Marvel Comics’ Daredevil AKA Matt Murdock is the champion of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in New York City. The area he defends may be smaller than some of the Marvel Universe’s other heroes, but that doesn’t mean the Man Without Fear’s adventures aren’t as grand or significant. Over the past several years the creative teams on “Daredevil” have done huge things with the title. Matt Murdock’s secret identity has been outed; he did jail time and escaped to Europe, only to return home where one of his old enemies drove his wife insane.
The current “Daredevil creative team of writer Ed Brubaker and artists Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano are building towards another status quo altering event for Daredevil in the current “Return of the King” arc. The arc comes to a conclusion this August with the milestone “Daredevil” #500, an issue that also marks the end of the current creative team’s run making way for “Thunderbolts” writer Andy Diggle to take over as the regular writer of the series. CBR News spoke with “Daredevil” Editor Warren Simons about the series and many of its upcoming big developments, several of which were announced by Marvel at yesterday’s Mondo Marvel panel at the Wizard World Philly Convention.
The title of the current arc, “Return of the King,” refers to Wilson Fisk, the former Kingpin of crime, who returned to New York City at the beginning of the arc after spending time in exile in Europe. Fisk’s return was motivated by vengeance against Daredevil’s newest adversary Lady Bullseye, who murdered the woman the former Kingpin had fallen in love with. When he returned to New York, Fisk sought out Daredevil and proposed an alliance to take down Lady Bullseye who’s employed and protected by the ninja clan known as the Hand.
Daredevil and Fisk’s alliance and the maneuvers they made against Lady Bullseye and the Hand have helped to illustrate the similarities and differences between the two former archenemies. “I think that they're both stubborn and a bit obsessive, and both can be very hard-hearted, so there are indeed similarities there,” Simons told CBR News. “But Matt's a guy who would lie down in front of a speeding train to save an innocent life, and Wilson's a crimelord and psychopath, so there are definitely fundamental differences between the two.
“I've had ‘Born Again’ on the nightstand and have been flipping through it over the past few weeks and I think that Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's work on that trade has had a profound impact on a generation of fans and creators,” Simons continued. “It's really one of Marvel's best works, and I think it left an indelible impression on how those two characters help define each other, and also how fans and creators view them.”
In “Daredevil” #118, part three of “Return of the King,” the Kingpin escalated his war against Lady Bullseye by recruiting a dangerous and unlikely ally, another one of Daredevil’s villains, The Owl. “The Owl is one of those classic, uber-goofy villains, like Doc Ock, who is incredibly charming even though he seemingly shouldn't be. I remember seeing the cover to ‘Daredevil’ #3 when I was a kid, looking at the Owl with that odd haircut and strange outfit, and wondering what the hell this guy was about,” Simons remarked. “It's really a testament to Stan Lee and Joe Orlando and Bill Everett that he's lasted for 40 years. We've seen a number of permutations of the character over the years, and with #118, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark give him a great return.”
Now that his return and penchant for explosive violence has been reestablished, the Owl will play a key role in the remaining chapters of “Return of the King.” “He’s helping move pieces around the chessboard,” Simons explained. “I've always liked him as a character because it's fun to see how petty and vindictive and angry he is all of the time, but after what Ed and Michael put him through in ‘Daredevil’ #500, you'll understand why.”
“Daredevil” #119 is in stores June 24th and when we asked Simons about the issue, rather than discuss what happens he preferred to show our readers what the issue is about through the following eight page preview.
“Daredevil” #500 follows next, arriving August 24. That gives readers an extra month to wait, but Simons and the book’s creators are taking special care to give readers a giant sized issue that is worth the wait for this momentous occasion. “I edited ‘Thor’ #600 a few months back, so we've had two of these gigantic monster anniversary issues over the past few months. That issue featured a main story by J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel with Marko Djurdjevic, as well as new stories by Stan Lee and David Aja and Chris Giarrusso, as well as some absolutely brilliant back up reprints by Stan and Jack,” Simons said. “So, hopefully a good anniversary issue will have a little bit of old, a little bit of new, but something everyone can enjoy.”
The majority of the “new” in “Daredevil” #500 comes from Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s final Daredevil story which spans 40 pages and allows Brubaker to leave Daredevil the same way he found him, in a tight spot. “Ed took the vise that Brian [Bendis, who’s run on Daredevil preceded Brubaker’s] left him in and put Andy in it,” Simons explained. “I know that it's a cliché to say, but you ain't never seen Matt like this before.”
The other new story in “Daredevil” #500 sees the return of acclaimed former Daredevil writer Ann Nocenti and David Aja, who’s penciled several recent “Daredevil” issues and is best known for his stint as an artist on another title Simons edits, “The Immortal Iron Fist.” “I always felt that Annie's run on ‘Daredvil’ was terrific and I wanted to get her involved with the big anniversary issue,” Simons said. “David and I were talking about the choreography of the story this morning; he's very meticulous, as you can tell from the extraordinary level of detail and the quality of his storytelling. It is a big, brutal, delicious fight between DD and Bullseye.”
The events of “Daredevil #500 lead into September’s “Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil,” also written by Diggle, which shows Daredevil’s place in Norman Osborn’s new world order. Then in October, Diggle and new “Daredevil” artist Roberto De La Torre begin their run on the series. “I thought that Andy had the right voice for the title, which is why I wanted him to take over the book. He has an outstanding eye for big moments and while ‘Daredevil’ is not a political book, Matt's always been a character that is aware of his social and political environment. Andy brings a lot of strengths to the table and his scripts have really been wonderful. Ed left him in a terrible spot, heh, and Andy just picked it up and ran with it,” Simons said. “Andy's putting together some terrific stories here and whether you've been following ‘Daredevil’ since issue # 1, or are a brand new reader, you're going to be in for a helluva ride.”