SHADOWLAND #1-5 Review



“Reviewing All Five Issues”

Writer: Andy Diggle

Penciler: Billy Tan

Inkers: Batt (#1 only),
Victor Olazaba (#2 through #5),
Billy Tan (#3 & #4)

Colorists: Christina Strain (#1 through #3),
Guru EFX (#1, #3, #4 & #5),
Hannin & Dalhouse (#3 only) 

Cover Art: John Cassaday & Laura Martin

Variant Cover: Billy Tan, Batt & Christina Strain (#1 only),
Billy Tan, Victor Olazaba & Guru EFX (#3 through #5),
John Tyler Christopher (#5 only)

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Warning – SPOILERS below!

I’m going to be tackling each issue as simple as possible in one single paragraph each. If you’ve had questions concerning the events of Shadowland, hopefully they’ll be answered here. Bare with me fellow web heads.

The Plot
(#1) – In Jigoku-Chu Castle somewhere in Japan is the ancient sanctum of the Hand where they have gathered together to discuss about Matt Murdock’s power over Shadowland. It’s just a matter of time before Murdock loses himself. Back in New York; after the events of Siege; a prisoner transport is transferring Bullseye to the Raft. While lying that the Sentry is coming back and he’s the only one who can control him, Bullseye fakes a cardiac arrest. The two agents use a defibrillator and save Bullseye’s life… but at the cost of their own when he kills them and the pilot. The first thing Bullseye does is decide to head to Shadowland. At Avengers Tower, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America tell Luke Cage and Danny Rand to go talk to Daredevil about shutting down Shadowland. At Shadowland, Bullseye kills a few Hand ninjas before drawing the attention of Daredevil who is now dressed in all black. The Hand and Bullseye fight one another while Luke and Danny arrive asking Murdock if he needs any help. Matt replies, asking if they will swear allegiance to the Hand. With a simple no, Murdock tells them to stay out of it as he then goes after Bullseye. After Bullseye has killed the group of ninjas Daredevil swiftly and without mercy dislocates both his shoulders before picking up Bullseye’s sai and kills him with it with Luke and Danny watching on in awe.

(#2)– Marc Spector swallows a small plastic bag containing a lock pick before smashing the windshield of a taxi cab, drawing the attention of Hand ninjas. His plan is for them to take him to Shadowland so he can save everyone that is being held there. At one of Danny Rand’s soup kitchens, Danny and Luke Cage are talking about what Matt did to Bullseye. After Luke breaks up a fight at one of the tables the Kingpin and Lady Bullseye walk inside. When asked what he came in for he remains peaceful but tells them that their going to have to take down Daredevil. In Shadowland, Tarantula tells Daredevil that killing Bullseye was the right thing to do which the Man without Fear replies saying he doesn’t feel anything. He then tells Tarantula he needs better fighters. Tarantula questions Matt when he tells him he wants to expand Shadowland and spread the word on the street that any and all costumed heroes are invited to join him under his authority. If they don’t, their against him. Elsewhere in one of Fisk’s buildings, Fisk wants to use the power of the Zugaikotsu warrior against Daredevil. He reads off an ancient scroll and Ghost Rider appears before him demanding what he wants, with Wilson Fisk simply answering, “What else, vengeance.” Back at Shadowland, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are with Shang Chi, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight to talk to Matt about what he’s doing. Before you know it Spider-Man arrives to also join in on this intervention. When the underground Shadowland dungeon is attacked by Ghost Rider just as Marc Spector breaks out, Daredevil hears this and believes that the group of heroes are against him. Matt and the Hand attack the heroes.

(#3)– Underground, Marc Spector is fighting off Hand ninjas with the help of the other people who were sent there while Ghost Rider continues blazing through them. When Spector asks what Ghost Rider is playing at he replies, saying he’s being controlled and wants to find out how this is happening to him. Back in Matt’s thrown room the battle continues to rage on. As the heroes begin to start losing the Punisher appears after blowing up a wall and starts shooting down Hand ninjas, buying some time for the heroes to retreat. When they escape they see the people in the streets out of control. Whatever dark powers Matt has tapped into is spreading. Back at Fisk Tower, Fisk tells Lady Bullseye that when Murdock crumbles he will pick up the pieces. In Shadowland, while Moon Knight watches on from the shadows, Daredevil tells Typhoid Mary to come with him and bring a shovel because they’re going to go find a new champion. Later in a graveyard Daredevil digs up Bullseye’s grave just as Elektra appears and chooses to side with him. The next day the heroes regroup and talk about whether Daredevil is an imposter or not until Master Izo appears, telling them that Matt is a vessel for the Beast of the Hand.

(#4)– While Hell’s Kitchen continues to get out of control because of Daredevil’s dark powers, Elektra and a few Hand ninjas are in a underground tunnel that only they and Matt know about. After hearing that Elektra kills them and opens the tunnel for the group of heroes who are now joined by Mr. I’m-Everywhere-Wolverine. He’s just here because him and the Hand have history with one another and he’s here to put Matt out of his misery. Outside on a nearby roof top, Kingpin watches on at the streets and says it’s time to begin putting the final pieces of his plan together. Back underground while the heroes are forming a plan, Elektra tells them Matt plans on resurrecting Bullseye. Either way Elektra tells them they either need to kill Daredevil or they will be killed.  During the resurrection ceremony, it is interrupted when Elektra kills the enchanter. While the heroes and the Hand ninjas fight one another, Punisher throws a stun grenade to block Daredevil’s hearing while Wolverine jumps in and stabs him in the chest. This doesn’t do anything when Matt just hurls Wolverine into a stone pillar and gets buried under the rock. Once the ninjas are defeated and Spidey tackles Matt down to the ground, everyone joins in and pins him down. It doesn’t work when Daredevil throws everyone off and is fully possessed by the Beast.

(#5)– The police are trying to handle the angry mob outside while Mayor Jay Jonah Jameson looks on questioning where the heck the Avengers are when you need them. Outside Shadowland, Foggy Nelson is climbing up the fortress wall but slips and falls but is saved by Ghost Rider who drops him off before driving towards Daredevil’s location. Inside, the heroes are defeated and just as Ghost Rider attempts a cool entrance by breaking through the wall he’s rejected his moment by getting a high stretched out kick to the face by weird looking Daredevil. Ghost Rider breathes hellfire on him but it literally does nothing to him. Daredevil grabs Ghost Rider by the coat and swallows up his hell fire, leaving a dried up skeleton in a biker uniform. Later, White Tiger drags Foggy Nelson to the destroyed throne room where Daredevil remains seated at. When Daredevil is about to strangle Foggy to death, Foggy tells him he’s better than this and that he’s his friend, Matt Murdock. Somehow this gets to Matt and while he’s distracted Master Izo knocks out White Tiger as Iron Fist charges in; with his hands charged with chi; and slams into Daredevil. Danny tells him that he wasn’t intending on hurting him but to “heal” and wake up Matt. Matt begins to fight his inner demons inside his sub consciousness while surrounded in darkness. Elektra appears through the darkness and hands him a katana, telling him to be a man without fear. Matt says to tell everyone he’s sorry before he stabs himself through the chest, the darkness disappearing around him. As the heroes surround the body of Matt Murdock the mob outside stops; everyone begins to apologize to one another while the police shake their heads thinking “WTF”. Punisher and Luke Cage look at the dead body of Bullseye and are glad that Matt wasn’t able to resurrect the monster. As everyone looks outside, Matt’s body disappears with Elektra only finding his black mask. Kingpin arrives at an undisclosed Hand fortress with Lady Bullseye and takes command of the Hand. Elsewhere at an unknown church, a hooded Matt Murdock enters and talks to a priest, saying he needs him to hear his sins. When the priest asks how long it has been since his last confession Matt replies, “Too long father… way too long.”

The Good
Holy crap that took me almost forever to write, I’m going to say it now that I won’t be able to match my list of good things and bad things to this event. Alright, let’s jump at a few good things anyway.

At the beginning of Shadowland, the writing was good. You can tell the difference in the voice between the Daredevil we all know to this darker one who’ll do anything as long as justice is served. Killing Bullseye right off the bat was a daring move but it worked to develop the character. This should haunt Matt for the years to come since he chose to cross the line between hero and villain.

The art was nice to look at. I’ve enjoyed Billy Tan’s artwork since his arc on New Avengers a while back. With the help of the other colorists each panel was nicely done with detail.

How exactly did the Kingpin even end up becoming the new leader of the Hand? This wasn’t explained in the main title at all so I’m guessing it might have been answered in the Daredevil title. Either way, Kingpin gets some ninjas!

Near the end, it was nice to see Matt finally own up to what he did and actually be a Man without Fear. The repercussions in this event have defiantly changed the landscape of the streets.

The Bad
And with that I can’t find anything else good to say about this story. I mean the first two issues were alright but then it just started to slowly spiral downwards.

First off I was spoiled by the death of Bullseye when the teasers for the event came out. By the time I flipped through the first few pages I already knew what was going to happen. I wasn’t shocked at all and whatever shock value that was supposed to raise my interest went out the window. Now that I think about it, minus the teaser I just mentioned, the others never even happened.

One of the big problems I had with this event was that weren’t we suppose to be taking a break from them for at least the year? I don’t know if they were named otherwise, but this and Chaos War seemed to be events to me. Another big problem I had was that I only read this book because I thought I didn’t actually have to look at the minis and one shots. I didn’t believe they were important enough to literally tie into the main book. I was wrong. From reading the book it’s as if you had to almost read every single one shot and mini-series that came out during this event. I got lost with a lot of things like what happened to Moon Knight? What exactly has Ghost Rider been doing this entire time? Why is this person here??

Speaking about that last question, what was the real point of Wolverine actually being here? Answer: to get more money out of you. Spider-Man I understand because he’s a street level hero along with Moon Knight and even the Punisher. Wolverine; no offense; but go back to the X-Men and stay there for once. His appearance in the forth issue was completely out of nowhere, and his excuse? “I have history with the Hand and I got beef with them.” So? If you have a problem with them go deal with it in one of the five or six other titles you’re in.

Ghost Rider getting beaten so easily annoyed the crap out of me. As a fan of the character and from the looks of the final cover I was expecting the Spirit of Vengeance be the one to take down Daredevil. No, instead he becomes his b***h and literally does nothing to help the situation. What was the point, just to show how powerful “The Beast” is? I read the Ghost Rider ongoing series when it was out and I know the guy can do a lot more then what he was written here.

I have no clue what happened in the Elektra one shot so I can’t even say why she changed sides all of a sudden from the end of #4 to the beginning of #5. If I was the richest guy in the world I probably would have picked up all these side stories but I’m not. You can all understand that our lives come first before comics, its common knowledge. Yeah, I was left confused during parts of this story.

And finally before I think of something else, what’s up with Daredevil being stretched out? I know he’s possessed but you can actually draw him possessed without him being like… that.

Favorite Spidey Line
Spider-Man: “That whole black costume thing? Never ends well. Trust me on this. Also, you should totally fire your rooftop sentries. Anyone could wander in here!”
(Spider-Man appearing out of nowhere, looking down at everyone in Daredevil’s throne room – Shadowland #2)


There were a lot of things that just didn’t sit well with me while rereading these issues again. I kind of expected an event book that you could actually read without reading the other dozens of minis and one shots and still get what’s going on. The writing was okay, the artwork was pretty good and the beginning of this title wasn’t bad. If you’re a person that reads comics that only revolve around the street based heroes, you should read this. Overall, 2.5 out of 5 web heads.

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