Interview with Saladin Ahmed (October 2023)

The writer of DAREDEVIL talks about coming onboard for the new volume, following the acclaimed Zdarsky & Checchetto run, and working with Aaron Kuder.

Many thanks to him for taking the time to discuss all things Daredevil.

This interview was conducted October 20, 2023.

Kuljit Mithra: I know that you probably don't want to talk about anything to spoil your story, so how about we start with this... whenever somebody new comes onto Daredevil, I try to read up on some of the work that they have done. I do have Terror War and Star Signs, and the new Spine Tingling Spider-Man that you're doing, on order. So, in all honesty, the only thing that I know that I have read by you is the Conan mini [Battle for the Serpent Crown] that had Nyla Skin!

Saladin Ahmed: [Laughs]

Mithra: So in terms of bringing back Nyla, does that mean that you've been a Daredevil fan for awhile? Because that's a very random character to include. Is that, like, you're an Ann Nocenti fan from the 80's kind of thing?

Ahmed: Yeah, that's basically what it is. Chip [Zdarsky] and I have that in common. You know that affection for... I mean obviously everybody knows how central [Frank] Miller's work is. But you know, Nocenti does not necessarily always get the same attention, and it's interesting because for me it's her as a writer not just... this is her as a writer broadly, you know, because the book that I probably got the most acclaim for before this was BLACK BOLT right, and it was like a weird kind of almost indie style book and she's like one of the few writers that I feel did the Inhumans right as well. So she's super smart, but I'm definitely taking notes from her sort of like whatever the social realist stuff with her for Daredevil. A combination of the cosmic or mystic, and the street level, I think it's something that I'm super interested in. So you know without doing anything derivative. You know, hopefully.

Mithra: When you were asked to write the new title, were you approached, did you have to pitch? How does that work in that sense?

Ahmed: I mean, it depends. It's a little different with each book. Sometimes people are campaigning for years, within the offices, they have a whole pitch ready. Every year it comes up, maybe you know. Then eventually they get there, they get their shot, right. Some people it's just like, hey, we need a new writer for this last minute. It really depends. With this it was very much the editor Devin [Lewis] coming to me, knowing Chip's run was coming to an end and being like, hey, we're looking for somebody new and based partially off my Miles Morales stuff, which is a team book, is sort of street level stuff we did have, even though we got kind of like alternate universe toward the end. It was very grounded Brooklyn stuff at the beginning of the book and, yeah, I think, based on that, some of my other stuff Devin came to me. My thing is always like well, you know, if I have an idea for the character, I don't want to just do it to do it.

Don't get me wrong every once in a while you do that because we need to feed our children but you know for a big gig like that, right, and especially with Daredevil, where you know that's where people just take their big swings in terms of big two superhero comics creatively. Yeah, I wasn't gonna do that unless I felt like I had a cool pitch idea and I had this kind of idea that I won't get too much into here. But I was sort of, well, you know, I have this kind of notion for Matt, but I don't know what's his status quo gonna be. Then I was like we should talk to Chip and Chip was like, well, I have this crazy place I'm kind of thinking of leaving Matt and it just synced up perfectly for what I had in mind as a kind of big Daredevil, you know year or two arc. So it was just like people talk a lot about the way that, like especially recent few handoffs, sort of one creator will sort of screw the other creator or leave them with a puzzle, as it were. Sorry, sort of puzzle, as it were. But you know, with me it was sort of more like it was a pretty perfect match what with Chip wanted to end with and what I wanted to start with.

So, yeah, so I did get asked. I wasn't ready to do it unless I had a idea that would fly. But when I compared the kind of bare bones of what I had with where Chip wanted to end up, I was like I had it's perfect and kind of took off from there.

Mithra: So, in terms of that overlap, you had a story and in your mind and if it hadn't worked with how he left Matt in Hell, basically, and reborn, would you have had a different story or would it still have worked without that element of it?

Ahmed: It's more like I would have. I had to know that Marvel was not looking for a very particular type of story, because you know, it's always like it's never just what's your perfect creative pitch, isolated, it's what does the company want as well. We're gonna work the corporate here. Corporate politics of like superheroes, right, it's sort of like Marvel, DC, it's the same either place. Right, you can have the perfect Batman story of mine, but if the project you're getting hired for is not the place where they're gonna let you do that Batman story, it kind of doesn't matter, right? So you have to have some sense ahead of time. What sort of story are they looking for? Sometimes they'll say, okay, so we're gonna reload.

If they had gone for wanting to go just full on, like completely tapped into a larger Marvel universe full on super heroics from page one, kind of reboot for Matt, you know, somebody could have wrote that awesome, but that wouldn't have been me. I had a very kind of spiritually oriented, kind of politically or socially minded kind of journey for him, and so I needed to know that they would be cool, and I needed to know that where Chip was leaving the story. This is almost a creative courtesy thing. I didn't want to feel like I had to just erase everything he did in order to tell the story that I wanted to tell. Sometimes you have to do that, but it's nicer to not do it because he left it in such a great place.

Mithra: That's good to hear that at least there wasn't really any kind of problem. It did work with what you were planning.

So, the first and second issue have come out. It seems -- and you can comment on how I'm perceiving it -- it seems like you want to bring Daredevil more into the wider Marvel Universe, just from some of the future solicits that have come out. I know that you don't like that kind of info coming out as much, because I know that you and also Chip Zdarsky also had this issue with how Marvel promotes some of the things. They reveal too many things right away. But I guess they have to market things in advance.

Ahmed: Don't read between the lines of solicits too much. It's not even Marvel specific, it's just superhero comics in general. It's very hard to have surprises because there's so much teased ahead of time in solicits. So you know, you can have a surprise, like we had at the end of issue two this week, right? Only if it's not like a big Marvel Universe thing. Right, but if it's a character that's inside this book... I don't know whether to reveal that or not...

Mithra: Yeah, we can keep that hidden for now.

Ahmed: Okay, you know, everybody who cares about him is like, oh cool, hopefully. But it's not giving away big Marvel stuff but it's a dance, and so for me, in terms of including the wider Marvel stuff, it's not really. I know there's some people who are like, oh, they kind of groan at the idea. That's always been part of the fabric for me, like even going before.

I mean, yes, I've been reading since the 80's too, but I can remember Matt being in Secret Wars II and getting his sight back by the Beyonder, or that's not separate from the stuff of being with the Inhumans and how right, like I think that's without overusing that stuff. It's not the Avengers, right? We don't want that every issue, we don't want it every two issues. But, yeah, there's some touchstones. We saw they already teased the She-Hulk cover. We've seen a Doctor Strange cover teased.

I like to think they come in an organic and fun way, but I don't ever have pressure to push a character in there. It's not like that. But you know, I remember like even going back to the 70's, I mean Marvel has been slapping characters together for so long that almost anybody you chose to pair Matt with he'd have some previous adventure with. So it's not really sort of a new thing or an MCU forced thing for that to happen.

I think it's just a question of how it's handled and it's handled pretty sparingly for us, you know, this first year again, without giving much away in the outline it's, like you know, 90%, 80% Hell's Kitchen centric stuff and then there's other stuff that I think has always been part of that. So this is a little bit of that Marvel universe as a whole.

Mithra: I don't want to spoil it too much because I know a lot of people don't read the comic right away, right when it comes out. But I am interested in the group The Heat that he has to fight in this issue, because it seems like they will also be appearing in the Daredevil Gang War mini. I'm just going by solicits that did come out.

Ahmed: That's your problem. You're being guided by someone. [Laughs]

Mithra: Yeah, so you don't have to confirm...

Ahmed: No, no, the Gang War spin-off, I mean, I've been in pretty close touch with that whole team and so we're definitely folding the events in the main Daredevil book kind of hopefully neatly around those events in the Gang War stuff. You know, I know people don't love buying a side book, but the reality is when you have monthly comics and you got 20 pages in a monthly comic and part of my task right now is not a reset, but a reorientation for folks with Matt because, yes, it's absolutely a Daredevil book but Elektra is Daredevil as well.

But when you restart with a Daredevil #1 that has Matt on the cover, there's this idea that you're going to spend a lot of your screen time there, and it's been this Catch 22 because I love Elektra as Daredevil too.

I really love what Erica [Schultz] is doing in the scripts that I've read so far and it's a... really to my mind to think about those two books happening, again, because this is the kind of thing too when I was a kid I did all the time was like reading two books at once and getting a richer sense of everything happening. Because The Heat, the gang that we introduce in issue two, they're going to be there for a good few issues in the main Daredevil book. But a kind of idea there is that Matt is still being Daredevil, even as his Father Matt, but he's not. He's not probably putting in the same number of street, you know, hours as he used to have to, because Elektra's there and she's doing her thing right, and so to me, if you really want a full picture of Hell's Kitchen, it's not like you have to buy both these books, but I think something cool happens when you look at them side by side.

Mithra: Awesome. So something I just remembered... with Matt becoming Father Matt, and I'm not going to assume here, you're not Catholic, correct? Are you Muslim?

Ahmed: I am. So it's a little complicated because, yeah, I'm Muslim, although my mother's side is actually Irish Catholic. So, I didn't get raised in that tradition but I'm culturally pretty familiar with some of the touchstones.

Mithra: Yeah, because I was going to say, I'm Sikh, so I don't know a lot about the Catholicism I read in Daredevil. I don't, you know, I don't fully understand the background of it. So I'm just wondering, like for you, do you feel you have to do more research to make sure you get it right?

Ahmed: I mean there's particularities for that, of course. I've done a bunch of research and some people will think I get things wrong and I'll get some things wrong. You know, inevitably and some people will think I get things wrong intentionally. You know Matt is not a conventional priest. He's not ordained in a conventional way. All that's very mysterious right now. We don't know how exactly he became a priest, we don't know anything about that yet. But it's not normal, right, he's not a normal priest. So if some of his behaviors, rites, language, things like that seem a little different than you know what we would expect from a very doctrinal Catholic priest, you know that's not surprising.

But I mean, I've researched this stuff tons. It's interesting because, you know, for all their usage of this stuff, I don't think most Daredevil writers are religious either. You know, I think most of them are atheists and in a weird way I think I'm more connected to that part of Matt because, you know, I am a believer, I am somebody who worries about disappointing God, right? So I don't think that's a huge part of necessarily a ton of Daredevil writers' lives, but I think it's a big part of Matt's life, you know, and so that's absolutely a point of connection for me. It's that spirituality and it's part of why I wanted to keep him, like in the cloth kind of thing.

Mithra: For me I do appreciate his faith and I see some of the similarities with my own religion. Ever worry about internet criticism of anything you're writing?

Ahmed: I'm a person who will always listen to good faith correction when I genuinely have gotten something wrong, but I'm also very, very used to being Muslim. I'm very used to just random internet jerks, spearing you, and so you know I've learned pretty well to deal with it.

Mithra: Before we go, I have to talk about Aaron Kuder's artwork. I haven't seen any of his work before, this is my introduction to his art. Even colorist Jesus Aburtov. I'm amazed because to follow up Marco Checchetto's artwork is a big task and it works amazingly with your story. Just the way that he is able to do that demon possession, some of the layouts in the latest issue, even that image of Matt just putting on the mask, like some of these shots are like really, really distinct, right, putting his stamp on the title. How is that collaboration going? Because you know a lot of writers and artists are not even in the same country. How do you work to get that kind of collaboration working correctly?

Ahmed: Yeah, and you know it's usually in big two comics. Unless you're an established kind of working pair, the editors are going to pair you with an artist. So initially it's kind of like you know, cold relationship, you don't know them, they don't know you. We might admire each other's work but we never work together. And then you just get to know each other as you work together. And with Aaron it was like, it was just super easy because you know he's a brilliant, very super thoughtful, not just talented but also just... there's a lot of story thoughts about just Matt, about how Matt would navigate the world, the kids at the youth home and you know just that whole approach to storytelling. You know, different people have different strengths. There are some artists that will, like, you describe something in a panel and they will evoke it exactly and it's incredible. And then there are some artists who will sort of understand the story you're trying to tell and kind of push it further, and Aaron's kind of more that kind of artist and it's awesome.

You know, the thing is with following Marco is like people really don't understand just the brutal pace of monthly comics, of producing art for monthly comics and just almost inevitably somebody has a slip or they have, you know, you have to fill in for X number of issues or whatever.

And really what Marco pulled off I mean through a combination of super human effort, god given talent, insane discipline, like all of these things, right, and also a little bit of luck. We're all like getting one slammed disease kind of thing away from getting too slammed to do this, right, and monthly comics does not stop. So it's a little bit of when you do something too well, you set up terrifying expectations, so kind of mad at Chip and Marco for setting expectations too high which is not to say in terms of talent or anything like that, but it's that run just in terms of the length. I've read somewhere Chip was the longest running writer on the book period.

Mithra: That total number of issues is including mini series and other things. I know Mark Waid has a beef with that [Laughs].

Ahmed: Okay, I'll keep that in mind next time I see him. [Laughs] In any case I mean it's an achievement, and I would never like try to measure our book by it. I'm trying to kill it, and so far Aaron's like delivered just like every panel and I've tried to give him stuff to work with. So he's just awesome. So I really hope to keep doing that for a while with him.

Mithra: Well, I hope so too it's great so far. I wasn't sure where it was going to go after that final issue 14 that Chip and Marco did.

The decision to have Matt start remembering his past life right away, there wasn't a plan to maybe keep him out of the loop for a while, or was that something you wanted to get going for your story?

Ahmed: That was essentially a Marvel dictate and it's sort of, you know, not to like pass the buck, I feel like we found a way to tell it. But there's a pretty strong impetus right now, unfortunately... whether people think this is true or not and it's not just at Marvel, this is industry wide.... but there's a sense in the industry that because sales have slowed industry wide a little bit, that we really want to put everything "bam pow" superhero up front, right. And so there's a real sense that like, do whatever you can to get your hero in the suit by the end of issue one, right? So there are some hills worth dying on and there's some not worth dying on.

And so it was like yeah, we can make that one. You know it was a 40 page issue, so I kind of think of that as the end of number two. I think a different kind of story could have been told. But the other thing is, I do think, you know, for an artist drawing stuff right, like you're drawing Daredevil. You know you want to draw him in the suit at least once the first time you draw the fucking issue right [laughs], so you know, Aaron, we had at least let him draw that by the end of the issue.

So it was a mix of things, but I understand why people were like, oh, why didn't you go this way? But we zigged instead of zagged.

Mithra: Okay, and I guess we'll leave with this final question... are we going to find out what actually happened to Matt? Will we find that out soon, or will that remain a mystery?

Ahmed: Yes, of course, I mean I'm not the kind of jerk who's going to be like here's this insane premise and never play any kind of sense behind it. But I do think that something for me that I try to bring to comics when I write comics, that I think people sometimes, when they get trapped in super granular continuity and super literal explanations, is like this sense of wonder and of mystery. So to me, when you have things like alternate lives, time travel, clones, you know doubles, like any of that kind of stuff, you know one person living inside another's head, none of that should just be super pedestrian where we can just explain it, you know, like it should always feel a little off and a little weird and a little disorienting.

So it is not sloppiness on my part. I have some very sorted out things about what happened to Matt, but the way that the reader will learn about them and the way that Matt's learning about them is not going to be, like you know, reading a synopsis or watching a synopsis video on YouTube. Right, it's going to be revealed in a manner of religious mystery.

Mithra: Awesome, that's great. I do appreciate you taking the time. I met Chip Zdarsky a few weeks ago at a Toronto show and I mentioned I would be speaking with you, so he said to give you a hard time. [laughs]

Ahmed: You know how he is, but yeah, he's a good guy.

Mithra: So thank you once again. I really appreciate it.

Ahmed: Okay, awesome, thank you so much. Take care.

(c) 2023 Kuljit Mithra & Saladin Ahmed
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

Read more interviews!

40th Anniversary
Ben Abernathy
Martin Ahlgren
Alejandro Arbona
Jose Guns Alves
Mahmud Asrar
Dick Ayers
Jonathan Barron
Thomas Baxter
Brian Michael Bendis
Black and White
Haden Blackman
Randy Bowen
Alan Brennert
Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster (2)
Ed Brubaker
Steve Buccellato
Bob Budiansky
Danny Bulanadi
John Byrne
Harry Candelario
Joe Caramagna
Sergio Cariello
Karina Casiano
Don Castro
Bernard Chang
Marco Checchetto
Dan Chichester
Holly Cinnamon
Gene Colan
Hector Collazo
Jason Copland
Matt Costello
Alan Cowsill
Charlie Cox
Greg Cox
Paul Crilley
Daredevil '83
Daredevil V3
Matt Deangelis
Keith DeCandido
Tom DeFalco
Roberto De La Torre
Rafael De Latorre
J.M. DeMatteis
Kim DeMulder
Brian Denham
Sunita Deshpande
Will Devokees
Jack DiFalco
Carmine Di Giandomenico
Cori Dioquino
Josie DiVincenzo
Chuck Dixon
Scott Dunbier
Kieron Dwyer
B. Earl
Tommy Lee Edwards
Elektra Hand Devil
Steve Englehart
Fall From Grace
Tito Faraci
James Felder
Karin Fong
Tim Flattery
Justin F. Gabrie
Christos Gage
Ron Garney
Pat Garrahy
Stefano Gaudiano
Uri Geller
Matt Gerald
Steve Gerber
Eric Michael Gillett
Christopher Golden
Steven Grant
Devin K. Grayson
Peter Halpin
Larry Hama
Cully Hamner
John Patrick Hayden
Jason Henderson
Stephen E. Henderson
Glenn Herdling
David Hine
Matt Hollingsworth
Caleb Howard
Dave Hunt
Alex Huynh
Ray Iannicelli
Alex Irvine & Tomm Coker
Tony Isabella
Richard Isanove
Chris Ivy
Danny Johnson
Mark Steven Johnson
Dan Jurgens
Joe Kelly
Karl Kesel
Lauren Mary Kim
Daniel Kish
Jim Krueger
Chloë Levine
Ryan K. Lindsay
David Liss
Scott Lobdell
Jeph Loeb
Wes Louie
Tom Lyle
David Mack
Jed MacKay
Clay Mann
J. Mallory-McCree
Jason Martin
Vatche Mavlian &
Brett Matthews

Shane McCarthy &
Martin Redmond

Matthew McCurdy
Scott McDaniel
Luke McDonnell
Manny Mederos
Jon Mefford
Stuart Moore
Richard K. Morgan
Tony Naumovski
Yvonne Navarro
Eddy Newell
Fabian Nicieza
Nikolai Nikolaeff
Ann Nocenti
Cary Nord
Mike Oeming
Ariel Olivetti
Denny O'Neil
John Ostrander
Jimmy Palmiotti
George Papadimatos
Ande Parks
Seth Peck
Khoi Pham
John Pirkis
Joe Quesada
Ben Raab
Bill Reinhold
Graeme Revell
Madeleine Robins
Robert Rodi
Javier Rodriguez
J.G. Roshell
John Rozum
Matt Ryan
Reza Salazar
Tony Salmons
Salgood Sam
Chris Samnee
David Sarrio
Christie Scheele
Lalit Kumar Sharma
Nandita Shenoy
Peter Shinkoda
Jim Shooter
Bill Sienkiewicz
Thony Silas
Warren Simons
Walt Simonson
Marc Siry
Elsa Sjunneson
Suzanne H. Smart
Kevin Smith
Spoken Comics
Will Stout
Stephen D. Sullivan
Billy Tan
Chris Tardio
Scott Terra
Ben Torres
Tim Tuohy
Josh Turi
Kate Udall
Susan Varon
Ron Wagner
Mark Waid
Lee Weeks
Lee Weeks (2)
Loren Weeks
Zeb Wells
Phil Winslade
Arden Wolfe
Marv Wolfman
Gregory Wright
Paul Young
Chip Zdarsky
Chip Zdarsky (2)
Chip Zdarsky (3)
Chip Zdarsky (4)
Chip Zdarsky (5)
Zachary Zirlin

COMICS: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7 | Annuals | Appearances | Costumes | Digital Comics | Hardcovers | Key Issues | Logos | Origin | Price Guide | Recommended | Reviews | Secret Identity | Sales Data | Titles | Trades | Untold Tales

CREATORS: Cover Artists | Inkers | Pencillers | Writers

MEDIA: Actors | Books | Cartoons | Computer Fun! | Movies | Music | Pictures | Sightings | Sketches | Video Games | Wallpapers

FANS: Fan Art | Fan Costumes | Fan Custom Figures | Fan Fiction | Fan Films | Fan Guitars | Fan Tattoos


Daredevil (and other related characters appearing) and the distinctive likenesses are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used WITHOUT permission.
Copyright © 2023 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Visit is owned and operated by Kuljit Mithra. Web site is © Kuljit Mithra 1996-2023.

Keep up to the date with your trusted Daredevil source on and