ED. NOTE: Today, to celebrate National Comic Book Day, we take a look at one of the most successful comic books going: Mark Waid’s seemingly fearless take on Daredevil.
THIRTY-ONE ISSUES into his run on Daredevil, Mark Waid is clearly on his way to adding his name to the list of writers who have told incredible tales featuring “the man without fear.”
With no end in sight, Waid's Daredevil continues to be a hit — going strong without the grim, darker tone that highlighted the critically acclaimed runs of Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. The pulse of Waid's Daredevil has been brighter, filled with humor, adventure and — dare we say — fun.
These aren't descriptions one would normally associate with Marvel's blind lawyer/vigilante Matt Murdock, and no one is more aware of that than Waid, who initially was convinced that his writing style was not right for Daredevil.
“ I'd always loved Daredevil — he was the first Marvel character whose comics I collected as a kid — but, honestly, I never wanted to write him because I never thought I'd be a good fit,” Waid tells Comic Riffs via e-mail. “I love what Frank Miller did and I love the approach that all subsequent writers took with the character, but that approach — making it a crime book — was not something I thought I'd be good at.”
“I'm better at swashbuckling adventure,” Waid continues. “When I was asked to take that tack, I was in. It was a risk, changing the tone of the series, but it seems to have worked, in no small part to the amazing artists I've been lucky to team with, from Paolo Rivera to Marcos Martin to Chris Samnee and everyone in between.”
Daredevil, like many of Waid's past comic-book successes, is powered by a first-person narrative of the title character — something that Waid says comes naturally to him. Waid’s Murdock is humorous and always ”on” as a lawyer.
“I've been living with these characters since I was a child, thinking about them constantly — but even though [first-person] comes easy, it's still the most important part of the scripting,” Waid says. “My job is to inhabit their lives and know them inside and out — and help you understand who they are, and what they really want, and what makes them unique.”
While he has enjoyed applying his writing style to Daredevil, there is one major aspect of the character that Waid inherited from previous writers: Daredevil's secret identity being known to the general public. Waid says he enjoys writing a title where everyone knows the secret identity, even though the hero insists that he isn't the hero.
“It is awesome. It's the most fun running gag we have,” Waid says. “And it doesn't really work for anyone but Daredevil, because no one else in the Marvel Universe is quite as brash or cocky or — forgive me — devil-may-care as Matt Murdock. All other things being equal, he'd rather it were still a secret, but Matt's philosophy is, ‘Play it as it lays.’ “
Could Waid ever unmask one of his heroes? It's not as simple as he makes it seem in the pages of Daredevil.
“I don't think I'd have the chutzpah to do it," Waid says. “Once you let that genie out of the bottle, it's hard to stuff it back in, and I'm a big believer in staying to a character's fundamental principles. But it sure worked with Daredevil.
“As a reader, I was convinced when it happened that it was a horrible, horrible misstep creatively ... and now I'm having a blast with it.”
While some vigilantes become something else entirely when they put on a mask and start running on rooftops, Waid says there's not much of a difference between the lawyer and the superhero when it comes to Daredevil.
“I don't see it as that distinct a divide,” Waid says. “To me, Matt's a lawyer in costume or out — I make a point of having Daredevil constantly pepper his language with legal phrases. Daredevil's real superpower as a costumed crimefighter is his ability to argue and litigate his way out of a situation.
“In the courtroom or out, Daredevil's a thinker and a clever, clever man.”