Charles Soule and Ron Garney have been setting traps for Matt Murdock all year in DAREDEVIL without him noticing. And now they plan to spring those snares around DD. To make matters even more dire, “Running with the Devil” will be settling over the book, bringing Bullseye, Kingpin, Elektra back into the Man Without Fear’s life.
We spoke to Soule and editor Mark Paniccia about the start of the Daredevil Universe, where the book will push Matt Murdock in year two, and when fans can expect to find out how ol’ Hornhead’s secret identity got hidden away once again.
Marvel.com: To begin with, how did the idea of a DAREDEVIL sub-universe come together?
Mark Paniccia: When I came on as editor of the DAREDEVIL series I met with Charles to talk about his plans, see where he was going with all of this. To say it was impressive and ambitious wouldn’t do it justice.
He had this stuff really well thought out and meticulously planned with a ticking clock that comes to a huge moment for both Daredevil and his alter ego Matt Murdock. Charles saw a way to get other street level characters involved as the story builds up. And it got me thinking about what an interesting corner of the Marvel Universe Daredevil lives in and how we could expand on it.
I’d wanted to do a BULLSEYE book and there was interest in developing a new ELEKTRA series. The CIVIL WAR II: KINGPIN series was getting good buzz too. It seemed like the perfect time for these key players to star in their own line of books. Fortunately, the rest of the team here thought so too. Thus “Running with the Devil” was born: a line of books spotlighting some of the best known characters in the DD mythos.
Charles Soule: That’s really kind of Mark to say. I came into my run on DAREDEVIL with a plan to tell a long-form story spread over a few years, with milestones set for various points that would all combine into a big mega-story around the end of the second year.
I like writing this way—dropping little hints early on that turn into something bigger down the road—and I’ve done it on a number of my longer runs on titles so far. For DAREDEVIL, it was important to me to tell a story that felt like only I could tell; something that connected to my own experiences as an attorney, as well as my understanding of Daredevil as a character. The big story is about the way Daredevil just will not give up, even when the situations he finds himself in would break anyone else. “Running with the Devil” is the start of something even bigger, which will tie in characters from Daredevil’s world—Bullseye, Elektra, Kingpin, and many others—and come to one hell of a peak.
Marvel.com: As a writer, what excites you about being a part of this creative endeavor? How is it to be working in closer concert with not just your artist Ron Garney but other creators like Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg, Matt Owens, Alec Morgan, and more? How does it inform your process?
Charles Soule: The key with something like this is to lay the groundwork for a story that lets everyone else involved tell the stories they want to tell, with each element contributing to the bigger event. I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. Also, these creators are great, and they don’t necessarily see everything the way I do. It’ll be fun to see how they take the larger story points and run with them.
Marvel.com: Mark, as an editor, what creative advantages will “Running with the Devil” offer you?
Mark Paniccia: It’s always creatively exciting to world build. But the really neat thing about “Running with the Devil” is the opportunity it gives us to introduce characters that are going to play a big role in one of the most exciting Daredevil epics to date.
Marvel.com: How will we see the books begin to interact with one another?
Mark Paniccia: They will connect in a shared-universe way where all the writers are reading each other’s plots, outlines, and scripts and looking for ways, only if organic, to show connective tissue amongst the books. So as the first arcs are designed to be introductory; the stories that follow will tangentially connect to the larger events taking place in DAREDEVIL and eventually lock into that story in a very meaningful and integral way.
Marvel.com: Charles, how do you view the characters—Bullseye, Elektra, and Kingpin—as individuals? And how do you view them as parts of Daredevil’s life? What do they represent to him and how do they influence the shape of his life and thoughts?
Charles Soule: All different types of devils. Bullseye is chaos, death, pure evil. Elektra is temptation. Kingpin is opposition—the slow devil just constantly out there working to make sure we’re never happy, never get to achieve our dreams. They’re all circling around him all the time, never too far from his thoughts. Every plan Daredevil makes takes them into account in one way or another; them and all of his many friends and enemies. Matt leads a complex life.
Marvel.com: With that trio becoming more of a presence in his “universe” how might we see DD change?
Charles Soule: He becomes simultaneously harder and yet more open. Even more resolved about where he needs to go, to make his sacrifices worth it—but perhaps a bit more flexible about how he can get there, with new influences in his life that can help him. [Daredevil: Running with the Devil]
Marvel.com: Coming out of the Muse storyline, how is Matt? Without spoiling that arc, what kind of physical and mental condition is he in?
Charles Soule: Not great. As we’ll see, the end of the “Dark Art” storyline puts Daredevil through the wringer. He’s having a crisis of faith about his role as a hero and protector of his city. He’ll get through it one way or the other—but it’s about the way he does it that I think readers, especially longtime Daredevil fans, will find interesting.
In particular, I’d like to single out issue #16 as a must-read. [Artist] Goran Sudzuka and I are really trying to do something special here; the entire issue takes place in the span of time it takes for a rifle bullet to travel from the end of Bullseye’s rifle to its target: Daredevil. And as we know, Bullseye doesn’t miss.
Marvel.com: Plot-wise, what can readers expect in the first arc of the “Running with the Devil” era?
Charles Soule: One of the biggest questions readers have had since my run began is “How did Daredevil get his secret identity back?” During Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s incredible run, Matt Murdock gave up his secret and announced to the world that he was Daredevil. When mine started, he had it back, and was living in New York City working in the Manhattan D.A’s office. He’d become estranged from his best friend Foggy Nelson, and had apparently ended his relationship with Kirsten McDuffie.
The first arc of “Running with the Devil,” running through issues #17-20, will finally tell readers how he did that. More importantly, though, it will explain why he did it. Matt has had a plan all along, and by the end of issue #20, we’ll know what he’s been trying to accomplish this whole time. He sort of blew up his life; now we’ll see whether it was worth it.
Marvel.com: Having just passed the year mark in your run on DAREDEVIL, how has your view of Matt and his supporting cast evolved? How has that evolution changed your perspective on the title or altered your goals?
Charles Soule: I’ve been a musician for a long time, and so I tend to think of my creative output in those terms, sometimes. I think working on a deep, complicated character with a long history—especially one that has had so many incredible creators attached over the years—is a lot like playing an instrument. You get better at it with time, especially as you build your relationships with the artists.
At this point, I think the Daredevil team—me, Ron Garney, Matt Milla, Goran Sudzuka, and Clayton Cowles—are playing the DAREDEVIL “instrument” at a really high level. We all know what we’re trying to do, and while it’s never effortless, I do think we’re able to tell even more ambitious stories than we were at the start. That’s a good thing, by the way, because it all just builds from here.
Marvel.com: For fans, why is now the time to jump on DAREDEVIL and buy into “Running with the Devil”?
Mark Paniccia: Because these characters have been part of some of the greatest Daredevil stories ever written, they’re all pretty well known, and I think these are all great jumping on points for anyone, really.
If you want to recommend something to a fan of the Netflix shows, these are not only monumentally entertaining but very accessible. And anyone who loves these characters I can assure they are going to love these books because they all lean into what makes Kingpin, Elektra, and Bullseye great and fun to read about.
Marvel.com: Looking at year two, any other teases you might like to drop for readers?
Charles Soule: Sure. Matt will argue the biggest case of his career.
Kingpin. Elektra. Father Jordan and the Ordo Draconum. Blindspot and Lu Wei.
The fate of New York City…in every sense.
Deep, dark ambitious storytelling—I can’t wait to get this stuff out there!
Pick up DAREDEVIL #14 from Charles Soule and Ron Garney on December 14 for the next chapter of “Dark Art,” and get set for “Running with the Devil” coming in February 2017!