By Ben Morse
In 2011, terror overtakes the Marvel Universe as Fear Itself envelops its heroes and villains.
To delve deeper into what lies at the root of this climactic event, each week in Fear Files we will speak with Marvel’s biggest creators about exactly what frightens the premiere heroes and villains whose lives they guide.
For years, Matt Murdock has called himself “The Man Without Fear.” His nickname has been tested and pushed to the brink through a seemingly endless onslaught of physical pain, professional setbacks and the loss of loved ones. In the new DAREDEVIL series, Matt seems to be doing his best to put the bad stuff behind him—but how much does his past haunt him? We spoke with series writer Mark Waid to get some idea…
Marvel.com: Daredevil is called “The Man Without Fear,” but is that a true statement?
Mark Waid: It's a totally true statement for Daredevil—for Matt Murdock, not so much. Matt's afraid of letting his friends down, he's afraid of failing others, and most of all he's afraid that his self-destructive streak is so ingrained and incurable that he's doomed to a life where he ends up either destroying the good women he cares about or gravitating only towards those whose own flaws he can inadvertently magnify into critical damages. Growing up in a household with only a father and no mother—and a father who devoted so much energy to his son and his career that he never made time to date, apparently—Matt never got to see firsthand what an ideal healthy, loving relationship between a man and a woman is supposed to be like; and the problem with being self-taught is that it's a slow process. And Matt's still learning. But deep down, he's terrified he's un-teachable when it comes to functional relationships.
Marvel.com: How does Matt treat fear? What is his relationship with it?
Mark Waid: He doesn't treat it well, that's for sure—but everything he's tried up to this point in his life clearly hasn't worked, so he's trying a new therapy: ignoring it. And we all know how well it works to ignore things until they go away...
Marvel.com: Despite—or perhaps because of—the fact that Matt has so much fear in his life, he also seems to take to using it as a weapon against his enemies. What are your thoughts on this?
Mark Waid: I think that's accurate. I think he takes a perverse "balancing the scales" joy out of it—not surprising for a lawyer. And you don't know the half of it yet. With [DAREDEVIL #6], Matt Murdock finds a new way to strike fear into the hearts of Marvel's criminals in a way that may well make him the most dangerous man in the Marvel Universe.
Marvel.com: How does Matt react when those around him are afraid?
Mark Waid: If he's not careful, a little condescending. He's been through so much that he believes probably more strongly than any other being in the Marvel Universe in that old adage, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger." If you're his friend and you're afraid, he'll protect you, but if you're hurting others out of irrational fear, that strikes a colossal note in Matt and pisses him off.
Marvel.com: Does Matt fear losing control of his life as he has in the past?
Mark Waid: Probably more than anything; he thinks his friends don't know what thin ice he's skating. They know.
Marvel.com: Deep down, does he fear more for his own safety or that of his friends and loved ones?
Mark Waid: Obviously, for his friends and loved ones—otherwise, he's not much of a hero. But he's also self-aware to know that if he doesn't take care of himself first, he won't be in any position to help others.
Marvel.com: How much does he fear his friends and loved ones being in danger from or because of him?
Mark Waid: As we'll see in the second half of the year, not nearly enough.
Marvel.com: What is Daredevil’s worst nightmare?
Mark Waid: Failing his father.
Can Matt Murdock forge a better future by discarding his past? Find out monthly in DAREDEVIL, first issue on sale now!
For more information on Fear Itself, visit the official event page.