January 27's Daredevil #26 puts Matt Murdock and Elektra – the two current bearers of the name 'Daredevil' - face to face with the symbiote servants of Knull in a tie-in to the current Venom-centric crossover event 'King in Black' as part of the next chapter of writer Chip Zdarsky's ongoing Daredevil run.
With Matt in jail (masked, imprisoned under his secret identity of Daredevil) and Elektra on the streets of Hell's Kitchen (taking up Matt's Daredevil duties while he's away, to prove she's on his side against the villainous Hand), regular series artist Marco Checchetto will be joined by artist Mike Hawthorne, who has contributed to recent issues, to split Matt and Elektra's parts of the story between them.
Before the issue's release, Newsarama caught up with both Checchetto and Hawthorne, getting into the details of depicting two different Daredevils into different but equally perilous positions.
Checchetto, who designed Elektra's recently revealed Daredevil costume which debuted back in Daredevil #25, will handle Elektra's portions of the story in Hell's Kitchen.
"With Elektra, we stay in the urban environment. She takes the place of Matt and so we find the same atmospheres of the earlier stories," Checchetto tells Newsarama. "Elektra is certainly more elegant in her movements than Matt, maybe less brutal than usual since she tries in every way to limit herself to not killing anyone."
"As for Matt in prison, the atmospheres are certainly darker," he continues. "The prison where he is locked up is a miserable place, and we will see it especially in a particular sequence of Daredevil #29."
Checchetto put considerable thought into his Elektra/Daredevil design, with a concept based around Elektra's personal style rather than simply adapting Matt's traditional look.
"It was funny. I had no idea how to approach it. I did not want her to be just plain a woman in a Daredevil's costume, plus Elektra has a very strong personality and she would never have accepted wearing that costume. It is clear that she would have changed something," Checchetto explains.
"So I thought about giving her a look as close as possible to her original ninja suit, but totally covered up like Daredevil's one. At this point I had a huge problem - the mask. How do I get all the hair I usually draw on her into the mask? Checkmate, Marco!" he continues, laughing. "And so I thought of a Rey's hairstyle from Star Wars but out of her mask, and this helped to give her a Japanese look, also."
"Another thing I absolutely didn't want to do was leave the mask open on the mouth, but I knew that it would be useful for Chip to show her expressions at some points, and so I added a scarf that is flexible in any situation," he concludes.
Checchetto also plans to be onboard Daredevil for the long haul, alongside Zdarsky – a plan which necessitates bringing in other artists for some arcs.
"I’d like to draw all the books, but it's not really possible," Checchetto explains. "We've had a lot of great artists on the series like Lallit Sharma, Jorge Fornes, and Francesco Mobili."
"It's always a good motivation when you see other artists drawing the same things on a series, it gives me the energy to always try to improve myself," he explains. "Mike Hawthorne is doing a great job."
On that note, Hawthorne's portion of the King in Black tie-in story focuses on Matt Murdock's time in prison, while Elektra is on the streets of Hell's Kitchen.
"I've been tasked with the story of Matt as a prisoner," Hawthorne tells Newsarama. "The King in Black tie-in is really smartly done in that Chip is giving us a ground-level view of this huge event, but adding the extra conflict of how that kind of world-threatening event hits someone in Matt's position."
"Having had family in prison, you can get a sense that the world is standing still for people in prison," Hawthorne confides.
"But when big things happen, people in prison can feel that much more powerless. I wanted to give an authentic sense of that to Matt," he continues. "He'll deal with the events, but in a way that isn't as cut-and-dried as a typical superhero story."
To match the energy of Matt's life in prison, Hawthorne is digging into the differences between Matt and Elektra's approach to being Daredevil, and drawing strongly on the rough-around-the-edges aesthetic Checchetto and Zdarsky have given Matt throughout their run.
"I like the visual contrast of Matt's scruff to Elektra's razor sharpness. DD's cast of characters are perhaps my favorite of all the Marvel U, and it's because of that kind of contrast," Hawthorne states.
"Plus, on the few occasions I've had to draw Elektra, I've played to that as best I can. Elektra is someone that should steal the show the moment she walks in a room, whereas Matt could be a guy you might miss if you weren't paying attention."
Though Hawthorne is mum on how long he plans to remain part of the Daredevil creative team, he's got a clear vision to approach his time working alongside Zdarsky and Checchetto.
"Whenever you come on to a book this strong, with a team that is already killing it, your main goal is to just keep the quality up," Hawthorne states. "Marco and Chip are doing a run that I think people are going to look at long term, so I need to be respectful of that."
"It's also a beautiful thing to get to work with creators at the top of their game. I'm honored to contribute, even in a small way," he concludes.
Checchetto also sees his work with Zdarsky and the other artists who have been part of the book, including Hawthorne, as part of a tradition of long term Daredevil creative teams who make a mark on Matt Murdock and his life.
"I am very happy to be working on this series. Daredevil is a character I love so much and Chip writes him so well that even though it's been two years, I still don't feel the need to draw anything else," Checcheto says enthusiastically.
"In this long period we have given our vision to the series, introducing new characters or giving a precise designs to others," he concludes. "I hope these 25 issues, along with the ones we will do in future, will remain in the heart of the readers and beautiful part of the history of Daredevil."
But when it comes to what's next for Zdarsky and Checchetto's run, Checchetto has only one ominous tease to offer: "Rain, mud, and blood."
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