Daredevil’s been on a series of highs between the acclaim surrounding his comic series and the buzz surrounding his Netflix series, and in April he looks to be celebrating. That month Marvel will release Daredevil #15.1 – a standalone issue set in the early days of Matt Murdock’s career, coinciding with the release of the Netflix television series. The annual-style issue will feature a lead story by Arrow co-showrunner (and comics writer) Marc Guggenheim and illustrated by Peter Krause. Joining him in this issue is regular Daredevil artist Chris Samnee, who is stepping up to both write and draw a story titled, fittingly enough, “Chasing The Devil.” All of that, plus two one-page stories by Mark Waid acting as a bumper of sorts between the larger stories.
Although Guggenheim is best known for his TV and comics work, his ties to Daredevil actually owe more to his years as a working lawyer in Boston. Although he no longer practices law himself, he’s become an unofficial legal consultant of sorts during Waid and Samnee’s Daredevil run, answering questions about Murdock’s legal strategies, including navigating the path Matt took from being disbarred in New York and setting up shop in San Francisco. Guggenheim tells Newsarama that superheroes and law dramas are his two favorite genres, making Daredevil uniquely placed as one of the writer’s most intriguing characters.
“My story is set in the early days of Matt Murdock as Daredevil,” Guggenheim says. “Back when he was practicing in a law firm and before he went out on his own with Foggy Nelson, so he’s very new to the vigilante game. It’s a very simple concept in which Matt goes out on patrol as Daredevil one night and catches a murderer just after he had killed someone. The next day, his law firm assigns him a pro bono case, where lawyers for the good of society and to be charitable take on a case of an indigent defendant for free. His client, however, turns out to be the same guy that Daredevil captured the previous night.”
Guggenheim tells Newsarama that he wanted to find a story that relied equally on the costumed Daredevil aspect of the character as well as the courtroom drama. Setting in it in the primordial days of Daredevil’s career gave the writer an opportunity to elaborate on Murdock before he started his own law practice.
“What I found intriguing about that is his early days are not particularly that well-documented compared to other heroes,” says the writer. “I enjoyed the opportunity, in 20 pages, to imagine what his pre-Murdock and Nelson days were like.”
As revealed earlier, Guggenheim has helped behind the scenes in the current Waid/Samnee run of Daredevil – a relationship started years ago when he and Waid worked on the “Brand New Day” era of Amazing Spider-Man.
“You mentioned the San Francisco thing, and honestly Mark gives me far too much credit,” Guggenheim says. “He had a very clear vision as to what he wanted to do with Matt moving out to California. All I did was give him the legal justification for the story he wanted to tell. “
When consulting writers about law practices, Guggenheim says his approach is always story-first.
“You tell me the story you want to do, and I’ve got a high confidence I can come up with grounding in real law to make it happen… unless it’s an alien invasion story,” says the writer. “There’s always a way to apply or interpret law to help a story trying to be told.”
Helping a story be told is also the impetus for Chris Samnee to step up to in his first gig as a writer for Marvel here in Daredevil #15.1. Although Samnee wrote his own stories in the early days of his comics career, the demand for his artwork led him to focus exclusively on illustrating. But now, thanks to the collaborative nature he and Waid used as storytellers (no lie, that’s how they’re credited in the Daredevil ongoing series), Samnee earned editors’ trust to take Matt Murdock out for a solo spin.
“’Chasing the Devil’ s a flashback to one of Matt Murdock’s old adventures, tying sort of into the Silver Age Stan Lee and Gene Colan era,” says Samnee. “It’s Matt and Karen Page, his girlfriend at the time. And Daredevil going up against Diablo.”
Samnee points to Diablo’s origin in Fantastic Four which drew him to utilize the Spanish supervillain, and the fact that “Diablo” translates in English to mean “Devil” only made it more magnetic for the artist. That said, Samnee said doing this as a flashback tale allows him to avoid the “gazillion different powers” Diablo has gained over the years and instead focus on his earliest and most memorable skill: alchemy.
“In my story, he’s learning more about using alchemy, in this case, using it to make something. That’s the Macguffin of the story,” says Samnee.
Alchemy is a key part of both the stories of Daredevil #15.1 – from the literal application of it in Samnee’s story to the figuratively alchemy of mixing superheroes and courtroom drama in Guggenheim. Guggenheim says that’s what’s making the upcoming Netflix Daredevil show one of the thing she’s looking forward to most.
“I’m always excited to see Daredevil in any form, but television is a medium that Daredevil is tailor made to be transported to from comics,” sais Guggenheim. “I can’t wait. I’m humming with anticipation. I’ve actually been corresponding via email with one of the writers of Netflix’s Daredevil show, telling them how much I was looking forward to it.”
When asked who would win out in a fight between Daredevil and Guggenheim’s other main hero, Green Arrow, the writer/producer spoke from his head but felt with his heart.
“I think I’m contractually obligated to say Green Arrow,” says Guggenheim, “but my heart lies elsewhere.”