Interview with Chip Zdarsky (September 2020)

Mike Murdock has returned. In the DAREDEVIL ANNUAL, writer Chip Zdarsky explores some history that will now have a big influence on the title. Here we talk about the annual, and what the changes mean for Matt's future.

SPOILERS if you have not read the DAREDEVIL ANNUAL yet!

Kuljit Mithra: The last time we saw Mike Murdock was in the Charles Soule & Phil Noto story at the end of the previous volume of DAREDEVIL, and readers were left to wonder what kind of adventures he was up to with the Hood. We've talked previously about how you've collaborated with Soule on the transition, but was Mike always in your plans when you took over?

Chip Zdarsky: I always knew I’d come back to Mike. His introduction as an actual independent character by Charles and Phil was a highlight of that run and I’d be a fool to not use him here! I told Charles he’d be back and I’m a man of my word. My main concern was how to integrate him into the cast while dealing with his unreality.

Mithra: How long have you been working on this story, as many readers have just realized Butch has been in the comic since issue #13.

Zdarsky: I think I landed on the Butch idea during the first arc as I was planning out The Owl and Fisk’s ultimate storylines. In the script to issue 13 I made sure to let Marco know who he actually was so he could design him accordingly. So, I guess it’s been a year!

Mithra: This is a pretty big change to Matt's history... was pitching this more work than your original pitch for the regular title?

Zdarsky: Surprisingly no! I think once I laid out my plans, everyone above me understood that this will make for interesting stories. I really want to make sure most of what I do in the series is additive, y’know? I didn’t want to destroy Matt’s history but enhance it and create story opportunities. And Mike as Matt’s brother feels that way. We retain Matt’s origin while giving another layer and character to work with.

Mithra: Unfortunately with Covid-19, ship dates had to change and the original date in May was pushed. Chris Sprouse was originally solicited as artist, but Manuel Garcia, Le Beau Underwood, Chris Mooneyham, Rachel Rosenberg all came onboard. Had Sprouse already started working on the comic? How has it been coordinating through all changes?

Zdarsky: To be perfectly honest, I never saw any pages from Chris and had zero contact with him, so I have no idea how far along he was when the changes happened. Coordinating with Manuel, Le Beau, Chris and Rachel was super easy and I think a lot of pressure was taken off thanks to splitting the issue up between the present day and flashback scenes.

Mithra: Was this story always going to get its start in the Annual? Were there any plans to have it as an issue in the regular run?

Zdarsky: I originally conceived it as part of the series proper, but the story was just too big and we would have had to split it into two issues to make it work, which was too tricky to manage especially since it wasn’t really a Matt story. So, we landed on the idea of making it an Annual. Which was also a hard sell since, again, it’s a Mike story not a Matt story! But it was an important one so I did my best to telegraph to readers that it would be essential to the run. I know I spooked some readers with the One More Day title, but really that was me trying to stress that there was going to be a big reality-altering change. PLEASE FORGIVE ME.

Mithra: There is some confusion online about if Mike's history has now affected what others believe has happened. If you can't really discuss this yet, that's okay, but does Matt now believe he has had a brother all this time? Does it also affect how others, say for example Foggy, remember their history with Matt (and now Mike)?

Zdarsky: Mike has re-written reality. So Matt thinks he’s his real brother. The history has stayed mostly the same as Mike was still mostly out of the picture in this reality re-write. Matt still pretended to be Mike in those classic issues, it’s just that now he was pretending to be his actual brother. I will say though, this is a fragile thing, this reality tweak...

Mithra: And with Butch's introduction, and his not-so-mysterious father, Mike's past seems to be real now. It's like you doubled down to show readers you really want to keep working with this change instead of leaving it alone in an Annual story. Would it be safe to guess that with Matt's legal troubles, Mike and Butch are going to make their move against Fisk and others?

Zdarsky: Yeah, this is a big part of the story now. In the original reality, Butch has been scheming and working his way up solo. But now he’s doing it with his childhood friend Mike Murdock, which is really fun to write. They’ve got their eyes on the prize.

Mithra: Ah, okay, I was reading it as Butch came into existence when Mike's past came into existence... so Butch has "always been there", so to speak?

Zdarsky: Yup! Butch has always been Wilson’s son. It’s just that now he’s gained a lifelong friend in Mike Murdock. That’s always my plan: creating great friendships!

Mithra: Is it also safe to guess that we'll learn more about Butch's mom and his sibling?

Zdarsky: Oh, for sure. All the family secrets will come out.

Mithra: Last questions... what can you tease about the next few issues? Francesco Mobili, Mike Hawthorne, and Marco Checchetto are all coming up. Will issue #25 be a special milestone issue? Thanks!

Zdarsky: Oh man. I don’t want to spoil anything! There are a couple of fun return characters, some big decisions, some surprising altruism and, yeah, issue 25 is a major turning point for one of our characters. That issue in particular is probably my favourite of the run. Marco just kills it. Francesco has helped us out before and he’s even better now. And wow, Mike Hawthorne was born to draw Daredevil. I can’t wait for people to see these pages.

(c) 2020 Kuljit Mithra & Chip Zdarsky
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

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