Saturday, December 4, 2010

Interruption: Shadowland

I know I left off the last blog with a "To Be Continued" regarding Chris Claremont, but after reading the last two parts of Shadowland (Shadowland #5 and Darevdevil #512), I felt the need to vent a little.


This was the culmination of the last decade's worth of Daredevil storylines? Really? This???  Matt Murdock running away from his responsibilities (yet somehow accepting blame) and Black Panther getting shoe-horned into the "Protector of Hell's Kitchen" role?

I started reading DD after the Kevin Smith arc ended when Bendis took on writing duties, and from the get-go I was amazed at the depth given to the Matt Murdock character.  This was not a Daredevil story written by Bendis, it was a Matt Murdock story detailing his slow mental decline.  This was watching a man have a breakdown in slow motion and be completely unaware that it's happening to him.  Inheriting the death of Karen Page was the best thing for Bendis because that moment is what opened the gates to really look into Murdock's soul.

I read every issue with great anticipation throughout Bendis' run and when the reins were passed over to Ed Brubaker I remained hooked due to the strong characterization of, not only Matt, but his entire supporting cast.  When Brubaker's run came to a close I was sad in large part because I knew next to nothing about Diggle, but I held out hope that Marvel would not pass the reins of one of their best titles to someone who didn't know what they were doing.

And when Diggle started with The List issue I was pleasently surprised.  The premise of Murdock attempting to turn The Hand into a force for good was intriguing, and as the story continued on I was quite happy with how things were progressing.  Then Diggle sent Matt off to Japan and the train jumped off the tracks. 

The concept of time became completely murky and, especially between DD #507 & Shadowland #1, it felt like I missed an issue or two.  I mean there was a moment right before Murdock & White Tiger left for Japan where they expressly stated to Black Tarantula it would take 3 months to build Shadowland. 3 months happened in the course of something like 3 issues and in those 3 issues, DD was possessed by "The Beast", Shadowland was started and finished, an insanely massive army of Hand ninjas were transported into the United States, and DD managed to seal off a large portion of the city from outside contact.  I know it's a comic book but damn, it felt like Diggle just decided a large chunk of the story didn't need telling.

And despite all that, I could have forgiven the set-up for the story if Diggle/Marvel hadn't taken the easiest out possible and just had DD possessed by Snakeroot.  There's nothing powerful to that, it's just the same old crap used to excuse any hero becoming a villain, however lengthy.  The power would have been in Shadowland being the culmination of Matt's complete mental breakdown since Karen died.  If Matt would have made the choice to do all of this, then you have a story with some meat to it.  Instead all of the potential was sucked away as soon as it became apparent Matt was not in control.  And to cap it off with Matt taking total responsibilty for killing Bullseye AND STILL RUNNING AWAY, that was just....bullshit.  Totally the opposite of what I would have expected from Matt Murdock, a lawyer mind you, to run away from justice.  I know he's always treaded a fine line there, but redemption doesn't come in fleeing your responsibilities.  It comes from owning up to it. 

It's just incredibly frustrating as a fan to read a story that you have so much hope for, and be so entirely disappointed in every aspect of it.  There really wasn't one moment of Shadowland that made the last five months worthwhile.  Oh wait, sorry, the murder of Bullseye would have been worthwhile IF MARVEL HADN'T SPOILED IN MONTHS IN ADVANCE! 

The handling of pretty much every character was atrocious, when the hell did Ghost Rider suddenly become the great enemy of The Hand?  GR has been fighting them for decades so it comes off as asinine to suddenly incorporate this idead into his lore.  Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Typhoid Mary, Elektra...Elektra may have been the only character well handled in the end.  Oh, and despite the fact that everyone sees Murdock's dead body in Shadowland 5 and realize Elektra takes it, they all just figure he'll be back soon.  Murdock commits suicide, more or less, and somehow the writing of the two books found a way to make that seem completely unimportant. 

BLARGH!!! That's the only word that suits my feelings right now....

Still, I'm a sucker, and I'm willing to give Reborn a chance.  Give me a reason to care about Matt Murdock again Mr. Diggle, because Shadowland certainly tried its hardest to ruin him.


  1. It wouldn't have improved Shadowland in and of itself, but it gave me an interesting idea... it would have improved the ending of all of this crap (and REALLY been the culmination of the last 10 years of DD comics) if all of this caused Matt to walk into a police station, admit to being DD and turn himself in.

  2. I didn't hate the Shadowland stuff as much as you did, it does certainly feel like since Frank Miller, almost everyone has to tell their "Matt hits rock bottom, leaves & rebuilds himself" story. I'm sticking with Reborn unless next week's "Shadowland After the Fall" is complete garbage.
    For a bit of different take on DD, check out Karl Kesel's run from the late 90's. Issues 353-364. A bit more light than usual DD fare but some awesome story telling and early Cary Nord art to boot!

  3. Ryan, I would have found that a perfect capper to the last ten years. At least, Matt would've been owning up to his epic failure with The Hand if nothing else.

    Mushroom, I will have to check out Kesel's run...really I just typed that...but I certainly don't see any Frank Miller in Andy Diggle aside from the "Matt his rock bottom" but I think that's more something that was started by Bendis and has carried out until now. Until this sad, crappy ending for known as Shadowland.