Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hype Machine - Shadowland

Shadowland is the Daredevil centred mini-event and it kicks off in July and will dominate the Marvel landscape for a few months. It’s going to be a very big storyline for Daredevil so let’s have a look here to see how Shadowland is shaping up and get everything you need to know but didn’t know you needed to ask.

Brubaker’s Cliffhanger

Daredevil has now been given a tradition where each scribe hands the character off to the next writer with as intense and deep a situation as they can muster. It’s not the longest tradition, it’s only been executed specifically two times, but man they were two good drops for our man Matt Murdock. Brian Michael Bendis handed Ed Brubaker a Matt Murdock whose secret identity was public knowledge and who was now in jail. Brubaker made this work exceptionally well as he worked out what happened in that prison and then went about crafting his own tale over the next 39 issues.

When it came time for Brubaker to depart, he decided to give the next man up to bat a bit of a show stopper too. Andy Diggle became the writer of a Daredevil who was the new leader of the Japanese clan of ninja assassins, The Hand. It was a big turn for the character, his motivations, his actions, and his status quo. He takes on the mantle because he knows if he doesn’t then the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk, will. An army of ninjas are safer in his own hands than those of his worst enemy, or so he figures. This also means that Murdock is no longer practicing law, and that he’s left behind some of his closest friends in the world, Foggy Nelson, Dakota North, Becky Blake. This is where Diggle picked up the character and he is running with it completely.

Diggle’s Dark Reality

The first arc from Diggle, and artist Roberto De La Torre, was indeed a dark affair. It stemmed out of the repercussions of Dark Reign and Bullseye being sent by Norman Osborn to kill DD. Bullseye is not successful but he does take out a building in Hell’s Kitchen full of innocent lives. This traumatic experience clearly affects DD, as it should because in a large way he is technically responsible for the loss of that life. Bullseye couldn’t kill his nemesis, but he strikes him in the other place Murdock can always bleed, his Catholic guilt. It’s an event that alters and changes how DD forges ahead into the future.

Murdock is now Lord Daredevil of the Hand but we can’t tell if he’s wielding the Hand or being used by it. The Hand are out in his city ritually killing crooked judges and cops and then DD attacks his former friend, Master Izo. Apparently the Hand demand a sacrifice to prove their new leader and they are given it. Of course, it is all subterfuge, DD hasn’t actually turned to killing. Despite what the movie may have blunderously shown you, death is a line DD is never really ready to cross. DD hasn’t changed, completely, but even he doesn’t seem aware of what is going to come next.

White Tiger and Black Tarantula are with him for the ride and even they seem suspicious of his work. Life has become more brutal, people are dying, DD declares Hell’s Kitchen under the protection of the Hand and that criminals will be dealt with ruthlessly. Daredevil then leaves a crime scene completely relieved of all the crooked cops who were there doing their crooked dealings. We were left hanging for a little while, wondering if DD had indeed ordered their deaths. It was a locked box mystery and a well executed one.

We soon learnt the fate of the prisoners, and it wasn’t pretty. They were being kept in cages in the sewer waters down with the Hand’s underground hideout. They barely had their heads above water and starvation rations applied. This is clearly a different sort of Daredevil we are dealing with. His environment has changed and it appears so has he. He talks of a coming structure that is to be built, something that will hold the prisoners and make the Hand unassailable. This structure is, of course, Shadowland.

Black Tarantula has been left behind to observe the building of Shadowland while Murdock flies to Japan, with White Tiger, to talk with all the leaders of the factions of the Hand. He plans to unite them all and make a stronger hand. This arc is being co-written with Antony Johnston and is just about to wrap up. It then appears that upon DD’s return the Shadowland event will begin.

Shadowland

The mini-event centred of Daredevil and his new story will be written by Andy Diggle, drawn by Billy Tan, and run for 5 issues starting in July. It began with teaser promotional images, based on previous iconic Daredevil covers. The new interpretations showed various other Marvel heroes interacting in the event in varied ways. Whether these moments will reflect actual story elements will have to wait, but we can see they certainly make fantastic images to show how other characters will be involved in this story.

The opening solicit promises to show a battle for the soul of Hell’s Kitchen, and for Daredevil’s own soul as well. A slew of street level characters are taking roles in the event with discussion and Billy Tan’s gorgeous poster offering up Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, the Punisher, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Bullseye, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. It’s going to be a large cast and there is no guarantee of who is supporting DD and who will oppose.

Diggle's short run so far on Daredevil has certainly been exciting and he's been taking the character to new places. Bendis took over and outed Murdock to the press, and Brubaker killed Foggy Nelson. The lead up to Shadowland has been frenetic, and the latest arc, Left Hand Path has certainly been enjoyable and set up some new characters to the community of the Hand.

During this time, Daredevil, as co-written by Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston, and drawn by Roberto De La Torre, will continue. I’d heard this will slow to a bi-monthly schedule as it ties into the main event but am unable to find conformation on that count, so I could be wrong. The main title will also focus on the fallout of Shadowland and how it affects people like Foggy Nelson and Dakota North. I will be happy to see Dakota North take more of the spotlight back as I think she's been an excellent addition to the DD cast. To get the complete story I am assuming that buying both Shadowland and Daredevil will be musts for me.

For my money, I'm all over both of these titles. Daredevil is already a given and an event around him has me hyped, but especially because of the calibre of characters he will be surrounded by. I like me some street level goodness and this isn't your usual event. My hopes are high, but not ridiculous.

Tie-Ins

Daredevil: Cage Match

Before the event kicks off, we get Antony Johnston and Sean Chen on Daredevil: Cage Match, which will show us a previous moment in the history between Daredevil and Luke Cage back when Cage was a tiara sporting Power Man rolling the streets and looking to fight crime for cash. The two are out fixing the streets when an argument leads them to agree to a boxing match, the loser donates a thousand dollars to their pick of charity. It seems like a fun little interlude of old school team up gone awry, and I can’t help but think of Superman fighting Muhammad Ali or racing the Flash as the sort of tone for this one-shot. It also sets up a snapshot of the way things between the two powerhouses used to be, and how they will change during the furore of Shadowland.

Iliked  this one-shot, it’s a great little idea, it was only $2.99 and it was complete fun. Every now and then you just have to pick up a comic because it looks fun and this will most assuredly be that. It got my attention and it filled a month where Daredevil didn't ship so it's kind of a nice little story that Marvel didn't need to give us but they did anyway. It might not mean the most overall to this storyline but it's cool; it's always cool to see heroes fight each other.

Shadowland: Blood On The Streets

There will be some connected tie-in titles to the event, such as Shadowland: Blood On The Streets, written by Antony Johnston and drawn by Wellington Alves which will kick off in August. This 4 issue mini-series will look at how the events of Shadowland impact on four mercenary characters in Misty Knight, Paladin, Silver Sable, and the Shroud. These four characters independently enter the scene as Hand soldiers are executing C- and D-list mobsters around town. Daredevil himself might be mostly absent from the series, but his presence is certainly known and the entire story revolves around what is happening with him. This won’t be absolutely necessary to read to keep up with the storyline, it is self-contained, but it certainly looks to be fun. It’s pitched as a book for those who are sick of seeing the usual Avengers get their spin-offs, so Johnston hopes fans will vote with their wallet for more of these great corner pocket characters of the Marvel U.

This mini does sound interesting, and I love to support the smaller characters but I am honestly not sure that I’m feeling this one completely. I trust Johnston as a writer and I’m keen to see how it ties into Shadowland but considering it’s 4 issues and will get the usual Marvel price gouge I might have to sit this one out.

Shadowland: Power Man

Fred Van Lente will also be opening up a 4 issue mini-series titled, Shadowland: Power Man. This story will deal with a student of Danny Rand’s martial arts academy who decides to don a suit, and repurpose Luke Cage’s old name, to become a hero for the streets. This is a dangerous proposition as the Hand have declared there shall be no superheroics in Hell’s Kitchen under their watch. The book will deal with a few old villains from the Power Man and Iron Fist title and looks to be a lot of fun. It’s, again, not crucial to read to understand the whole event, but it looks to be a different take on the story and a slice of interesting fun which Van Lente hopes will see the character maybe make it to the big time and stick around after his 4 issues are up.

The thought of Van Lente related to my DD intake should make me instantly lust and buy on sight but I have to admit to having reservations about this title, too. It’s a risk diving in for this new character, but Van Lente is good at making me care about the unknown corners of the Marvel U. I will wait and see more information closer to August before I make up my mind on this one.The preview pages might be good and perhaps that will get me across the line.

Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow

Jason Henderson looks set to bring the kung fu exploitation back to the streets in Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow, with artist Ivan Rodriguez, in a 3 issue mini-series. We'll follow Colleen Wing, an old pal of Iron Fist's and partner of Misty Knight, as she discovers that she has inherited leadership of an all-female assassin squad within the Hand, entitled the Nail. Colleen's pretty handy with a weapon herself, so this isn't a fish out of water tale. She should be able to hold her own with these girls, though she'll have to be constantly trying to ensure she does. It's a great little idea and with some of the other hit girls having additional armed limbs and killing from beneath hard white masks this series looks set to bring back the fu in a very interesting manner. The story will run concurrently with Shadowland but doesn't seem like it will absolutely be necessary reading material, even though it will surely prove to be some very cool material.
Strangely enough, with a creative team I’ve barely heard of, and a character who is C-list on her best days, I am pretty keen for this mini. It’s only 3 issues, so not too much to commit to, and it’s a brutal little grindhouse concept that I hope can be executed just right. Parts of insanity mixed in with parts of brilliance and shaken with just enough daring to provide us all with something new. Who doesn’t want to read about an all-female ninja assassination squad? Colour me sold because this is the reason tie-ins were invented, to give this sort of stuff a platform.

Shadowland: Moon Knight

It's been a tough little while of late for Moon Knight but he's struggling to be a better hero nonetheless. He's killed off one of his personalities and the one in charge now has a new way of dealing with scum. Some would see this as the right way, except for Daredevil and the Hand who seem to want to use Moon Knight as his old brutal self again. A harsh man can exact more extreme measure in Hell's Kitchen these days. Gregg Hurwitz brings together this 3 issue tale of hard heroes and harder bad men to show his title character in a new light and that it is only dark everywhere else that he goes, and he'll have Bong Dazo joining him with pages of art. It's an interesting spin by playing Daredevil as the villain of the piece. While this tie-in plays out the regular Moon Knight title will go on hiatus and upon return will be heavily impacted by this storyline.

This title sounds interesting and I can imagine Moon Knight fans should definitely pick it up. It'll give us a flip side to Daredevil which is always cool to see, and it only sets us back 3 issues. I'm not certain that I'll pick this one up purely for budgetary reasons but I get a feeling this one is going to be pretty good.

Shadowland: Spider-Man

This one shot from Dan Slott and Paolo Siqueira looks promising as Spidey tackles Mister Negative with the aid of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. It looks to be quite cool as Slott has a very handy grasp of how to write Spidey well, and he shows how good of a thing it is that DD no longer knows the true identity of Spider-Man, which has been a bit of a dangling plot thread/hole for some time now since OMD because one Matt Murdock's oldest friends used to be Peter Parker but the connection is no longer there. Alongside this we have two of the Marvel U's biggest Taoists going head to head in what seems to be shaping up as an action packed one-shot to the Shadowland story.

This story certainly seems tangential, at best, but the chance to enjoy Slott's take on this who debacle might be too much to turn aside. This title airs in October, so we'll see how the budget goes then.

And please note: there has been no cover released for the Spidey one-shot, so this image,  though pretty, is not what will appear on the shelves.

Shadowland: Ghost Rider

Another one shot, this time about our favourite flame head. Written by Rob Williams and drawn by Clayton Crain, this story seems to pit Ghost Rider against the whole machinations of Shadowland as he realises that he is being played, and after years of being played by so many others he does not want to be controlled ever again. Williams has known Diggle and Johnston for years in the UK comics scene and he says he's been given a nice little slice of the story that probably could have been kept in the Daredevil title but he was lucky enough to steal it away. This means that this issue should be relatively important to the whole storyline.

I don't mind Ghost Rider but I'm not absolutely sold on the necessity of this one shot. Much like Spidey I will probably wait and see, though I might be slightly more inclined to support this one over Spidey because he gets enough love as it is anyway. If there's an important story beat in here I'm either going to really dig that or be completely annoyed at missing out on it. However, if these one-shots are filling in for DD-less months, like Johnston's Cage Match has then I might be well more inclined to jump on.

Shadowland: Bullseye

It wouldn't be a Daredevil event without his greatest enemy.  Kingpin be damned, that's chess, Bullseye is always Ultimate Fighting. This one-shot pits Bullseye, fresh out of his Dark Reign role of Hawkeye, as a man returning to his roots. He's back to mess up Daredevil's cabbage patch and you know he'll do whatever it takes. John Layman is hot off the heels of Chew and ready to bring some insanity to Hell's Kitchen and he's got Sean Chen making another addition to this big storyline. Layman says there'll be a very big moment for Bullseye in Shadowland and Daredevil proper and this one-shot will spin out of that. Apparently we'll know what that moment is as soon as we see it.

This one is a lock for me. I dig Bullseye and it's not like he'll ever get his own series so this will be as good as it gets. He's an interesting character but when pitted against DD you really get to understand how messed up he is. I wonder if his moment in this event will be him killing another Murdock lady. I'd absolutely hate to see Dakota North cop it, but Milla Donovan is just sitting around, unprotected, and asking for it. Though that might be cliche tell me it isn't something Bullseye would do. IThe image to the left isn't a cover for the one-shot, it's just one of the excellent teasers. Though a little snikt in that bullseye would go a long way.

Shadowland: Elektra

It's a massive story about the Hand, there was no way that former Hand leader and Daredevil/Murdock love, Elektra, was going to sit this one out. Zeb Wells brings us this one-shot, which is a good thing because he absolutely knocked the Dark Reign: Elektra mini out of the park. Emma Rios will be joining him with some excellent art. The story will be the set up of Elektra's appearance in Shadowland. She'll make an interesting mix being a former leader of the Hand but also because she's a tough as nails chick who won't judge Daredevil for going too far; she barely even knows what too far is, or where it might reside. She'll side with Daredevil and Wells hints that she's stab someone with a sai, maybe even two people at once. That's good news.

Another one-shot that's a lock for me. Elektra is a great character and Zeb Wells really nails her on the page. This event seems like the perfect thing to bring Murdock and Natchios back together, so it won't be too long between legs for our lawyer/ninja stud. It's nice to see some actual Daredevil rogues get their one-shots, what a shame this, and Bullseye, couldn't have been minis.

Thunderbolts

Luke Cage has been given control of the government sanctioned team of villains and so he'll be introducing them into the Shadowland landscape to add a wider element to this massive story. Luke Cage being involved is a true and obvious direction to take the storyline in; he should definitely be there so why not bring his crew of hard hitters with him? I worry that Thunderbolts fans will be annoyed at having follow the Shadowland story that they hadn't signed up for by buying this title, and Daredevil/Shadowland fans might not want to have to delve into a handful of issues of some other pseudo-related title. Overall, I hear plenty of great buzz about Jeff Parker's run on Thunderbolts and introducing Man-Thing to Shadowland could be absolute genius. I'll wait and see.

I just hope that Marvel aren’t over-committing themselves by building these tie-ins to the main event, and having these minis focus on characters who are all well down the list. If done right this could be a revelation, but if not…well, best not to think about it really and keep the good vibes flowing. And looking at those collected covers I am digging the use of DD as the background.

In saying that, I have never followed an event before, usually only get the odd one in trade, so doing this whole event mapping and tracking is very new to me. I've heard plenty of moaning and whining about it before so I'm interested to see how I handle it. I know there will be Shadowland titles that I will not buy, that's almost certain sadly because of my budget, and so I will have to carefully pick and choose what I invest in.

Things May Never Be The Same

You know those hyperbolic Marvel press releases enough now to get the hang of it. The future of Daredevil begins now. Nothing will ever be the same, something will happen in the first issue that will hang with Daredevil, and Matt Murdock, for the rest of his life. It's all pretty big talk but can they ever match it with the story they tell.  Sometimes, maybe, but you'll never know until you hold the issue in your hot little hands. Before then all we get is talk, and I want to talk about one thing; will Daredevil get a new costume? The last time he changed duds was in the 90's and nobody liked that armoured costume (No one, you hear me!) but they seem to be hinting that DD might finally step a few things up in Shadowland and his look could very well be one of those things.


Conclusion

Daredevil versus the Marvel Universe, or at least its seedy underbelly. Now with more ninjas!

The Shadowland line, as you can begin to see it, is going to take over in July and run until the end of the year. It promises to be an exciting and engaging storyline that will surely take Matt Murdock to more new and dangerous levels in his already crazy life. Perhaps not every related title needs to be purchased to get the full effect, and if Marvel manage to charge $3.99 for every title then I’m sure many will be scared away, but there is no doubting that Daredevil will never be the same once Shadowland is complete.

I am absolutely in for this storyline. I am digging what Diggle is doing on Daredevil. I am appreciative that they are trying an event story with my favourite character. I am not going to complain about the glut of tie-ins that I know I don't need to buy but may sample as I see fit. I am going to kick back and relax and just enjoy the show. What are you going to do while Shadowland rages on the peripherals of the Marvel U?


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8 comments:

The Rook said...

I gave up on Daredevil ages ago -- it had gotten so dark that it was just silly. I miss the days when Matt Murdock was an actual superhero and occasionally had good stuff happen to him, without the specter of his girlfriends being killed/driven insane/revealed to be a nutcase looming over everything. I LOVED Frank Miller's run(s) on DD but ever since, the book has gotten progressively darker. It's hard to even remember the days when DD hung out in San Francisco fighting the Owl.

nf said...

I don't think the term "mini-event" should be applied to something that has dozens and dozens of books coming out in the next few months of solicits.

twobitspecialist said...

I do sometimes wonder if Marvel honestly expects us to buy every single thing related to an event. When I looked through the comic book racks at my local comic shop, I saw an endless row of Siege tie-ins. Forget that! And while I expect Shadowland to be way better than Siege, I am actually turned off because of all tie-ins. I'll just wait for the trades.

By the way, I hope Shadowland doesn't affect the quality of Thunderbolts the same way it was affected during that Deadpool-crossover (it got in the way of introducing the new roster at the time, and Thunderbolts is just now introducing another new roster).

Glenn said...

I've always loved Daredevil and while I usually save my event dollars for DC books, I'm all in with this one, including the Power Man book. New characters get a hard line given how nostalgia driven the comics market is and Van Lente delivers (see Amadeus Cho for proof). Unlike The Rook, I've enjoyed the dark tone of the Daredevil books. Matt is a good man despite the fact that his life has been filled with poverty, loss, and pain. He is in constant struggle to use his rage for good and is one of the more human characters in the Marvel Universe in that he doesn't always make the right decision. Seeing this character pick up the pieces after the messed up things that people say would actually happen to a superhero happen has been riveting. I'm usually the first guy to pick Jedi over Sith and Paragon over Renegade, but seeing Matt become the tyrant that he thinks Hell's Kitchen needs is going to have me rooting for the dark side.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@The Rook - yeah, DD generally seems to be in a pit of despair, though looking at the Bendis and Brubaker runs, sure, it was bleak, but it was mostly just him fighting people, he's just dropped the schtick from his act. Which I think is a good thing because Spidey already does that and when DD launched he was quite honestly a massive Spidey clone...with obvious differences.

@nf - I use that term more because it doesn't encompass the core Marvel U, this isn't directly affecting the major titles, those being Avengers and X titles.

@twobitspecialist - I don't think Marvel expects us to buy everything, absolutely not, they just offer it for those who want it, and it's not too bad a business model because I know I'm interested in DD, Shadowland, Daughters mini, Elektra and Bullseye one-shots and that's it. I won't be purchasing any others, I don't think. The others don't appeal to me so I can happily leave them on the shelves. It doesn't bug me, so they obviously hope the same for other events. I bought one Siege tie-in, the Secret Warriors one, and if there were plenty of buyers who just bought the one they were interested in then Marvel would sell just fine. It has to be a rare beast that buys everything with the event label on it, and those people only have themselves and their completionism to blame.

Oh, and the SW Siege tie in was absolute balls.

twobitspecialist said...

That's just it, I guess. I know I'm a stinking completionist, which is why I never got into comic books until recently. I always feel compelled to get the whole collection of something for bragging right's sake, so if I know I can't get everything, I'll avoid it.

I think for now I'll just stick with the reviews like I've been doing thus far.

Ivan said...

May I be forgiven for liking Daredevil's 90's armor? I was 10 at the time.

Anonymous said...

I Liked The 90's Armored Look and I'm Not Afraid To Say It. It Made Sense That He Needed To Upgrade Rather Then Wear Spandex Fabric. To Me, This Is The Same Type Of Complaint That People Resort To When Change Happens. Just Look At All The Recent Negitive Feedback Regarding Green Latern's Look On EW!
This Is Why I Stopped Reading Comics Because People Over Due It On Complaints and Then The Conpany Trips Itself Up, Trying To Plaese The Fan Base. And Look At What Happen: I Can't Remember Anything Good From The Daredevil Runs Until Bendis Took Over.
We All Knew Its A Gimmick To Hypw Up The Costume Change And That DD Would Eventually Return To His Traditional Red Outfit But Give Me A Break! Or More Like Get Over It!! Its Been Nearly 20Yrs And Still You Need To Take A Shot At That Armored Suit?!

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