Big Shots

Tuesday Q&A: Mark Waid

The writer guiding Matt Murdock as he attempts to turn over a new leaf forecasts the future for the Man Without Fear

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By Chris Arrant

Mark Waid wants Daredevil to enjoy life for once.

To be more accurate, the writer wants to get Matt Murdock out from the shadows and show a more upbeat and adventurous Man Without Fear. In the all-new DAREDEVIL series, Waid and artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin have begun to chart a new direction for the Guardian Devil of Hell’s Kitchen that involves him re-thinking his vigilante career as well as his law practice.

With the release last week of DAREDEVIL #2, readers can begin to see how this creative trio views DD and his unique set of powers. Although Daredevil has been blind since his first appearance in the Marvel Universe, his upcoming adventures place fresh emphasis on the use of his remaining four senses to perceive the world around him. Waid and several Marvel staffers also recently recorded a one-of-a-kind audio book of the first issue to allow fans of the character who share his sightlessness to enjoy his adventures for themselves.

Marvel.com talked with Mark Waid via phone from his Los Angeles office about the story so far in DAREDEVIL and what he and his artistic collaborators have planned next.

DAREDEVIL #3 cover by Paolo Rivera

Marvel.com: DAREDEVIL #2 shows some big events from Daredevil going toe-to-toe with Captain America to finding his match with the sonic-based villain Klaw. What can people look forward to next month?

Mark Waid: Next month is a big one, as both DAREDEVIL #3 and #4 are shipping in September. #3 is the conclusion of the first arc and wraps up the situation with Klaw and #4 shows Daredevil dealing with some collateral damage from the fight with Klaw. It’s no surprise to anyone that Matt wins, but the fight isn’t without its consequences.

One of the things that comes out of that is that Matt has a real vision now—no pun intended—of how to proceed with his legal career now that he can’t practice trial law in public. In DAREDEVIL #4, Matt starts to meet his new clients and their unique situations. He’s still going to practice law, but in a very Daredevil sort of way.

Marvel.com:  What brought you to use the sound-based villain Klaw against Daredevil? It seems like a perfect adversarial relationship.

Mark Waid: That was totally artist Paolo Rivera’s idea, so hat’s off to him. It was a good call: the master of sound versus a blind guy that uses his enhanced sense of sound. After we had decided on it and had some covers drawn, I realized that they had crossed paths years before. It was a really bizarre story and their interaction lasted only a few pages within that story, which in itself was kind of out of character because when Daredevil first gets around Klaw he says “who’s that guy in the red costume?”

That ruined the entire story. Even the author realized it later on, because he used a pseudonym for that issue.

Marvel.com: What is Klaw up to here?

DAREDEVIL #3 sketch pencil art by Paolo Rivera

Mark Waid: Those who are following the Marvel Universe closely know that Klaw was last seen being cast out into space at the end of the [KLAWS OF THE PANTHER limited series]. In DAREDEVIL we show that he left some minions behind—these “echo creatures”—who are trying to build an antenna/receiver to gather the signal that is Klaw; to draw him back to Earth, and make him whole again. They needed a human host for Klaw to inhabit, and Daredevil showed up at just the wrong place at just the wrong time.

Marvel.com: As if being targeted as a host body for Klaw wasn’t enough, Daredevil also ended up in the sights of Captain America. Matt showed off some of his lawyer skills by talking his way out of the fight with Cap, but Steve Rogers’ isn’t one to forget what DD did during Shadowland. Where is this heading?

Marvel.com: There will still be some tension surrounding Daredevil with the Marvel Universe after the events of Shadowland, but that’s abated somewhat by the fact that he joined the Avengers. When we were initially planning the series, there was going to be a lot of tension between Daredevil and the Marvel Universe. Now that he’s in the Avengers, most of that tension is going to be worked out by Brian Michael Bendis in his book.

But that tension still shows up in DAREDEVIL. Matt hasn’t come across Black Panther yet, or some of the other characters that stood up to him in SHADOWLAND. They’ll be showing up in the near future and Daredevil will have to deal with them and attempt to make peace.

Marvel.com: While the first issue of DARDEVIL showed a lot of Matt Murdock, this last issue was an all-costumed comic for Daredevil. How does Matt balance both sides and both occupations?

DAREDEVIL #3 preview art by Paolo Rivera

Mark Waid: Well, as you’ll be seeing starting with DAREDEVIL #4, a vast majority of Daredevil’s adventures will spring from Matt’s law cases. When Matt as a lawyer has a problem, or a client with a unique problem, Daredevil will step in and lend his action/adventure/swashbuckler help to assist. There will be a balance there, with Matt doing the courtroom stuff and Daredevil investigating the case in his own unique manner.

Marvel.com: Speaking of unique, one of the things people have latched onto with your run is the accentuation of Daredevil’s radar abilities to assist him, and how the artists to depict that visually. How did you come to decide to bring this aspect to the forefront and take advantage of your two great collaborators’ abilities like this?

Mark Waid: First of all, thank you. At the beginning of this project, I told both Paolo and Marcos that they’re two of the most brilliant designers I’ve seen in comics and that DAREDEVIL needs a whole new visual language for how his powers are depicted. I was tired of the concentric circles [radiating] out of his head like Aquaman, so we played around with a lot of different ideas, effects and visual cues to find the right approach. Some of the ideas were turned down because it wouldn’t have worked in the long-run, either because of the production nightmare or the difficulty in getting a consistency with the other books to replicate the effect. We eventually settled on what readers have seen in the first two issues: a wireframe point-of-view that Paolo has perfected.
And I love the way in the first back-up story that Marcos used in-set panels to spotlight the things Matt notices that others wouldn’t; the way a girl’s hair waves in the breeze or the steam coming from under a manhole cover.

Marvel.com: It must take a lot of trust on your part to rely so much on an artist nailing these types of effects.

DAREDEVIL #3 sketch pencil art by Paolo Rivera

Mark Waid: You’re right; in the wrong hands it could be sloppy or clumsy. They’re both visual thinkers, and I’ve always thought comics were a very collaborative medium between the writer and artist. Once I turn in the script, it’s no longer “my” story but “our” story. Some artists are very content drawing what’s there in the script and just focusing on the illustration of the script, but guys like Paolo and Marcos are very engaging with the story. They dove into the scripts and thought about it from a storytelling aspect. They offered different interpretations of ideas in the script, saying “What if we did this?”

For instance, in DAREDEVIL #4 I had written a moment where Matt walks out onto the streets of New York and we depict what [he] hears as to the life going on around him. It’s like walking through the world’s largest emergency room for Matt, because he hears every cry for help in a two mile radius. In the script I had a bunch of word balloons with snippets of people crying out for help, but Marcos turned it into Matt running down an alley where everything in the alley—trash cans, dumpsters, what have you—is composed of these snippets like “help!,” “stop!,” or “police!” He basically took the onomatopoeias and turned it into physical constructs.

Marvel.com: What do you like specifically about working with Paolo and Marcos?

Mark Waid: Paolo brings a very strong design sense to all of his work. The pages are balanced beautifully, so there’s never any trouble figuring out what’s going on. He has a real strength in his character work, particularly his facial expressions. The way he depicts the smallest of gestures really conveys a lot. Paolo’s also my backstop to remind me that Matt is blind. For instance, on the first page of DAREDEVIL #1 I had envisioned the scene with Daredevil looking out at a wedding reception. Paolo said “let’s have him sitting in the corner of a building, listening to wedding reception from a place where the acoustics would be better.” It was excellent.

DAREDEVIL #3 preview art by Paolo Rivera

Marcos also thinks about that stuff very strongly. Marcos’ gift is that he’s very good at storytelling in a way that’s visually interesting. With every panel you have no idea what’s coming up next. Marcos is constantly coming up with page designs and panel layouts that keep you off-balance, but not in a way that doesn’t make sense.
Another thing working with Marcos offers is that he’s intensely collaborative. He looks at the script not exactly as a blueprint but as an outline. Even though there’s dialogue and captions already there, a lot of times Marcos will replace entire panels, change scenes and add beats; it’s all with my full permission and blessing, as long as we’re telling the same story. If I need to go back and do some polishes and add some dialogue to cover panels he’s added, it’s worth it; it’s extra work, but I think that extra effort shows up on the page.

Marvel.com: You recently participated in a script read-through of DAREDEVIL #1 that Marvel.com posted last week. What was that like to do that for sight-impaired fans?

Mark Waid: That was [Senior Editor] Steve Wacker’s idea, and it was great. Not only that, but we pulled it off like you wouldn’t believe. It’s not a professional “book on tape” or anything; not even a dramatic re-enactment of the script. It’s simply me reading the panel descriptions while the Marvel [editors] voiced the cast. It’s a weird hybrid of a script read-through and a dramatic reading.

It’s a really clever idea on Steve’s part, and allows DAREDEVIL to be inclusive to everyone. Even visually impaired people can enjoy DAREDEVIL, which is especially ironic considering what Daredevil’s background is.

Marvel.com: Not to put on too much pressure on, but DAREDEVIL #1 has been one of the most well-received new books in a while. What do you think of the reaction people have had to your work here with Paolo and Marcos?

DAREDEVIL #4 cover by Marcos Martin

Mark Waid: I think if I were a smart man, I would have stopped with issue #1 and walked away. “We have to do issue #2? Are you crazy?”

Seriously, I’m flattered beyond belief. I always say that nobody knows what the next “breakout” book is going to be. Comic history is full of quirks; there have been times where DAREDEVIL was at the top and times where DAREDEVIL was at the bottom. There have been at least two times in comic history where DC’s Green Arrow has been the publisher’s best-selling title.

I believe if you put your heart and soul into it and present a fresh approach then you’ve got something. You’ve got to believe in what you’re doing, and work with a top-notch team from the artists to the colorists, editors and letterers like Joe Caramagna. I hope readers stay with us to see what we do next.

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