By Jim Beard
Matt Murdock's story is a tragic one: a young, studious boy, tauntingly called "Daredevil" by school bullies, races out into the street to protect the life of an old blind man, only to be struck down by an oncoming vehicle himself. Matt's entire world disappears in a blur of red, his precious sight gone forever. The most important person in young Matt's life at that point? The man to whom Matt made a solemn promise that he'd fight for a good education and rise up out of the city's squalor of crime and degradation--"Battling" Jack Murdock, professional boxer, reluctant mob enforcer, and father.
In the June-shipping DAREDEVIL: BATTLIN' JACK MURDOCK, Marvel once again opens the files on that part of Matt Murdock's life. The series explores who and what shaped Daredevil, "The Man Without Fear," making him the hero he is today.
Surprisingly, BATTLIN' JACK originated from the mind of an artist, not a writer. Carmine Di Giandomenico, the Italian illustrator who has graced the pages of WHAT IF, MARVEL WESTERN and the acclaimed "Venus" arc of AMAZING FANTASY, was so captivated by the potential in the tale of Matt Murdock's father that he approached Marvel with the idea of giving "Battling" Jack his own much-deserved spotlight.
Di Giandomenico's rich visuals excited everyone they came in contact with, and Marvel knew they had to get the story out to Daredevil's multitude of fans. For the artist, it was a frightening proposition to work on a hero he admired so profusely. "This dream has come true thanks to [Editor-in-Chief] Joe Quesada," says Di Giandomenico. "He was the first one to believe in my idea. I was actually a little afraid to submit the concept of DAREDEVIL: BATTLING JACK MURDOCK to him, one that I've had in my mind for about seven years, because it concerned Daredevil's origins. I have always loved the character, mostly thanks to Frank Miller.
"Anyway, Joe got me in touch with Warren [Simons, the project's editor], who studied the art of my story and then involved Zeb Wells as a writer to help us with the script."
"Carmine had completed a fully-illustrated plot to pitch to Marvel on his concept," explains Wells, scripter of DAREDEVIL: BATTLING JACK MURDOCK. "And editor Warren Simons was looking for someone to do localization and provide input on the story. Once I saw Carmine's vision for the project, Warren didn't have to ask me twice, needless to say." Wells is well-known for tackling such books as NEW WARRIORS, DOC SAMSON, CIVIL WAR: YOUNG AVENGERS & RUNAWAYS, and the current HEROES FOR HIRE ongoing.
The story of Jack Murdock, though previously touched upon by others, is one that can never be explored enough in Di Giandomenico's opinion. "What has always intrigued me is the figure of 'Battling' Jack as a father, his way of supporting his son, his human reactions after Matt's accident, and the strength and weakness he shows until the end. It's the story of a man who must lay aside his pride for the love of his child."
Wells agrees wholeheartedly, pointing out the larger ramifications of Murdock's impact on Daredevil's future career. "Like every son, Matt Murdock learned about being a man from his father," posits Wells. "Sometimes from positive example (what to do), and sometimes negative (what not to do). I think we learn how to be brave from our fathers, and Jack, in his last moments, had an almost mythic bravery.
"We've seen Jack Murdock though Matt's eyes before, and I think Matt sees him as a sort of saint. With DAREDEVIL: BATTLING JACK MURDOCK, we want to look at him as a person…someone with flaws who somehow found a way to live his last moments with integrity."
The art on the project will be of a caliber that will keep fans talking long after they've finished reading. Di Giandomenico is prosaic when referring to his illustrative techniques, but thrilled to be crafting likenesses of characters who matter to him. He's also hopeful of the book's reception with Daredevil mavens. "It's not easy for me to describe my style. Surely it is Italian, but also influenced by some American artists such as John Romita, Jr. I hope the readers like it as it is, though!" he laughs. "The art is mainly a tribute to the Daredevil visuals of the '80s, yes, but the story itself is also firmly rooted in the classic '60s material.
"I really love the Frank Miller stories. It's no wonder you'll see some minor Miller characters in BATTLING JACK MURDOCK. However, in the end, the reader will be getting a different kind of story and I'm curious to know how it will be received!"
"For my part, I'm working with an undisputed master of his craft," says Wells of his current Daredevil teammate. "It doesn't get any better."
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