Interview With Zeb Wells
(November 2007)

The co-writer of Daredevil: Battlin' Jack talks about the limited series and his collaboration with Carmine Di Giandomenico.

Kuljit Mithra: Carmine Di Giandomenico was pleased to work with you on the Battlin' Jack series, and he had mentioned that he wrote the story and then you and Warren Simons made suggestions and revised it. Can you go into detail as to how this process worked for everyone involved?

Zeb Wells: When the project came to me, Carmine had already done script and thumbnails for all the issues. As English is not his first language I was brought in to localize the script. In the process we ended up doing a little restructuring, like making the whole story take place during the last fight of Jack's life. That said, the main guiding hand was Carmine's.

Mithra: Jack Murdock has always, at least to me, been the tortured man who tried to do the best he could for his son, etc. Before you worked on this story, what did you think of the character?

Wells: That's a tough question, because he's been portrayed in a few different ways. But I guess I responded to him more as the tortured boxer who only made one or two good decisions his entire life. The bum who makes good in the end.

Mithra: With this story, you've shown that Maggie became a nun after giving birth to Matt. Would it have been too controversial (to you, or Marvel) to have had her already a nun when she had her relationship with Jack?

Wells: That was never really considered, but I don't think it was because of the controversy. For me it made more sense that Maggie's dedication to the church was a reaction to the pregnancy (or was possibly due to her families reaction to the pregnancy.)

Mithra: Do you think Maggie was selfish by giving up on Jack and Matt? Did she do the right thing?

Wells: That's for each reader to decide, but I personally feel that Maggie made a selfish decision. Maybe she was young and made a decision she didn't feel she could turn away from, or maybe she saw the church as more important than her family. People do odd things in the name of faith.

Mithra: I had asked Mr. Di Giandomenico about the portrayal of Jack's physical abuse of Matt... and he said this scene was included and reinforced by you (and he said you could probably answer this question better). What were your thoughts on including this?

Wells: I don't think child abuse is something that should be glossed over. If you're going with the idea that Jack is capable of abusing Matt, you have to show how ugly it is. DD is a hero, but nobody said Jack Murdock was. Neither Carmine or I wanted to shy away from Jack's warts.

Mithra: There were some new elements to DD's history that were introduced, and the first of the major revelations was Josie's relationship with Jack. Mr. Di Giandomenico mentioned that he initially wanted Josie as a good friend to Jack, but you felt she could be something more.

Wells: I thought that a lot of Jack's damage probably stemmed from his rejection by Maggie, who saw their relationship as a "sin." I thought that a key to Jack's redemption (and I use that term loosely) was getting past the guilt he felt. I thought we could use the relationship with Josie to do that.

Mithra: Do you think Josie has always known Matt was DD, and do you hope some future DD writer will use this new info? Or even if she didn't, it would certainly make a visit from DD to Josie's Bar be very different now that his identity is semi-public.

Wells: I wouldn't think Josie knew Matt's secret identity, but she certainly never would have forgotten him. That'd be great if someone did a scene with her and Matt in the current book...

Mithra: One of the complaints I hear on my board is about all these revisions to DD's history (ex. DD: Father) that have all these characters somehow connecting in the past. Do you think that's a valid complaint for this story?

Wells: Sure, it's valid. If it bugs you it bugs you, you know? I groaned along with everyone else when we discovered that Darth Vader built C-3P0. But Josie just struck me as a "lifer", someone who's worked in bars all her life, and Jack's a man who drank in bars most his life, so it made sense to bring them together. Hopefully we didn't go overboard but that's going to be left up to individual taste.

Mithra: The other major change to DD's history introduced was Jack's knowledge that Matt could take care of himself and wasn't just a blind helpless young man. So it makes Jack's decision to not throw the fight "easier". Even knowing this, did Jack do the right thing?

Wells: Well, he did the right thing for him. The thing I wanted to stay away from was making Jack's decisions too perfect. Again, he's not a hero. I think he's like the rest of us, an intensely flawed human being who's capable of heroic acts. In the end he made a decision that robbed Matt of a father, and Josie of a lover. Did he do the right thing? Very debatable. But I think it would go from debatable to despicable if Jack threw the fight thinking that Matt was defenseless and would be killed by the Fixer. But Jack realized that Matt was his own man and no longer his responsibility, and as a result he was able to make a decision as his own man. He decided to go with his gut and let the cards fall where they may, and sometimes that's all you can do. Again, he did the right thing for him.

Mithra: Since Jack's death paved the way for Matt to become DD and Matt has issues of his own... is Matt in a cycle of violence like his father was? Is his death going to be the only way out of it?

Wells: That's an interesting question. Daredevil is one of Marvel's most nihilistic characters, isn't he? I think we could all see Matt giving his life for something he believed in. That probably is how Matt Murdock's story ends.

Mithra: And finally, what's next in terms of comics work for you aside from Amazing Spider-Man? A sequel in the works for DD: Battlin' Jack perhaps?

Wells: I would give anything to work with Carmine again. He brought such passion to the project. If I heard he was excited about working on a Frog-Man mini, I'd be there.

(c) Kuljit Mithra 2007
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear

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