Interview with Chip Zdarsky (July 2022)

DEVIL'S REIGN has ended and DAREDEVIL Volume 7 starts July 13, 2022. Writer Chip Zdarsky has returned for another interview to discuss what's ahead for Matt and Elektra in the relaunched title.

SPOILERS if you have not read DEVIL'S REIGN

Kuljit Mithra: Last time we spoke, it was at the end of volume 6 and Devil's Reign was just starting. The event recently concluded in May, with several plot points that will be picked up in volume 7 and also other titles. Before we get into the relaunch, I wanted to ask if you've settled back into a "normal" writing routine after coordinating Devil's Reign? Or have you even had time to think about that, with the new volume and all the other titles you currently write?

Chip Zdarsky: Oh god, a “normal” writing routine? Uh, not really! Devil’s Reign involved a lot of planning and re-writes—almost a years’ worth—before I even started scripting. The scripting after that was generally easy since the beats were all right there. But then there was Batman.

Originally I wasn’t going to start scripting Batman until after I’d finished writing Devil’s Reign. Jorge [Jimenez] had another project to draw which bought me that time. But then the project got pushed and suddenly I needed to be all about Batman while writing Devil’s Reign. That was hard, especially since I was deep into drawing Public Domain.

Luckily all that crunch time has pushed us really far ahead on Batman! So the new volume of Daredevil had some breathing room to properly plan out, thank god. It’s been a good balance the past couple of months, alternating between those as the core monthly titles and then tackling Newburn, Stillwater and Allnighter in the in-between moments.

It’s insane that that feels normal to me, but there you go. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel that promises it’s not my death.

Mithra: In typical Matt Murdock fashion, he's leaving behind a big mess in his personal life to go take care of another mess with The Hand because something is afoot (sorry). Luke Cage says that "escaping into Daredevil" isn't the way Matt should deal with his brother's death. Matt says his mind is clearer now after prison and after Fisk, and that path allows him to help the most people. So what has changed with Matt? Why is this fight with The Hand so important?

Zdarsky: It’s because he’s killing two birds with one stone here. He’s helping Elektra as a way of paying her back from stepping into his role, while taking down The Hand and their (yet to be revealed) plan once and for all. But he’s got a secret reason as well. Something that’s been growing since our first issue one. Shhh!

Mithra: At the end of Devil's Reign: Omega, Kirsten is mourning "Matt", but we get a hint that Mike could return someday. I know you can't spoil anything related to Mike, but I was curious about Kirsten. I really want to know how she's going to deal with this, and if she ever finds out the truth. With the story apparently going out of NYC to take down The Hand, will we see any of DD's supporting cast in the relaunch? I was also wondering about Butch, or will he be saved for the wider Marvel stories now as the crime boss.

Zdarsky: Yeah, I really wanted to leave the Mike door open. It made sense from so many angles to have him die in Devil’s Reign, but he’s also just such a fun character that I needed myself—and the readers—to see that his story may not be over. Maybe that undercuts his death, but we’re in the Marvel Universe where death is a rotating door, so I’m okay with that. I love that guy! I miss that guy! What’s wrong with me?

And yes, DD’s supporting cast aren’t going anywhere. We have plans.

Mithra: Wilson Fisk was a big part of your previous volume, you might even say he was equally a part of the title as Matt. With him supposedly hiding out in Latveria for a while, is this new volume going to be a split between Daredevil (Matt) and Daredevil (Elektra), with a focus on the two teaming up? Or a focus on their motivations separately? Or do you have some other villains you want to put into the spotlight?

Zdarsky: Our focus is back on Matt, but really it’s him and Elektra running the book now. They’re teamed up with a common goal and that really makes them a force to be reckoned with. And yeah, I will miss Mr. Fisk, but it felt like the end of his story for a little while in Devil’s Reign. We’ve got new villains (and old) coming up. One key new villain has been hanging around for a little bit now and will make a big splash in our first few issues.

Mithra: What is it about Elektra you want to really showcase in this volume?

Zdarsky: She’s turned a corner with her time as Daredevil and has expanded her empathy and outlook I think. So going forward it’s going to be about truly finding her purpose. Does her relationship to The Hand and Matt define her? It can’t, really. So who does Elektra want to be after all is said and done?

Mithra: There was a Free Comic Book Day story a few years back with Elektra and Stick, but I don't believe Matt knows that his old mentor is alive. Is Matt going to learn Stick is still around?

Zdarsky: Ha! Yeah, for sure. See? Classic revolving door.

Mithra: With Rafael De Latorre coming onboard for art, will there be a split, like Marco [Checchetto] drawing Matt's story and Rafael drawing Elektra's story?

Zdarsky: It won’t be as clean a split as that. We’ve mapped out all the issues and are trying to play to Marco and Rafael’s strengths. I have to say I feel incredibly blessed to have such great artists on this volume! Rafael was so damned good on Woman Without Fear that I just knew we needed to lock him down for Daredevil. And Marco is the best in the business and I’m eternally grateful he hasn’t ditched me for Spider-Man! This book would have died on the vine without him here since issue one.

Mithra: A number of titles appear to be headed for a crossover with the Red Fist arc, including Punisher and Savage Avengers. Was Frank Castle's story a nice addition you could use, or was this always in the plans?

Zdarsky: A lot of it has been pretty organic. I’ve had the general idea for The Red Fist kicking around since I started, but when Jason [Aaron] pitched his Punisher story I think we both knew that there was a great opportunity for both of us to integrate a lot of what we were working on. And then the current Savage Avengers came along so it just made sense for all of us to play together.

Mithra: Any hints of what is planned for issue #2 to celebrate LGY #650? (As long as it's not 650 variant covers)

Zdarsky: Ha! I don’t want to interfere with any Marvel press releases! It’s a big story that spans Daredevil’s entire career, filled with revelations, fights and explosions. And … love??

It’s a wild package. So many great artists and also me.

Mithra: Thanks again for the interview. I don't know how much you want to reveal, but in a past newsletter you showed some outlines to at least an issue #50 for DD. Anything changed with Devil's Reign and this relaunch? Is this story still on that same path you set out all those months ago?

Zdarsky: You know what, it’s pretty damned close! Some things have expanded for sure, but I’ve got it all mapped out. I’m not done just yet.

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(c) 2022 Kuljit Mithra & Chip Zdarsky
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear
http://www.manwithoutfear.com
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