We are very excited to present an interview with Mark Waid, the Eisner Award-winning writer of Daredevil and many other excellent comic books (including Kingdom Come and its follow up The Kingdom, both discussed here) as well as the co-founder of digital comics site Thrillbent. We met Mark at New York Comic Con last year and he was gracious enough to let us interview him for Law and the Multiverse.
Law and the Multiverse: As a writer, what parts of the legal process offer the most dramatic potential? What kind of scenes do you most enjoy writing?
Mark Waid: As a writer, it’s the trial itself that offers the most dramatic potential—but as a COMICS writer, it’s actually the LEAST dramatic, because it’s just dialogue and talking heads and people in ordinary street clothes, so I have to keep the actual courtroom stuff in Daredevil to a minimum. That means the real drama—and the scenes I enjoy writing the most—are the ones where Matt Murdock is using his super-senses to assess the claims of his clients, whether by screening their heartbeats and chemical tell-tales to see if they’re being truthful, or by investigating their claims in his super-hero guise.
LatM: Sometimes comics explain away tricky legal issues with fictional laws (e.g. DC’s fictional Twelfth Amendment allowing superheroes to testify in costume). We haven’t seen a lot of that in Daredevil, but are you free to do that? If so, are you ever tempted to, or does it feel like taking the easy way out?
MW: I’m not above using those fictional laws if backed into a corner, but honestly, I worry that it gets a little boring sometimes to work that hard to ground EVERYTHING in reality. A little suspension of disbelief is part and parcel of the entire genre. Remember, if you envision the entirety of the super-hero conceit, all 75 years of it, as an inverted pyramid, it all rests on one point—that a pair of eyeglasses is an effective disguise.
LatM: As an aside: there does not seem to be an explicit, canon explanation of the legal status of intelligent non-humans in the Marvel Universe (e.g. the Skrull). So if you ever wanted to create a fictional law or Supreme Court decision addressing that issue, it would answer a lot of questions for us!
MW: I will be in touch to help get it drafted. That IS a nifty idea.
[Ed. note: gasp!]
LatM: Do you ever see Matt Murdock working in the district attorney’s office? Or would trying to prosecute a villain that he fought as Daredevil be too much of a (personal) conflict of interest?
MW: It seems like too much of a conflict of interest–and it also grates against what I believe to be a huge conceit of the book and of the character, that Matt Murdock fights for the underdog. In fact, if it hasn’t already been done—and I fear that it may have—I’d love to do a story where Matt was forced to DEFEND someone that Daredevil brought down.
LatM: Along those lines: would he take a job at a big firm? Maybe Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, & Holliway?
MW: Again, underdog. Scrappy li’l underdog. Also, Matt’s billable hours are DEPLORABLE.
LatM: And speaking of GLK&H, will we ever see Matt and Jennifer Walters together in the court room?
MW: I’ve been trying to get to that point for a while now! Still talking to Dan Slott about his thoughts….
LatM: Might we learn more about Murdock’s time at Columbia law school at some point? Possibly meet some of his old classmates?
MW: Yes, absolutely. We’ll be doing more flashback material in Year Three.
LatM: Where did Murdock and Nelson go to college? Did they know each other there? And how did they get from college to law school? Was that something they had planned all along?
MW: I’ve fudged continuity a bit now to establish that Matt and Foggy met in law school. I look forward to your angry letters.
LatM: Do you ever incorporate things from the news or current events into your stories? What’s the process of translating something like that onto the page?
MW: Oh, dear God, do I ever. My Evernote and Pocket files are FULL of those kinds of stories–wrongful termination suits (which begat issues 4-6), stories of cruel and unusual punishment (issue 10.1)…and the entire Omega Drive story arose directly from the Julian Assange charges…every week I see some story of justice gone wrong or someone trying to game the system and I can’t wait to fictionalize it, amp up the stakes a little bit to make it a little more “super-hero-ey,” and throw Matt at it. Illegal geoengineering and anti-bullying mob justice mistakenly targeting the wrong perp and destroying his life are two examples of things I’ve clipped from the web in the last month and will find a use for.
LatM: Which comic book attorney would you rather have for a lawyer: Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Jennifer Walters, or someone else?
MW: Dude, Matt’s awesome in the courtroom but lousy at research and at keeping reliable hours. Foggy has problems of his own right now. And Jennifer Walters would be great, but she scares me. Give me the Earth-2 Dick Grayson–you can’t get more reliable and forthright than a lawyer who used to be Batman’s partner!
Thanks again to Mark for a great interview. And as always we look forward to the next issue of Daredevil!