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DD Book Club - Shadowland
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1645

PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2022 9:26 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club - Shadowland Reply with quote

Well, I put it off as long as I could, but we're finally at Shadowland. There's a couple reasons I wanted to tackle this now. First, we're in a new Daredevil event so it might be interesting seeing how the two intersect. Second, there's the Elektra Daredevil series starting and there's a clear Elektra presence in this story. Also, I'm pretty sure Chechetto is involved in this event.

We're not covering the entire event, but I wanted to include the main series and the Daredevil books. I thought about just the Daredevil books, but I figured that would be ultimately confusing. We're also going to cover the one Elektra tie-in. Here is the reading order I'm using:

Shadowland #1
Daredevil #508
Daredevil #509
Shadowland #2
Daredevil #510
Shadowland: Elektra #1
Shadowland #3
Shadowland #4
Daredevil #511
Shadowland #5
Daredevil #512
Shadowland: After the Fall #1

I think that's really what's relevant. I thought about the Ghost Rider tie-in, but ultimately decided against it.

Shadowland Vol. 1 #1

Quote:
Matt Murdock Dared Evil…and Lost! The battle for the soul of a hero begins! Pushed beyond his limits, Daredevil faces off for a final time against his deadliest foe--Bullseye-- in their most brutal battle ever with more than just Hell’s Kitchen is at stake. Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Punisher and more join forces to stop a war that is breaking out throughout New York, with Daredevil at the center. This event will change the streets of New York City—and the heroes that protect it—forever. Plus, a jaw-dropping final page that will have everyone talking for years to come!


Due 1/8
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Last edited by Mike Murdock on Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:46 am; edited 2 times in total
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1306
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2022 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure I never picked up Shadowland: After the Fall (so I guess I'll read that via Unlimited), but Daredevil #512 came out under the Shadowland banner. Shouldn't that be part of this?
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2022 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to admit I look back on this event with a lot of disgust. I think writer Andy Diggle showed a considerable amount of misunderstanding as to what is so great about Matt Murdock. But I'm going to try to go into this exploration of Shadowland with an open mind.

This issue is okay.

If there is any one thing that's holding this issue back for me it's artist Billy Tan's inconsistent artwork, which I really shouldn't criticize since I can't draw. Still, it's less than what I expect for a big Marvel-wide crossover. (Even though this was relegated to only Marvel's street-level heroes.)

Bullseye is really the main focus throughout this issue, and Diggle does a great job writing the character. He's truly dangerous, and murders gleefully.

I have no idea why Diggle elected to begin the issue reprising the Snakeroot's boast of how they will be the last ones standing. The overwhelming majority of readers will not have any idea of who they are since they came out of a Z-grade Chichester event nobody remembers. Still, it only lasts a couple of pages. The other non-Bullseye scene involves Luke Cage and Iron Fist talking with the Big Three Avengers. This is a fine scene, even though this is the period when Bucky was filling in as Captain America, and Diggle didn't really make any effort to write Bucky differently from Steve Rogers. I can understand that wasn't his main aim, but Bucky is one of my favourite characters, so I can't help but notice.

It seems like a lot of time has passed since the events in Japan from the previous issue of Daredevil. Matt has clearly been swallowed up by the Hand, only willing to accept Luke and Danny's help if they swear allegiance to the ninja cult. The issue ends with Matt savagely murdering Bullseye, echoing the famous murder pose of Elektra from #181 of course.

I can see how a casual Marvel fan probably thought this was cool at the time, and was excited to read the next issue, so I have to give it points for that. However, as someone who was having a problem with the Hand's courtship of Matt at the end of the Brubaker run, and a big problem with his acceptance of their offer ever since, the events of this book can't help but be disappointing. I still don't think Matt is this naive, and this story depends on that naivete just to exist. That's my hang-up I guess, but that's where I stand.

Because Bullseye is so well-written, and he is the character who drives this issue, I'll give this a passing grade, but I have to subtract points for Tan's inconsistency. Three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1645

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
I'm pretty sure I never picked up Shadowland: After the Fall (so I guess I'll read that via Unlimited), but Daredevil #512 came out under the Shadowland banner. Shouldn't that be part of this?


Yep, should be there. I just added it right before After the Fall.

My thoughts:

There's a lot of filling in background for people who are new in this story. It makes a lot of this feel like filler and sort of takes you out of the story. The main takeaways is Shadowland is a giant castle that creeps out the Avengers (although they don't want to do much about it), Bullseye has escaped, and Daredevil is wearing a new costume and wants people to swear allegiance to the Hand. That last part makes him seem somewhat out of character to begin with. He's uncompromising and dogmatic and isn't trying to make his friends understand his point of view.

The last half is a fight scene. The thing that stands out to me is how rushed this scene feels. The final moment is a big moment - Daredevil decides to kill a defenseless Bullseye rather than risk him killing again. The way it's done is a deliberate (and obvious) callback to Bullseye's murder of Elektra. But the whole thing happens way too suddenly. Obviously, I don't like Matt killing people. Normally, I'd spend a lot of time ranting about it, but the quick speed of everything makes it hard to feel much of anything.

Three Stars. The story needs more dialogue or narration, or maybe just better pacing. The concept is fine, but there's nothing that makes me feel connected to it.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The title of this issue can arguably be confusing...

Daredevil Vol. 2 #508 - Shadowland: Part 1

Quote:
SHADOWLAND Tie-in Matt Murdock has long played judge and jury to criminals as Daredevil, but has he now become executioner as well?! SHADOWLAND takes over Daredevil and his friends aren't about to stand by and lose him on the path he seems destined for. A major player joins the battle as Hell's Kitchen is about to live up to its name once more!


Due 1/15
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't have much memory of this issue, and it's easy to see why. This issue brings Detective Kurtz into this story, and some of Daredevil's new harshness is on display. Kurtz basically comes off as a Commissioner Gordon copy, monologuing on how grim Hell's Kitchen has become.

Foggy is holding out hope that Matt isn't lost forever, while Becky thinks he's too far gone. Dakota seems to agree with her, but is willing to help Foggy reach out to Matt.

Otherwise, this issue doesn't do much to move things forward. We already know that White Tiger is a servant of the Snakeroot. We already know that things aren't good in Hell's Kitchen.

Matt's struggle against the possession of the Hand is comically over-the-top. It was pretty cliche.

The cliffhanger has Izo talking to Elektra at the Wall of the Chaste, and I guess I lost track of where we are in Elektra's story. I'm pretty sure we knew by this point that the Elektra that was leading the Hand was a skrull. So this is the real Elektra, right? When did the Chaste let her back in their fold? I don't think we were ever told. Hopefully the following issues shed some light.

Roberto de la Torre provides some good art, but I think the arrow in the tire could have been more artfully laid out. Otherwise, this issue is pretty inessential, since the main story is in the Shadowland series, and the Daredevil series can't take the lead when it comes to storytelling. Three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the little bits focusing on side characters. Foggy/Becky/Dakota get some attention, Detective Kurtz gets some attention. In events, it's easy for character moments to get lost. Foggy and Dakota are still trying to help Matt so they reach the edge of Shadowland to talk to him. They run into Angela Del Toro, who is obstructing their task. This story definitely paints her as the antagonist.

Daredevil's plot consists of him being grumpy and then saying "No" a lot followed by "yes." I'm joking a bit since I know what that signifies, but it's still a little clunky.

Side note, bringing up that Bullseye killed Elektra feels very out of date now. Elektra is alive and he also killed Karen Page. That seems the far more relevant fact point.

I've heard that the Daredevil issues are better than the main plot. I'm going to try to pay attention to that as this story progresses. That being said, this isn't a significant improvement. I do like seeing the side characters, but it's still a fairly confusing story without any real substance to it. Honestly, the two seconds of Kurtz might be my favorite part, but it was over too soon. Three and a Half Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2022 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we have to read Shadowland #2 before Daredevil #509.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2022 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm happy to do it that way if you want.

Shadowland Vol. 1 #2

Quote:
The battle for New York begins as battle lines are drawn and war forges strange allies. Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Moon Knight and...Kingpin?! Plus, a dangerous new player enters the battle, one that could win the fight...or damn all of New York!


Due 1/22
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first time I read this I didn't know very much about Moon Knight or Ghost Rider. I still don't know a hell of a lot, but I'd like to think that I would catch on to some things reading this today that slipped by me a dozen years ago. I'm not blaming myself though, because I truly agree with Stan Lee's oft-repeated phrase, "Every comic book is somebody's first." I really don't think writer Andy Diggle, or the rest of the creative team, took that to heart when working on this issue.

Twelve years ago I failed to realize that the Zugaikotsu warrior the Kingpin was summoning was Ghost Rider. I failed to connect the extreme close up of his boot to the character, along with the Kingpin's reference to "vengeance." Even today, Ghost Rider is not a character that occupies a lot of time in my mind, so I can't guarantee that his boot or that word would trigger recognition. So when Ghost Rider tears through the dungeon on his motorcycle later on in the issue without uttering a single word suggesting he's being controlled by Wilson Fisk, I didn't make a connection between the two scenes. Perhaps I would today, but I can't be sure. I certainly think Diggle and artist Billy Tan could have done a couple things differently to make sure that connection wasn't missed.

I think Moon Knight came across pretty cool, although the only thing suggesting that this character is Moon Knight is the logo accompanying his narration boxes. However, even twelve years ago I made the connection because he appears on the (boring) cover in costume.

Luke Cage and Danny Rand are written well, and I liked the way Tan draws Fisk.

But already this early into Shadowland, my big problem is rearing it's ugly head: I'm a big fan of Matt Murdock, and he is nowhere to be seen here. This guy in the black Daredevil suit is not Matt. I realize this story is about possession, but that's a big problem when your favourite character displays none of the traits that made you a fan in the first place.

Also, the fight that serves as this issue's cliffhanger is all due a misunderstanding, which is always a cheap device for conflict.

Tan has some great pages in this issue, and Diggle shows some good understanding of a few characters here, but I don't think this story is working. I give this issue a generous three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2022 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The issue opens with Moon Knight. I know very little about the character, but I do know he has multiple personalities and one of them is a cab driver. The little crescent moon in his thoughts made it clear who he is. The trailer for his new TV show just dropped, though, so this feels like appropriate timing.

The Danny and Luke scene is delightful, but it quickly transitions to a proposition from Wilson Fisk. Fisk's voice is perfect for what the Kingpin used to be (before Bendis and then the Netflix show lowered his vocabulary). He makes excellent points while you know agreeing with him has to be compromising on some inherent belief.

All the heroes try to do an intervention. It goes as well as you think it would. Daredevil did a "if you're not with us, you're against us" quote just to throw a little contemporary politics in the mix. Subtle. I think the biggest difference between the classic superhero misunderstanding fight and the modern disagreement is the amount of talking they have to do first. I'm trying to think of a single comic where the talking happens first and it isn't boring. There's a comic in Civil War where Tony and Steve end up debating the issues, but they do it mid-fight and it comes across way better.

I guess there is a bit of a superhero misunderstanding because, when Ghost Rider crashes through a wall, Matt blames the heroes and orders them taken, dead or alive. Given everything in this story, it feels like an escallation. The story is trying to portray Matt as fallen - that he's making rational decisions while corrupted into becoming more cruel and violent. I don't think it's working. The fact that HAMMER and Norman Osborn are gone removes the entire justification in the first place. We'll soon find out that there's more to it but this story has no heart and no character development.

Three Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2022 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #509 - Shadowland: Part 2

Quote:
As Daredevil's Shadowland stronghold in Hell's Kitchen grows, more heroes step forward to try to bring The Man Without Fear back to his senses. But any foe of Daredevil knows he is not a man easily stopped. The battle for New York continues!


Due 1/28
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, the thing about big crossover events is that some ongoing titles are temporarily relegated to being tie-ins for the big event. Such was the case for Daredevil #508 to #512.

This issue shows Izo and Elektra stumbling upon the Snakeroot in Japan, and Izo seemingly gives up his life to destroy them, but not before they command White Tiger to destroy anyone from Matt's old life. Luke Cage and Iron Fist save Dakota and Foggy from some Hand ninja (even though Dakota seems impervious to explosions). Typhoid convinces Daredevil to allow her into his team at Shadowland. The issue ends with Dakota and Foggy witnessing the Ghost Rider's explosion from a safe house.

While Roberto de la Torre is a very talented artist, he confused me from the opening page. A Hand ninja in Japan is attacked, and I turn the page and I can't make out how he was wounded, whether Elektra or Izo did it, and with what weapon. There had to be a clearer way to show that.

At the very least, this issue shows, for once, why the Hand were interested in Daredevil leading them. Because, as explained in Elektra: Assassin (or was it Man Without Fear) Matt is a pure adept, and if he can be corrupted, then the Hand should be unstoppable in a way they never were before. Kudos to writer Andy Diggle for finally putting that into the story. It's nine issues too late, but still.

I've already mentioned that car explosion that fails to burn Dakota. That's just sloppy. I think Diggle and de la Torre just abandoned logic there.

The rest of the issue is fine. Cage and Rand have a good scene. Typhoid's scene was cool. But it feels like the issue peters out, because it's just a tie-in. It's not allowed to move the story forward. That's for Shadowland to do.

Still, the supporting characters are well depicted. Foggy refuses to give up on Matt, and that's heartening. Dakota is more realistic. I was kind of hoping to see Becky this issue, but sadly she's absent.

This isn't the best. De la Torre could have done a better job staging some of these scenes, and a lot of this issue is just jogging in place. It's not bad either, so I give this a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue seems to take simultaneously with Shadowland part 2. It's a lot of moving pieces of background information. We got Foggy and Dakota rescued by Luke and Danny. We got Elektra and Izo infiltrating the Hand, finding out something mysterious, and trying to escape. We got Typhoid Mary trying to join Matt and the Hand. It ends with the explosion we saw in the other issue. I do think this issue and the Shadowland issue can be read in either order. More seems to happen in that issue, though. I'd like to say that this one has the necessary character development instead, but I think that's a stretch. This one just has more subplots (and no real main plot). Three and a Half Stars.

Random thoughts:
Did Elektra actually lead the Hand? I thought it was a Skrull.
Typhoid Mary tells Matt to use his supersenses to tell if she's lying. Matt's senses never really could get a fix on her in her Typhoid form so I'm not sure if that's true or not (although she wouldn't have known). The fact that Mary is "cured" in the current Devil's Reign event as well just demonstrates how nothing really changes.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2022 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So this is technically out of release order, but the reading order I was using suggests reading this one ahead of Shadowland Part 3.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #510 - Shadowland Part 3

Quote:
SHADOWLAND TIE-IN! As New York City crumbles under the weight of Matt Murdock's new order, his former friends and allies struggle just to hold their lives and world together. But as the pressure builds, Foggy Nelson will make an alliance no one saw coming, while Black Tarantula takes a stand against Daredevil and learns the consequences of crossing the Man without Fear.


Due 2/5
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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