SHADOWLAND

“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)

Rating

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.

9 Responses to “SHADOWLAND #1-5 Review”

  1. #1 Fred says:

    Welcome to the review section. I thought your review was well written and very informative. Unfortunately, i did not like it as much as you did. I thought the entire thing was awful. Badly executed and just a flat out cop out. Its Marvel trying to have their cake and eat it to. At first when i heard this was going to happen, i thought that it would be a great series, like a Greek tragedy. Daredevil was going to go way too far with his association with the hand and bring upon his own down fall. It would have been a good send off for the character to ether have him pay for his crimes or take his own life out of guilt over what he has done. Realizing that he has become the evil he has swore to fight against. Instead, we get a badly edited, badly written cop out that should have been 2 issues shorter. To have Daredevil possessed by a demon was just stupid and takes away the emotional weight of what Daredevil was going through in his own series prior to what was going on. It shows Marvel at its worse, trying to have their cake and eat it too with out any real repercussions and that in my opinion destroyed all the good will the character of Daredevil had with me. I can’t take the character seriously any more and that has far more repercussions for his fan base that actually killing him off. At least killing him off would have been almost an accumulation of everything he has gone through but to have his own problems been made into a joke by adding a supernatural explanation just flies in the face of his entire history.

    Another problem i had with the series is with all the gust stars, which really did not need to appear and all the limited series and one shots, which added nothing to the story at all. On top of that, their characterisation was way off and i agree with the review about Ghost Rider, just being there in order to have the best beat him up to show how tough the threat was. The bad part about that is that Ghost Rider has fought tougher demons before, so this is another example of bad characterization.

    Shadow land is a prime example of what is wrong with the comic industry as a whole and if they don’t get their act together and start respecting not only their characters and their histories but the fans as well, i can only see things getting worse from here.

  2. #2 butters911 says:

    I tried reading Shadowland. i stopped after issue 4 I think, so its nice to read how it ended. Shadowland was so bad though. some of the other titles I enjoyed (particularly Power Man and Blood on the Streets). I think this could have been a great story, and they really missed a great opportunity here. Bullseye is one of my favorite villains. Between this story and Big Time Three of my favorite villains have been killed off. Im not a fan of bringing back dead characters, but Daredevil needs Bullseye as his arch enemy like Spidey needs the goblin, or the Fantastic four need Dr doom. It wont feel the same (until they eventually bring him back anyways)

  3. #3 DPFW says:

    I haven’t read any of the minis or much Daredevil at all, so I’m still confused… What is “Shadowland”? Is it a (fictional) territory in NYC that Daredevil carved out for himself?

  4. #4 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    Good review, heartburn. It’s funny, but I saw Shadowland Review and then I thought, “Oh, yeah. I forgot Spidey’s in that!” Will you also be reviewing the Shadowland: Spider-man one-shot?

    I followed this crossover (I think it was advertised as such rather than as an event). The thing is, you can’t read the main Shadowland title without reading Daredevil #508-512. Most of the things that are left unexplained in the main title are elaborated on in DD’s book: we see DD succumbing to the Beast, Izo and Elektra conspiring to free Murdock (so she was gonna betray him from the start), Typhoid Mary joining Matt’s cause, the reveal that she was a double agent for the Kingpin, Fisk’s takeover of Shadowland, the fate of Tarantula, Black Panther’s first appearance in Hell’s Kitchen, and Matt leaving New York.

    Oddly enough, a lot of the tie-ins, though unnecessary in the big scheme of things, are actually pretty good. Power Man was pretty good, and so was Blood on the Streets. Daughters of the Shadow was alright. Thunderbolts was cool. Bullseye’s one-shot stunk. I don’t know about the Moon Knight mini or Spider-man one-shot. The Elektra and Ghost Rider one-shots were awesome. The former is supposed to take place before SL #1. The latter deals with Ghost Rider freeing himself from Fisk by taking down the Japanese Hand headquarters.

    The most annoying part, overall, was that the crossover was just another “reset button” to take Matt’s leadership of the Hand away. Joe Quesada’s editorial at the end of DD #512 just pretty much confirmed that it was an editorially mandated event.

  5. #5 Fred says:

    Daredevil #508-512 are mandatory to read but the rest are not with the possible exception of maybe the Ghost Rider one shot and even that was superficial at best.

  6. #6 Nathaniel Collins says:

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    @Fred – I didn’t feel it needed to get a lower grade because I thought the first few issues weren’t that bad and the artwork was pretty good. I thought it at least earned a 50% on the scoreboard. As for Ghost Rider, like I said, annoyed the crap out of me. This is the guy who literally fought the Devil and BEAT him, yet he gets his butt handed to him like this? It didn’t sit well with me. And the guest stars… well, you already heard my thoughts on just Wolverine.

    @DPFW – Pretty much. Shadowland was an idea Matt had while leading the Hand. During Dark Reign, him and Bullseye had a confrontation and in the end a building full of civilians was blown up, everyone inside died (except I believe the new Power Man? Two-Bit can answer that, I only read the first issue of that mini). Matt swore to not let that happen again so he decided to create Shadowland in the same spot that building was destroyed, to remember his failure. Shadowland was pretty much his kingdom while leading the Hand and since he couldn’t trust the law with Osborn in charge, he took the law into his own hands. So he started to send people to his Shadowland dungeon, whether they be crooks or dirty cops. Once the Heroic Age started the heroes believed that Shadowland wasn’t needed anymore and well… you get the rest.

    @ Two-Bit Specialist – The only minis I grabbed were the first issues of Power Man and Blood on the Streets and the one shots of Bullseye and Spider-Man. I do read Thunderbolts so I obviously picked those up. Well since I just reviewed Shadowland, I might as well take it upon me to review Shadowland: Shang Chi… *COUGH* I mean Spider-Man. :)

  7. #7 Hambone says:

    The whole Ghost Rider thing bugs me, the Kingpin apparantly was controlling him with some magic scrolls, but nothing really came of that, right? Also who WAS this incarnation of Ghost Rider? Is it Johnny Blaze, because it really didn’t sound like him when he spoke. Did they ever answer this in any of the one shots? :(

  8. #8 Nathaniel Collins says:

    It was most likely Johnny Blaze because last I checked, Danny Ketch donned a long trench coat instead of the biker jacket. I also wonder what the heck happend with Danny not being here if Johnny was? Either way, Ghost Rider got screwed over in this story.

  9. #9 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @Hambone and Nathaniel

    On Power Man: to be honest, I didn’t read any of that mini’s issues, but I kept up with it through my usual outlets. The new Power Man is Victor Alvarez, the son of one of the tenants of that building that Bullseye blew up in Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil. When the explosion occurred, he was having an argument with his dad and had just said some awful things to him before everything went to blazes (this is seen in #2). That’s pretty much all I know. I’ve heard tons of praises for that mini, one going so far as to compare him to a Spider-man archetype. He’s set to co-star with Iron Fist in a new “Power Man and Iron Fist” series.

    On Ghost Rider: Lady Bullseye had stolen some Hand scrolls to summon the Ghost Rider. This is definitely Johnny Blaze, as seen in his one-shot. Here’s a couple of links for you guys, but Kingpin does refer to him as Blaze:

    http://comicbookrevolution.net/images/stories/shadowlandgrpg13.jpg (he’s infiltrating the Japanese Hand compound as human)

    http://comicbookrevolution.net/images/stories/shadowlandgrpg20.jpg (this one is NSFW, because Johnny is in heaven and nude here)

    The whole premise is Blaze fulfilling Kingpin’s wishes in order to finally be free from his control.

    Seriously, if you get a chance, read this book. Ghost Rider rides on the ocean and parks on a whale, and in the end he calls in a favor from God for saving heaven in the Heaven’s on Fire mini (apparently, Ketch was in that, too) and has an angelic army slaughter ninjas. It’s also drawn by Clayton Henry, the same guy who’s doing the Carnage mini now.