By Ben Morse
This summer, Matt Murdock's got a case he can't win on his own, so he's bringing in some expert counsel: Greg Rucka.
After four years away from the House of Ideas, acclaimed novelist and comic writer Rucka (WOLVERINE, 52) returns to Marvel and reunites with old pals and the regular DAREDEVIL creative team of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark for the four issue "Other People's Problems," beginning in May.
Marvel.com flagged Rucka down to discuss his take on the "Man Without Fear," his feelings on re-teaming with Brubaker and Lark, and what his future with Marvel could hold.
Marvel.com: So how did this arrangement with you co-writing an arc on DAREDEVIL with Ed Brubaker come about?
Ed called. [Laughs
] That's pretty much it.
The phone rang, I saw it was Ed, said, "Well I haven't heard from you in awhile," and he said, "Yeah, I know, I'm sorry—you want to co-write an arc of DAREDEVIL with me?" [Laughs
] I thought about it for maybe half a second, said, "And Michael is drawing it?" he said, "Yeah, it would be you, me and Michael getting the band back together," That is exactly what he said. So I laughed, and said, "Yeah, I think that would be a lot of fun." I got a really nice e-mail from Michael saying, "This is gonna be great!" and he's already drawing away. I've already seen the first seven or eight pages of the issue and, well, [damn], he's Michael Lark. [Laughs
] He's so good.
I asked what it was about and he said it was kind of a legal thriller. He and [editor] Warren [Simons] had been talking about doing something dealing with Matt as an attorney as much as Daredevil and had this idea for a death penalty case. It's a guy on death row and Luke Cage comes to Matt saying, "I don't think this guy did anything, he's innocent." Matt takes the case and tries to clear this guy. Again, I thought that could be fun.
From there, it's been pretty much the exact same as when we worked together [in the past,] but with the difference being—and
it's an important difference—that this is Ed's book. Ed knows where he's taking [DAREDEVIL], he's got plans for the next 24 issues or so. I'm very much junior partner here, and that's not a problem. Ed asked me to come in and help him out with an arc, but at the end of the day, it's his book and the ultimate story decisions have to be his.
Marvel.com: In your past Marvel work, you've written ELEKTRA, and you've written ULTIMATE DAREDEVIL & ELEKTRA, so Daredevil is a character you've always kind of danced around—what is your take on Matt Murdock?
[When I wrote those books] was back when [Brian] Bendis was writing DAREDEVIL and was pretty much marking that territory definitively. It's weird, I've always had sort of a "hands off" on Daredevil.
I think a lot of characters and a lot of super heroes are defined by what they do or what they can do, and Matt for all of his phenomenal power really isn't defined by that at all. He's defined by the fact that he's a walking, talking car wreck. He's an incredibly dysfunctional human being, and that has been consistent in the character for [many years]. I think in the end it's what makes him such a bad ass: there's so much internal grief and baggage that every time he punches someone, he's not only punching them, he's punching 20 years of continuity. [Laughs
] And that's not a bad thing.
[Daredevil] is very complex. He's not an easy character. I think [writers] who approach him as simple are making a mistake. There's a lot going on with the guy. And he has this pedigree of phenomenal writers working on him—literally some of the best writers the industry has ever seen have written this character. You can't approach him casually; you have to be aware of that.
Marvel.com: Is Daredevil a character you have personal affection or did he just happen to be the character your buddies were working on and they invited you to join in?
I'll be honest: the reason I said yes [to working on DAREDEVIL] was because I wanted to work with Ed and Michael again. The fact that it was DAREDEVIL was icing on the cake. It might have been a harder sell with another character, characters I wouldn't necessarily be as excited about but that I'd try to work on just to do it with [Ed and Michael]. It being DAREDEVIL on top of everything else made it a no-brainer.
Marvel.com: So this arc is going to be more of a courtroom drama as opposed to some of the action-oriented stuff we've seen in the book lately…
I think "legal thriller" is a better way to put it than "courtroom drama." Because "courtroom drama" is ultimately very boring in a comic book. If you want to do a real courtroom drama in a comic book, it's just 18 pages of talking heads, and after awhile, that's just not why you're picking up DAREDEVIL.
I think the appeal for Ed is doing a story that deals with the law. How Matt is at his core an attorney, and a very good one; wanting to play with that. And then putting him opposite a case where, not only is the guy [he's defending] on death row, but he's there for something fairly heinous that he has confessed to
. Matt Murdock sits opposite this guy saying he did it and he knows he's lying. Then the question becomes that you've got a bad guy—and this guy is
a bad guy, he's got a history of doing villainous things—who is going to be put to death for a heinous crime he didn't commit, well, what's the obligation there? Are you obligated to the law? Are you obligated to your sense of justice? There's some good conflict in that. This guy has done evil things, just not this
evil thing—do we let him go to the chair or not?
Marvel.com: How does Luke Cage fit into this story and what's your view on him as a character and his relationship with Matt?
Luke is very cool. [Laughs
] He's become much cooler in the last several years. His primary role in this arc at the moment is that of the instigator. Matt starts the arc in a very dark place, and part of what Luke is trying to do—aside from not buying that this guy on death row did it and needing to put his finger on why—is throw Matt a lifeline, because he's drowning. Luke's thinking is that if he gives Matt a case he can sink his teeth into, maybe that will hold his focus for a bit, maybe he'll pull himself out of his misery. That's the theory at least…
Marvel.com: Getting back to the working relationship with Ed and Michael, it's been a few years since you guys collaborated on Gotham Central over at DC—what has changed and what has remained the same?
Honestly, the difference is—and this is not a bad thing—that [Ed and I] don't approach the work as equals. On Central, we did; on Central, it was 50-50 down the line. On this, he's got to have veto power. In terms of work habits and
comfort [with one another] though, it's still the same; it's as if no time has passed. We broke the story just as quickly as we had every time in the past. We bounced it back and forth exactly the same way. Even the work style was pretty much the same: I'd come up with a page breakdown, give it to him, he'd shoot it back to me and that's what we'd work off of.
One of the things that always marked when Ed and I worked on a story for Central together was that the story always broke very quickly because we'd spend all this time on the phone breaking it down and then 12 hours later it was like, "Well here are my 11 pages, where are your 11 pages?" That's pretty much exactly what's happened here.
Marvel.com: As an outside observer, what have you thought of Ed's run on DAREDEVIL so far?
I've really liked it. I've really enjoyed what they've been doing. Frankly, especially with Michael, how can I not. I don't think anybody draws that [world] the way Michael Lark does. I think between him and [collaborator] Stefano [Gaudiano] the work has been just outstanding.
Marvel.com: What has it been like so far being back at Marvel after four years away?
The only person I've really worked with [directly] has been Warren, and I actually had worked with Warren before I went exclusive to DC. He actually edited one of my favorite stories I did during [my] WOLVERINE run which had originally been a different project entirely, but we liked it so much that we turned around and handed it to [Executive Editor] Axel [Alonso] and worked it into [the ongoing book]. I like Warren; I've liked working with him in the past and it's been great. It's been very welcoming and very accommodating. I mean, nobody has sent me a fruit basket, but I didn't think anybody would. [Laughs
Marvel.com: Provided you might be doing some more Marvel work beyond DAREDEVIL—fingers crossed over here—have you given any thought to status quo changes like Superhuman Registration and how you would approach it?
Oh yeah. I have lots of thoughts. [Laughs
] I think I'm going to sit on those, because I don't
know what's going to happen next, and if there is more work on the horizon, that will be where those ideas will see the light of day. I think it's only fair to keep some of our magic tricks hidden.
Marvel.com: Assuming there is more Marvel work in your future, are there any characters or properties in particular you'd like to get your hands on—or get your hands back on?
There are like three or four things we've discussed at different points. I will happily write Elektra again…once there's a determination of exactly where Elektra is at the moment. [Laughs
] I've always liked Black Widow. Then Axel and I have discussed doing something with S.H.I.E.L.D., a special ops sort of S.H.I.E.L.D. book, but given that [Nick Fury] is so far underground nobody can even see his periscope, I don't know the likelihood of that. [Laughs
] So I'll be waiting to see what happens with him.
Ironically, the only other character I really have a jones to write, Ed is writing. That would be the guy with the shield.
Greg Rucka joins Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark on DAREDEVIL this May with issue #107, but before that you can read some of Greg's past Marvel work on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.