Interview With Jeph Loeb
(October 2000)

The writer of Batman: Dark Victory and Superman For All Seasons, talks about the upcoming Daredevil: Yellow series that will come out in 2001.

Kuljit Mithra: The Daredevil: Yellow limited series, by yourself and Tim Sale, will come out sometime early 2001. Had you always had a DD tale in mind that you had to write, or was this simply case of Joe Quesada asking if you were available for a DD project?

Jeph Loeb: It was a little bit of both. Joe had been asking us to do something for Marvel Knights and we had been wanting to do something for Marvel Knights. Remember, this was before Joe became the EIC and at that time, Marvel Knights was (and for the time being still does) the best producer at Marvel in terms of look and content. Those things are very important to both Tim and I. We know that Dark Victory, for example, costs a little more, but in turn, we hope that the striking covers, the better paper, the better PRODUCTION of the book adds to what is hopefully a compelling story. Joe was doing that exact thing, month in, month out, particularly on Daredevil, Punisher and Black Widow -- all three books which were in the freezer before he came on and woke them up. It was a very exciting opportunity for us.

Mithra: The Loeb/Sale team is known for 'year one' type stories for Batman and Superman. With DD: Yellow, you're focusing on the early days where DD wore his yellow costume. How long did it take to decide on what type of DD story you wanted to do, and what influenced your decision to go this route?

Loeb: Part of the reason we work in the Year One era is that it is the time we most relate to. Tim and I are both products of being Marvel Zombies (even moreso than DC fans), but much of the fondness is for a particular time. It isn't that we don't enjoy what is currently being done -- we just talk the most about the early days of Marvel -- the "Stan and Jack" of it all. It was a very magical time. They were reinventing comics and to touch the curtain of that is very exciting.

There is, of course, the practical part of not having to worry about current continuity or disrupting a story that someone else is telling. We're pretty much on our own, telling stories that we like to refer to as "stories that took place inbetween the pages of the stories you already know". There may be moments that you've seen before, but this isn't about remaking what has been done.

And lastly, and most importantly, there is a very strong emotional resonance to working at the early part of the career. I often point out that what made The Long Halloween work for US, was the tragedy of Harvey Dent's life was something the reader already knew. So, every time Harvey did something that made him all the more appealing, it was heartbreaking knowing what he would become.

Daredevil is FILLED with that kind of "that was then, this is now" emotion!

Mithra: What's your opinion on how the character has changed since it's early Lee written days, through Miller to the present?

Loeb: This is really the crux of what DD: Yellow is going to be about. When Miller came to the book, Daredevil became about the DECONSTRUCTION of the hero. Matt's life became unbearably (for him, not the reader) dark. He was destroyed emotionally and had to find his way back. Nobody tells tales of redemption better than Frank. Nobody. And Born Again is such a great highlight of not only Daredevil, but of all of comics.

HOWEVER, there was a time when DD was about the JOY of being a hero. This is a period, in particular, which Tim and I associate with him wearing the Yellow costume. He was not only able to do things that no blind person could do; he was doing things that NO person could do. That is what is so exciting to me as a writer. When I came to Batman, those stories about the detective working things out, being better at what he was doing as a man. In Superman For All Seasons, it is about a hero learning what the world was about and in turn what HE was about.

Stan Lee's Daredevil took to his role like a duck to water. And I think it very much had to do with being blind. He saw being Daredevil as liberating. But, unlike Spider-Man where Peter's home life and school life was incredibly oppressive and depressing (for Peter, not the reader) and in turn, being Spider-Man was a party, Matt had it pretty good. He was with his best friend, starting a business where he was a terrific lawyer. They hired this wonderful, bright ray of sunshine named Karen Page. And together, they won in the court room and Daredevil won as a hero. New York loved him. He had none of the problems that Spider-Man had; none of the internal struggles that the F.F. had. He was an adventurer -- I see a great deal of Indiana Jones in him.

Mithra: Any particular favourite DD arcs or issues?

Loeb: The obvious ones of course. The Elektra saga. Born Again. The Kevin Smith/Quesada storyline. But, then we get to the real smiles. Daredevil #7 where he went up against the Sub-Mariner and got his clock cleaned. Daredevil #9 when he went to get his eyes fixed. His first meeting with Spidey. Then, when Gene Colan came on the book, a whole new era began and that's the stuff we think about the most. Probably my favorite arc from the period is #42-46 with the Jester. What a great character who has sort of vanished. He was NOT the Joker and that made him pretty delightful.

And, I'm sorry, because I know most hardcore DD fans will cringe, but both Tim and I were MIKE Murdock fans. It was just so -- wacky -- that it worked. And that Stan created that identity with killing him in mind... it's just too cool.

Mithra: Is there going to be an explanation on why DD changed his costume to red, in your series?

Loeb: Yes. But, that's the heart of the series, and so we have to leave some surprises. My favorite theory on that subject was he only wore the Yellow costume because he was BLIND and didn't know any better. So, yeah, it is a series about fashion sense!

Mithra: Something I've always liked about Daredevil as a title, is its supporting characters. I'm guessing that Foggy and Karen will be appearing in your series. Are you going to portray them as they were back in the 60's, namely always worrying about Matt, and Karen secretly pining for Matt, or are you going to update any of them? I guess what I'm getting at is: Are you going to be writing the story as if you were writing this in 1964?

Loeb: Well, not as if it were taking place in 1964 -- any moreso than the characters in Dark Victory or For All Seasons ACTED like they took place many years ago. But, yes, Matt and Karen and Foggy will be younger. They will be full of hope. They won't know the pain that is to come for ALL of them and that, if it all goes well, will be what makes the series unique. Karen pining for Matt -- definitely -- but it was an interesting triangle back then, since Foggy had a crush on Karen, Karen and Foggy sort of took pity on Matt, and Matt was both enjoying it and couldn't believe that someone like Karen could possibly be interested in a blind man. But, they were in LOVE -- almost from the first time they met. And, Matt had the added bonus of being able to hear Karen's heart skip a beat. He cheated! But, his own heart he couldn't 'hear'. Ah, such great characters -- thank you, Stan!

Mithra: Is the series going to go over any parts of DD's origin, or will it just act as a story between issues? Is there a particular arc that the story will take place in? Will we see Jack Murdock at all? Elektra? Kingpin? Or are you keeping this at a distance away from the Man Without Fear limited series by Miller and Romita, Jr.?

Loeb: I don't want to give away too much, but, the story that takes place in Miller and Romita's Year One will not be part of the tale. So, Stick, the Hand, and those wonderful sorts of things which were retrofitted into Daredevil's background anyway (delightful, by the way) don't HAVE to be touched on since they didn't really affect his first few months as a hero. Elektra will be touched on, but only in a very slight way -- more of a character note. Battlin' Jack Murdock DOES play an important role -- but not one that you expect. There have to be some surprises!

Mithra: How about villains? Can you reveal any that may appear? Are they going to be the 'classic' villains like Purple Man and Stilt-Man, or are you going to introduce someone new?

Loeb: Electro, the Owl, The Fixer -- sure they'll all be there. There may not be new villains, but stories about the villains that we may not necessarily know. We'll approach the rogue's gallery much like we do with Batman. Cool visual, maybe a different attitude, but true to the spirit of the original character.

Mithra: What kind of art style is Tim Sale going to use in this series? I'm guessing the darker tone of say Batman probably wouldn't work here.

Loeb: You'd guess correctly. Tim has something in mind which will be as radical a shift as For All Seasons was from The Long Halloween. Even Dark Victory has a look which is different from The Long Halloween. I've seen some of the tests and it is quite awesome!

Mithra: Are you going to portray DD as a wise-cracking character, much like Spidey, or are you going to make a combination of the Lee DD and the Miller DD?

Loeb: He'll be a bit of both. Again, we want to focus on the joy of being the hero and less of the angst. So look for a lot of swinging around and perspectives on the buildings' height and how a blind man would react to all of that.

Mithra: What do you think is the fundamental difference between why Batman chooses the hero role and why DD does?

Loeb: Again, you are hitting at the core of the series. Their origins are not that different. Both lost their parent/s to violence. Both put on a costume to do something about it. But, Matt was older and also caught the man responsible. That has made a huge difference. Actually, Matt's origin is even closer to Robin's and in many ways follows that pattern of behavior. When Frank came on board, he retrofitted Batman's angst into the character, which was brilliant, but at his core, Matt -- at this point in his life -- is fairly well adjusted.

Mithra: What about Superman?

Loeb: They are just different characters. Clark quickly became comfortable with his powers and realized the responsibility he had to help humanity be the best they could be. He is, in so many ways, the son of the All Father, come to Earth to show us the best way. Daredevil is only about trying to tip the scales of Justice. He is a superhero lawyer, so to speak. And that's different than Batman who is not only out for Justice... but there is an element of revenge in everything he does. Matt has no issues of revenge -- after the death of his father's killer. He sees a wrong and wants it righted. Very clean.

Mithra: Finally, when will the series begin, and how many issues will it be? Any plans to do more DD work?

Loeb: We're tentatively thinking about next spring. It will be six issues long, 22-24 page stories in the "Universe X" format -- which is the Marvel speak for the Long Halloween/Dark Victory format. Card stock cover, better paper, etc. As far as any future plans, we can barely figure out what we're having for lunch, so we can't comment on anything after the series!

We're really excited and can't wait to see what the fans think!

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(c) Kuljit Mithra 2000
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
http://www.manwithoutfear.com
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