So - Daredevil #87
hit this week, and at least one
mystery is solved, that is, who’s been running around as Daredevil while Matt Murdock has been in jail.
So who is it?
Well, safe to say, when an article is called “Spoiler Sport” – there are going to be a few
Seriously – spoilers ho.
Stop reading unless you want to know what happened in the issue – and seriously – we talk about the fake DD thing, and the major
revelation at the end of the issue as well.
You can leave now, we’ll wait.
Okay – they’re all gone…so we can talk freely.
With issue #87, Iron Fist was revealed to be Daredevil.
Picture writer Ed Brubaker giving one big
sigh of relief.
“Yes, I'm relieved, but at the same time, it was always the plan to reveal it this issue, and it was never meant to be as big a deal as it ended up being,” Brubaker said. “It was just one part of a much larger story, one that the next arc follows up on. This whole ‘who's the other DD’ mystery that cropped up the last few weeks and ran around the Internet was unplanned, and I thought it was really amusing to watch, though a little nerve-wracking at the same time. I'm just glad it wasn't the only secret we were sitting on.”
As holding on to revelations such as this has become something of a job in and of itself, given the number of people both inside
and outside comic book publishers that are looking to reveal insider information for their own self-gratifying reasons, Brubaker said he was surprised that the identity of the imposter Daredevil lasted as long as it did.
“Clearly too many knew. I remember hearing that an artist on some Civil War
tie-in book - I think it was Cable and Deadpool
was at Heroes Con telling fans that it was Iron Fist under the mask, and I was like, why does this guy even know that? And if he knows, why doesn't he know it's a secret? So, yeah, I wish that more folks could've steered a bit more clear of it than they did, but I also appreciate that being included in stuff is part of the game, and I know no one was doing anything on purpose. I also really appreciate the great lengths Marvel went to to keep readers as confused as possible with each leak. There were so many rumors and theories floating around the net the last few weeks, that I think even people who knew were starting to be confused. And I thank David Gabriel and Jim McCann for that.”
It was Gabriel and McCann (Marvel’s VP Sales, Publishing and Asst. Manager of Sales Communication, respectively) who mobilized when it was realized that the “blacked out” portions of the script in the Director’s Cut edition of Civil War #1
weren’t “blacked out” enough. As a result, Marvel inadvertently published a comic with the revelation in it. Quick action was needed, and at certain hotspots where the Director’s Cut reveal was being discussed, confusion was sown – reports of “variant” editions of the issue were reported, with the reveal being Hawkeye, or other characters.
“You know, I wasn’t thrilled when that happened, but I didn't flip out about it,” Brubaker said. “It was brought to my attention early, and I asked what the deal was, and they told me, and then they guys at Marvel went above and beyond the call, and scrambled around to confuse it as well as they could. There was nothing malicious about that, it was just a flub. And honestly, all the attention that generated online was astounding. We had more buzz for this new issue than I could have ever hoped for. I'm already hearing about stores selling out around town here, so hopefully that's a national phenomenon.”
Being at the center of the mystery, the identity was never in question for Brubaker, obviously, but at the same time, he felt that it was pretty obvious. “C'mon -- Heroes for Hire... Hello? Plus, he was at Foggy's funeral with Luke and Jessica. Every clue was right there for people, same with the other big secret revealed this issue, there were clues laid right there on the page, plain as day.”
And no, there’s been no switcheroo a la Monarch in DC’s Armageddon 2001
a few years back (reportedly, too many people figured out who the villain was, so his identity was changed, resulting in a fizzle of an ending) – Iron Fist was always meant to be the guy who was under the mask.
“It was always Iron Fist,” Brubaker said. “It was in the pitch. Like I said, I'm an Iron Fist fan. I'm probably one of twelve people who thinks Essential Iron Fist
really is essential.”
Something that, looking back, suggested that it was Iron Fist under the mask was the utter lack of appearances elsewhere in the Marvel Universe for the past several months, something which Brubaker and the Daredevil
editorial team orchestrated.
“And thank god that worked out. Though the only place they were going to use him, I think was Civil War
, and they just used DD instead. So that was easy. It's not all that difficult to have people stay away from using Iron Fist, anyway. Though it's going to be harder soon, if I have anything to say about it. This is just the first step in Danny Rand's rise to power!”
And just to be clear, Danny Rand’s business, that is, “Heroes for Hire,” played a major role in why he was doing what he was doing. That is, he wasn’t posing as Daredevil out of the goodness of his heart. “He was hired, but he only took the gig because he thought it was Foggy hiring him through another lawyer. But also, he's a friend of Matt's, and he felt for him, so he was pitching in, as well. So, it was a bit of both. But it wasn't his idea, someone hired him. We don't know exactly who yet, though, just who their intermediary was.”
That intermediary was one Alton Lennox, a mystery man who has now become the center of Matt Murdock’s investigation into who’s been toying with him for the past months to years of his life. With issue #87 though, Murdock has taken a more active role in his destiny, escaping from Rykers (with the help of the Punisher) confronting this “other” Daredevil, and…well, finding a bigger mystery.
“Matt’s still being led around, but now he's like a puppet climbing up the strings to see who's hand that is. It's going to be a hell of a wild ride to get there, too.”
And as for Senator Engel and the FBI Director who’ve been manipulating things for a while now, and were responsible for putting Murdock in Rykers with a swath of notorious criminals (Rykers’ Warden Cole publicly blamed the FBI for the riot and resultant deaths at the prison)…?
“The Senator's not involved, he's just bringing down the hammer on the Director for all the terrible PR this riot at Rykers generated,” Brubaker explained. “The FBI Director is the only one being left out to dry, and his story isn't over yet. But he just got a little too smug and sure of his position, I think. He's taking it out on Matt, who he does have the legal right to go after, but he pushed it over the line, by putting him in Rykers, and now he's going to pay the price for that miscalculation - because there are other people with their hands in here, who we haven't seen yet. Like Alton Lennox, or maybe the person he works for.”
As for Murdock, issue #87 left off with him headed to Monaco – the last known location of Alton Lennox…or should he be called “Alton Lennox?” Is this Lennox fellow even a real person?
“Matt doesn't know it for sure, but he is,” Brubaker said. “Lennox is just the next link in the chain,
and Matt's only lead. But it's not going to be easy to find him, or find his answers. Hell, it better not be, right? I'm hoping for Matt to put on a Daredevil costume and jump around and hit people to get the answers, obviously.”
As far as the mystery of who Lennox (and whoever’s behind him) is, Brubaker said the answer isn’t as obvious as Iron Fist being the fake Daredevil, but there are clues.
“Lennox is no one we've yet to meet, but there are clues. There are always clues. I don't think there's been one single stray line of dialog or narration in this book so far that doesn't do something. Even Dakota had a line at the end of the second issue about Foggy's stabbing that a few people are now remembering.”
Oh – and for the long-time Daredevil fans…yeah, Brubaker wears his “I’m a nerd for DD” short proudly, as was evidenced by Matt Murdock using the false id/passport of “Mike Murdock” to flee the country. “Mike Murdock” – Matt’s sighted twin brother was a guise Matt hastily adopted back in issue #25 (1967) after Spider-Man accidentally revealed DD’s identity to Foggy Nelson and Karen Page.
“Ha! Yeah, Mike Murdock,” Brubaker chuckled. “Obviously, I can't have Matt in disguise as his
own twin brother and get away with it, but to get out of the country, with dyed hair and fake contacts that look like he can see? Sure. I'm a Gene Colan fanboy, plain and simple, and Gene made the joke that Mike Murdock was something great. So, yeah, that was a little nod to the old time fans. I had Matt in prison for five straight issues; they deserved a nod, at the least.”
As if the revelation of the fake DD’s identity and the return of “Mike Murdock” wasn’t enough, the last page of the issue held the biggest shocker of all: Foggy Nelson, alive, and being placed in protective custody.
Brubaker (not to mention Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada) took a load of heat for what many fans saw as the capricious decision to kill Foggy earlier in the storyline. But, the writer said, it was worth it. “It was really hard to keep the readers in the dark on that one, and play the bad guy, but I think it really helped them see through Matt's eyes, as it were, to understand why he went over the edge.”
Heck, nearly everyone was so sold on the idea that Foggy was
dead, that when the solicitation for issue #88 hit, with a story entitled, “The Secret Life of Foggy Nelson,” no one put it all together, and the most common train of thought for many DD fans was that the issue would reveal hidden, shameful secrets of Foggy’s. In other words, Brubaker killed Foggy, and then was digging him up to kill him again.
“Oh, come on - the clues were all right there, though. Matt's last narrative in #82 was, ‘His heart is still beating,’ and Dakota said he was stable in the ambulance. Danny even tells Matt this issue that he saw Lennox talking to a Fed at some point.
“So now we've got Matt out there, not realizing Foggy's still alive, looking for revenge on his killers. Pretty good set-up, huh?”
And it all starts to spill over next month in #88, when Brubaker is joined by fill-in artist David Aja.
“David Aja is this fantastic artist from Spain, who's stepping in to help out with this issue, so we can get ahead on the schedule, and he's been doing a great job. So great, that Warren Simons and I picked him to be the artist for the book that Matt Fraction and I are doing this November, The Immortal Iron Fist
. Which is a bit of a follow-up to Danny Rand's appearances in DD, as well as me finally getting my hands on one of my other favorite Marvel characters and getting a chance to really explore his history, and the history of the Iron Fist idea. I think we're really going to shock some people with this stuff. And David is going to knock it out of the park. I just got his first cover and it's dynamite.”