January, Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev settle back
in to Daredevil, returning to the book with
issue #56, and finding it a much different place than
it was in their last issue (#50), or for that matter,
years previous. Newsarama spoke with Bendis about
the current status quo.
There's no denying that 2003 saw a tumultuous run
for both the creative team and the character. In the
issues leading up to their arc entitled "Hardcore"
(#46 - #50), Bendis and Maleev destroyed the power
structure of the Kingpin in the New York underworld;
unmasked Daredevil, revealing his identity of Matt
Murdock to the entire world; pitted Murdock against
the tabloid which ran the story; and brought back
the Kingpin, who had been nearly killed by his lieutenants
in a Caesar-esque uprising.
And then things really went to hell.
While Bendis was kind enough to give Matt a new girlfriend
(Milla Donovan, a blind activist working for the Hell's
Kitchen housing authority), "Hardcore" saw the Kingpin
trying to reclaim his throne as the leader of New
York's organized crime, intent on taking out Daredevil
- the only true roadblock to his ascension, once and
for all. To manage this, Kingpin sent Typhoid Mary
after Matt (only to be defeated), and then Bullseye.
One of the more brutal battles between a costumed
hero and a villain in recent memory, Daredevil's battle
with Bullseye was the final straw, sending him on
the hunt for Kingpin. It was no longer a "tit-for-tat"
game for Matt - he took down the Kingpin - hard, proclaiming
himself as the new Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. And
A five issue arc written and illustrated by David
Mack, starring Echo, a character from earlier in the
But now…the two creators who shook up Matt
Murdock's world like it hasn't been shook for years
And it turns out they were just getting started.
You've said on numerous occasions when asked about
Matt's unmaksing, that you came up with a radical
idea for Daredevil, and Joe Quesada said you
could do it, but had to stick around to play it all
out. Was the subsequent fall of the Kingpin part and
parcel to the entire unmasking arc from the very start?
Bendis: Actually no. this is a case of the story
writing itself. I was actually going with something
else, but all of a sudden, I felt Matt's frustration
and came up with this. Then all these story ideas
started going so I knew it had to do this way.
What then was the bigger story in your view - unmasking
or taking down the Kingpin for good?
So - as far as things stood/stand at the end of your
last issue before David's arc, explain the "Matt Murdock
is Daredevil" element in the eyes of the everyday
Marvel Universe New Yorker. It almost seems that the
world found out Daredevil's greatest secret, and it
cared about it for all of five minutes…
Well, like many famous people hiding a secret, Matt
is so litigious about it that most media just leave
it alone. Its becoming urban legend, Matt is fighting
it with sheer force of will. plus, he is doing so
much good as Matt and Daredevil that most are just
happy to benefit from it and don't really care. But
it is a complicated struggle that never goes away.
So give a real world analogy - does Matt (prior to
the new arc starting) have a certain notoriety, such
as a suspect in a crime who was never found guilty,
so that there's this "is he or isn't he?" air about
Oh yeah, it's definitely the, "is he or isn't he?"
It's gossip and fun for everyone but Matt and foggy.
Going back to your last arc, "Hardcore," which had
the fight with Bullseye at the end of #49 - this was
the one that originally, you were going to wait for
Kevin Smith to be done with him in Target,
right? If Target had shipped on time, would
this arc have come sooner in your run?
Yeah - it would have found its way at the end of the
first hardback. It just had to happen. This guy killed
two of his girlfriends, as the writer of the
book, it just hung there.
But it all worked out great in the end, in #49 it
became part of this steam roller of villains leading
up to the finale. It worked out great.
But in that fight, Matt pretty much deconstructed
Bullseye as a human being in that fight in a manner
that showed just what a weak, pitiful, empty man he
was. In your view - for as long as you remain on DD,
is there any point to bring him back, or have you
closed the door on him as far as you see him? After
that knuckle-fed psychoanalysis, it's hard to see
him ever coming back as a Colin Farrell-level, cocky
I am done with a lot of the Miller Daredevil stuff,
only because I said what I wanted to say with them.
I expressed my love for them, but this new story is
about new characters and ideas. But we will get some
good classic fun from some older characters. Black
Widow is coming back in a big way.
So the same goes for the Kingpin, then - the men in
issue #50 as well as Matt totally deconstructed him
showing him to be arrogant and, well, stupid. Is there,
in your eyes, any bringing him back from that, or
is he "done" in the same way Bullseye is as far as
I think we'll do the next Kingpin story in The
Pulse. There is a story there. It's a pretty
good one, too. I'm still working on it though.
Moving ahead, then, and looking at just what leads
to the new arc, take us inside Matt's head - what
was it that snapped in such a big way this time to
make him go after the Kingpin and not stop? He's had
his girlfriends attacked and killed before; he's had
the Kingpin throw psychos at him before. What was
it about this point in his life that made all of this
such a potent mix that he had to take him down for
It's all of this. Plus the point of the new arc is
just about this. All these things plus something that
people may not see coming.
Well, while we're in Matt's head - he pounded the
crap out of the Kingpin with his mask on, yet when
he went to show off, throw him down and jungle-speaking,
piss on him in front of the thugs, his mask was off…this
was a power move, something to show that he is, literally
the man without fear - a la, "this is who I
am, bring it on if you think you can, I'm not hiding?"
Oh sure it was a total mind f___. It was Matt saying
plainly, "I am the man without fear." It was the exact
opposite of issue #35 where he scrambled for his mask
to hide behind.
That said though, was Matt…thinking clearly
when he did this, or was declaring himself the new
Kingpin fueled by adrenalin and emotion? After all,
speaking realistically, there's a hell of a difference
- and safety - between being the hero charging against
the bad guys, or being the lone guy all the bad guys
are gunning for…
That is a very good question.
Going back to Marvel editorial was there any concern
expressed over going this way with Matt? After all,
he's a "hero" who's now in charge of something because
he beat up the other guy - a very "might makes right"
move…or is this all about showing how different Matt
is from everyone else? After all, Spider-Man would
never declare himself king of the 'burbs he and Aunt
May lived in...he's such a nice hero…
Well more than anything, this shows that Matt is not
Spidey, Matt is totally unique in comics and this
idea proved it. You could not do this with anybody
Marvel's trust of me is an honor I got here by pushing
things as far as I can, which is what they want from
me anyhow. Also, Daredevil is the book at marvel
that has always pushed mainstream boundaries - it's
almost our responsibility.
So - with your first issue back in January, how much
time has passed since Matt took down the Kingpin?
Well, as the Marvel Preview of Daredevil #56
- out now - illustrates, a year has gone by.
So we'll see how well his "I'm the new king" is going?
I don't want to spoil but you get it all in the first
Are we talking an equivalent network of operatives,
spies, informants, etc. with Matt as the Kingpin had?
Oh no. nothing like that. This is just Matt using
his sheer force of will.
In "Hardcore" Matt was getting fairly chummy with
FBI Agent Driver. Can an FBI agent look the other
way while a guy sets himself up as the boss of a neighborhood?
I bet not.
As solicited, issue #56 has a slew of guest stars
- what do they come to Hell's Kitchen looking for?
For what the hell is wrong with Matt. They are very
disturbed by his new life. It's kind of a superhero
Of the heroes, you've got many of the "street-level"
guys who are long-time friends, but also Mr. Fantastic
and Dr. Strange in particular. Of those two specifically,
can they really understand Matt or what he's
done? After all, they both come from lives of relative
privilege, while the gritty street is what Matt has
known since childhood…
Don't worry - all will be revealed.
So the heroes coming in won't have a consensus of
opinion on what Matt has done?
Oh sure, plus, Matt gets a little too comfy leaving
him open to a takeover attempt. Which allows the West
coast Yakuza come after him in force.
Of all the heroes coming in, is Peter Parker still
going to be Matt's sympathetic ear? Why do theses
two black sheep of the NYC hero community get along
They just do. But that's something that always rubbed
my wrong personally. That's why I have their Ultimate
counterparts so antagonistic. Peter has a great monologue
in the upcoming issue.
Speaking of Matt's other confidants and friends, what's
Milla's response to Matt's move? Being the wife/lover
of the "Kingpin" wasn't a very healthy occupation
for Wilson Fisk's wife Vanessa - kidnapped by sewer
lords and all that…
All good points…
Speaking of Mila - is there anything Alex can't draw?
Believable costumed heroes, all-out action, and now
very believable, beautiful women…
Alex does love the ladies…
Wrapping this up then, will the "becoming the Kingpin"
be the major theme for the next large chunk of time,
or by issue #60 are we going to see Peter and Matt
having coffee, with Matt saying, "Remember that time
I took over Hell's Kitchen? That was some f___ed up
sh__, man…" And then Peter gives him a nod, and "F-ed
up, man. That was f-ed up…" And they both go and fight
Ha! Whatever the result, Matt has made a big, big,
big mess of things and we both have a lot of cleaning
up to do.