Today, we look at whether Ronin was ever seriously going to be Daredevil.
In Nothing Was Delivered, we look at announced comic book projects that never came about. We'll try to find out WHY they didn't come out. I'm sure you all know tons of examples of comic book projects like these, so feel free to write me at brian[email protected] to tell me some for future columns.
This is a tricky one, in that unlike some of the stories we talk about in the past, there was never a firm story that was just changed after the fact. What happened here, instead, was that an early concept was leaked way before it was actually confirmed as a concept.
I've written about it a few times before, but I think I've made it sound more definitive than it really was. To recap, at the time of the New Avengers launch, the big story was that there was going to be a mysterious new Avenger called Ronin.
And in a big shock, in an article in USA Today, writer Scott Bowles revealed the following:
A "mystery member" is also on the team, but he won't be identified for several issues. Suffice to say he's a Marvel favorite, a Hollywood hit, and the item in his hands is a big clue.
Here is the cover Bowles was working off of, Joe Quesada's variant cover for the first issue of New Avengers (I think it was an even earlier version, where Ronin had more of a Mysterio look to his helmet)...
So, from that, it pretty much has to be Daredevil, right?
Check (more or less)!
The item in his hands?
Check (just like Daredevil's clubs)!
However, it was never quite like that. What Bowles instead discovered was Bendis being in the middle of CONSIDERING Daredevil as Ronin. It's a very important distinction to say "Yeah, we're thinking of having Daredevil be Ronin" and "Daredevil was Ronin."
For example, so much of this story makes it sound like the classic Armageddon 2001 story, where Captain Atom's identity as Monarch was leaked ahead of time, so DC decided to alter their plan and have another character, Hawk, be revealed as Monarch. That wasn't the case here. It wasn't like Bendis was, like, "Aw, everyone guessed Daredevil, so I guess it can't be Daredevil!"
Instead, it was "Aw, everyone is guessing Daredevil because this reporter reported that it was going to be Daredevil when we hadn't actually definitely decided that it was going to be Daredevil yet."
So don't get me wrong, this isn't a case where the Daredevil angle was just made up out of whole cloth. He WAS a consideration for being Ronin, he just was never at a point where there was something definitive like, "Okay, Daredevil IS Ronin." No, he was just a possibility, a possibility that Bendis had always been struggling with, since the then-current storyline in Daredevil's own series (which was written by, well, you know, Bendis!) involved Daredevil sort of going around the bend and naming himself the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. That's not a story that was conducive to him joining the Avengers, ya know?
Separately, Bendis' original plan for the end of his run was for Daredevil to be arrested and be in jail. However, by "his original plan," I mean that it was his original plan if he could get the writer who was following him on the series to agree to it. As Bendis explained to the great Dave Richards right here at CBR:
“If not for Ed, I wouldn’t get to do this ending,” Bendis explained. “This is the ending that I had originally hoped to do, but I realized it was the most obnoxious thing you could do to the new writer and I wasn’t sure who the new writer would be when we announced we were wrapping it up.
“I’ve known Ed for years,” Bendis continued. “We were talking about ‘Daredevil’ and I was telling him where it’s going to go and Ed said, ‘You should just end it there.’ And I said, ‘That’s where I want to end it.’ So he goes, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ And I go, ‘You’ll pick it up from there?’ and he said, ‘Absolutely.’ I was thrilled to bits because this is something I would not normally do to someone.”
So see what I mean? It's all about fluidity! Bendis's "original plan" was for his run to end with Daredevil in jail, but he never thought that that run would actually occur, because he didn't think the writer who followed him on the book would go for it and he wasn't going to stick some writer with that situation if they didn't want him to do it. Similarly, just because the thought was, at some point (where presumably Bowles was present for) that thee discussion for Ronin being Daredevil was happening, it doesn't mean that it ever would have actually happen.
So it wasn't, "Oops, I guess we got to pick someone else," but rather, "Who should this be? Would Daredevil make sense or would someone else?" and that is how it came to be Maya Lopez, Echo, instead. Once again, though, Bendis wasn't about to go do something big like this without the support of Echo's co-creator, his good friend and colleague, David Mack, so Bendis cleared it with Mack first and so, again, had Mack said no, Echo wouldn't been Ronin, either...
So it's really more about keeping your options open and going with the flow. And that approach was what led to Ronin ultimately being Echo instead of Daredevil. It wasn't, as some fans suggested, a case where it was ALWAYS going to be Echo all along, but nor was it a case of "Echo is subbing in after Daredevil being Ronin was spoiled." It was just the evolution of a story.
If anyone has a suggestion for another interesting comic book series/story that never got published (whether still an amorphous one like this, or one more definitive), let me know at [email protected]!
KEEP READING: How the New 52 Kept Us From Justice League/Transformers!
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