely married to what you had already written.
That said, there was some continuity stuff that had changed in the last five years; there were some things that had to be redrawn.
Nrama: You have worked with Brian before, but as a co-writer. How did the division of labor break down between the two of you?
Mack: I hadn't co-written with anyone before, and when I'm writing, and I would imagine when Brian's writing, it's a very personal process. I agonize over every little detail. When I first imagined the idea of co-writing, I wasn't so sure how that would be divvied up, or how that would work, but it's actually more fun this way. We'll start just by having a conversation, and one person says something that makes the other person say something — it's almost like a third mind happens.
It would very much come from just throwing all kinds of things out there, and then pulling back what doesn't belong. Probably like how a writers' room works. One of us will go and do our take on a full script, and then give it to the other person, then the other person goes in and fine-tunes dialogue or changes things around, changes scenes, moves stuff. It's been really fun that way.
Nrama: In terms of issue #1 itself, a lot of major things happen — Daredevil's apparent, and very brutal, death. Writing that seems to be something that took a lot of time and consider to get "right." What went into putting the scene together? And how important was it to open the series with it?
Mack: It's a pretty intense first issue, right off the bat. [.] There's the Daredevil scene right at the beginning, but then there's another really intense scene with Daredevil later in the story. I don't know if it's almost softened in a way because Daredevil's back in the book for rest of the story and you find out what happened before that.
It's almost like starting the book in the third act of the story, rather than building up to something and having that be the cliffhanger to the first issue, or to happen later in the story. We thought, "What is the most powerful way to tell the story, and not necessarily in the exact order that it happened?" Fine-tuning, and thinking about that kind of thing, and opening it right up at one of the most intense points — and then having the Ben Urich point-of-view after that.
There's somewhat of a approach to the way the story unfolds — opening with a death scene, and someone is piecing together this person's life to find some kind of meaning. It gives an opportunity to put a spotlight on so many different characters; not just the central character, but all of these fascinating characters. Ex-lovers, and girlfriends, and best friends, and former friends, and villains; reformed villains. It almost becomes kind of a for Ben Urich, where he has his quest to write this final story at the Daily Bugle that doesn’t want to write, and he begins by trying to talk to everybody that's possibly closest to Matt on his level, starting with what would be the heroes, or the girlfriends, or the wife. Most of them don't even want to talk to him. So as he keeps trying to find every scrap of information, he's then interviewing the less reputable characters — people that he probably doesn't even want to be meeting with. Villains, and people in jail. As the story takes a hold of him, he finds himself deeper and deeper — it's almost a journey into this hellish vortex of all this chaos that has surrounded Matt, and all the ripple effects of these strange characters.
Nrama: The use of Ben Urich also provides the opportunity for some definite commentary on the current state of media and journalism — how important is that part of the story for you?
Mack: What I love about that is, because we're setting it in the ambiguous near-future, you can even say it's a sci-fi story. Science fiction has always been good at projecting this near, ambiguous future, but it really gives you an opportunity to talk about the current time; to turn up the volume on what's happening now.
That's kind of how I was approaching things. When I was writing in an ambiguous near future, it gives you that opportunity. I think we're doing that a bit here, as well, with Ben. Not just print media, but a variety of media — also a variety of societal situations that you can emphasize a little bit more in the Marvel Universe, but people can still use as a way to look at how things are in their own world.
Nrama: Issue #1's two big death scenes — Daredevil and Kingpin — are both very violent and very visceral. They hit the reader hard, and in a medium where comic book deaths are often seen as a joke, these feel very important. Was that difficult to accomplish — giving real weight to those scenes?
of Days #4
cover.Mack: I honestly think a lot of the power of what you're referring to comes from the artwork. I think having Bill Sienkiewicz and Klaus Janson, who are so in love with this character, that their art brought something really visceral to it, and something really gritty and weighty. Just having them on the series, from Bill Sienkiewicz's and ; some of the stuff he does in this book recalls the approaches he did there.
So much of Janson's work when he was collaborating with Miller as an inker and later as a penciller/inker on a lot of those stories — they have such a connection to this character. That was one of the really fun parts of it for us as writers. What we wrote on the scripts was one thing, but seeing it come back the way they drew it, it was almost like we were seeing it for the first time. It was almost shocking to us — we can only imagine how shocking it was to the readers.
[The creative team] has thought so much about the character. If he can't get out of that cycle that he always seems to get pulled into, where does that eventually leave him? Where does that take him? If he's a man of no compromises, what does that lead to? I think everybody came in tightly wound with a lot of feelings about the character. Everybody working on it— even though this is an ambiguous near future and it's the Marvel Universe — firmly believes that they're writing this character in continuity, based on every other story they've worked on. There's some kind of natural power and weight that comes through because of that.
of Days #2 variant
cover.Nrama: It definitely helps to keep things feel like an outgrowth of past stories, and not an alternate-future tale. And End of Days #2 is out this week — what can you tell us about the issue, which has been said to delve into a lot of Daredevil's romantic past, with Ben Urich investigating that part of his life?
Mack: That's right. Both issue #2 and issue #3 include a lot of Matt's former lady interests. It's interesting to see who cooperates with Ben and who doesn't, and what strange situations Ben gets himself into trying to talk to these different people. Sometimes you'll get an insight from somebody who might give you a first-hand experience of what their last moments with Daredevil were, and other times Ben's just a horrible reminder to them of something they've tried to shut out of their lives.
Ben has a history with some of these people, too. He has a history with Elektra, for instance, from the Miller/Janson issues. A lot of that is revisited. There's every reason for Ben to be completely scared out of his mind to have any communications with these people, or try to find any of them. Typhoid Mary is a character that comes out. He was already trying to find Black Widow. Just seeing Bill Sienkiewicz do fully painted pages of Elektra again in the style of is amazing. It's almost the exact kinds of takes he did before with Elektra.
Visually, it's a feast for Brian and I. When it comes back with the lettering on these pages, it's an amazing experience for us to read it. We can only hope that the readers appreciate it in that way, too.
Nrama: And you'll be popping up in the interior art from time to time during the course of the series, right?
Mack: Yeah, that's right. Alex Maleev does all the main covers, and I'm doing a variant cover for each issue, and I think Bill Sienkiewicz is also doing a variant for the final issue.
Throughout it, you have Klaus and Bill working together for the look of the main timeline, but there will be some flashbacks to other timelines where it's like, the Janson era, where Janson will do the pencils and inks all himself so it has that look of the Miller/Janson stories.
Basically, any time there's a character that one of the artists is probably more associated with, that artist will do a lot of the artwork for that sequence. I do that, and Maleev does it, too.
Nrama: Before we go, David, any final reflections on Daredevil: End of Days #1?
Mack: Despite the hurricane last week, we sent issue #3 off to the printer, which was an amazing challenge, because both Klaus and Bill were completely without electricity, and we were just doing everything we could to get everything sent off to the printer last week. Rest assured that #3 will come out on time, as well.
I think there are some fun twists about these characters — where they were then versus where they are now. What are the interesting twists of what has become of them, and what they've done with their lives, and what choices they've made now?More from Newsarama:
- 10 Comic Book DEATHS That (Mostly) Still Matter
- New Writer Brings Daredevil, Revamped Lineup to X-MEN
- Best Shots Advance: DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS, BATMAN, More