By Jim Beard
This July, writer Mark Waid helms a brand-new ongoing DAREDEVIL series along with the rotating artist team of Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. The title promises to not only return Matt Murdock to his roots, but kick off one of the most exciting new eras ever for the original Man Without Fear.
How does DD plan on re-establishing himself following the events of Shadowland and his fall from grace? According to his new writer, redemption will be tougher than the familiar hero of Hell’s Kitchen may imagine.
“At the beginning of this series, Matt's dead-set on restoring his life as a litigator and as a super hero,” says Waid. “Unfortunately, the way he's doing it seems, to outward appearances and to the frustration of his friends and allies, to be to act as if everything's normal if he just says it is, that all's forgiven and that he can turn back the clock to a simpler time just through willpower. And, boy, is he mistaken.
“Matt's a man who desperately needs the order of law to give him the illusion that complex things that seem out of control—including, say, his life—can make sense. Matt's a man who wants justice for others because there's still a small but flickering flame in him that, while he's made his peace with it, knows how unjust it was that a young boy lost his sight just because he tried to help an old man across the street one day. Matt's a man who wants to believe that there's a purpose to everything in the universe, including the freak accident that changed him as a child; because if there's not a purpose and unity to it all, if everything really is random and unconnected, then that way lies madness and bitterness.”
The new direction came from a desire shared by both the writer and editor Steve Wacker to “to move the levers just a little bit” and look into what makes the character great.
“For the longest time, DAREDEVIL's been a terrific crime book with very little super heroing and very little lawyering, and while that's been great, I asked if I could turn up the volume on the super-hero knob just a bit if I could do it without losing the grit and street-level feel the book has had since Frank Miller redefined Matt Murdock's world all those years ago,” Waid reflects. “And Marvel encouraged me to run with that instinct. Don't go ‘light,’ don't go ‘cheery’ or at all ‘retro,’ but likewise don't make the readers feel like the book ought to come bundled with a prescription for Wellbutrin. A little more High Adventure never hurt anyone.
“So that said: crime, yes; noir, less; super villains, definitely.”
With a high-profile list of creators before him directing Daredevil’s trials and tribulations, Waid looks forward to putting his own unique stamp on Matt Murdock while delivering the kind of stories that DD’s fans relish.
“I love playing with how Matt has come to accept and deal with the fact that his dual identity is fairly common knowledge, and how he's now turned that to his advantage,” he notes. “As Wacker and I see it, New York breaks down roughly into thirds: the third that believes Matt is DD, the third that thinks a blind man could never do what Daredevil does and thus this must be some weird media hoax, and the third that really doesn't care one way or another because it's old news and, hey, what's Charlie Sheen up to today? When grilled, Matt'll never admit to being Daredevil, but he gets a weird kick out of letting others wonder because of how it keeps them off-balance and gives [him] an air of mystery.
“The other approach that's novel is how Matt's transformed his legal practice. He figures that, by now, enough water's gone under the bridge where he can once more enter the courtroom as a practicing lawyer—but, again, he's fooling himself. Every case becomes about him, his reputation, and whether or not his presumed extracurricular crimefighting compromises his credibility as an attorney. Under the spotlight, he can never again be an effective trial lawyer, so how he gets around this is something we've never seen Matt do before, and I'm proud of the direction.”
And the past’s not going away according to Waid. Epic storylines of yesterdays recent and far will work together to drive this bold, new movement forward.
“It's all considered, and it's all part of the tapestry,” he reports. “The trick to writing Matt Murdock is to treat him as a man who's totally sane and actually pretty witty and clever and optimistic and energized, but to keep reminding the reader that all it would take to drive Matt totally off the cliffs of sanity forever after all he's been through is Just One More Really Bad Day.
“Daredevil’s expectations are that if he hand-waves the recent past away, it'll be forgotten. He will be very, very disabused of this simplistic notion very quickly, in issue two, by an old friend who may no longer be so friendly.”
Aiding and abetting the writer on the new DAREDEVIL stands two artists whose Marvel work dovetails neatly with the book’s atmosphere and action.
“Both Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin will blow the roof off the joint,” Waid enthuses. “Oh, dear God, these guys are phenomenal and it's like they were born to draw this series. Developing a whole new visual language for the character, designing a whole new look to ‘radar sense’—wait until you see this!”
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