Thursday, August 5, 2010

2-in-1 Review of Shadowland #2 and Shadowland: Bullseye #1

Marvel's Daredevil-centric Shadowland event has rolled into its second month. Aside from the two main books, Shadowland and Daredevil, August will also see the publication of a whole host of tie-in mini-series and one-shots. The first one to hit the stands is Shadowland: Bullseye, a one-shot chronicling the aftermath of said character's encounter with Daredevil in Shadowland #1. Also out today was Shadowland #2, where Daredevil continues his journey into crazy land while his friends and former allies try to intervene.

For the sake of efficiency, I will take a look at both of these titles in this post. There will be some spoilers, particularly for the Bullseye tie-in so proceed with whatever amount of caution you're comfortable with. Feeling sufficiently warned? Good, then hit the jump to find out which of these titles gets a Buy It verdict and which one doesn't.

Shadowland #2
Written by Andy Diggle
Pencils by Billy Tan
Inks by VIctor Olazaba

Shadowland #2 is in many ways a better issue than last month's first issue. The plot is meatier, there are more characters involved and there is more attention paid to the interactions between them. There is also some notable improvements to the artwork. Billy Tan's work last issue came off as slightly uneven, particularly when it came to the characters' faces, and he puts in a much better effort here.

In this issue, we see Diggle bring additional characters into the mix, notably Moon Knight (who is put to very clever use) , the Kingpin, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Shang-Chi and a certain other slightly more fiery character who makes an interesting entrance. Without giving too much away, I must say that the fact that Andy Diggle actually manages to pull off this character's inclusion in a way that feels relatively organic says a lot. It could have been silly, and maybe it still is, but it feels like a bit of fun-filled action and it does add some fun to what is otherwise mostly doom and gloom.

Diggle is generally good at writing actions scenes, but I also happen to be a fan of his ability to handle a large cast of different characters. He writes excellent dialogue and has a good grasp of each character's respective personality. However, the biggest problem with this event is the main character himself. When Shadowland began, there was a noticeable jump from where we left off at the end of Daredevil #507. It even reminds me of the old Seinfeld episode The Yada Yada, in which George Costanza meets a woman who's in the habit of conveniently glossing over crucial information. I feel that there is a lot of backstory that would explain Matt Murdock's mindset right now, that is simply not being addressed.

As a result, even though Diggle is pretty good at portraying Daredevil as a man for whom these actions actually make sense, it is hard to reconcile the Daredevil we see here with the well-known character. Something tells me that this isn't a clear-cut case of "demonic possession" - at least not in the sense that there would be an easy get out of jail free card for Matt (I prefer to look at it more as something akin to chemical intoxication) - but there needs to be a more satisfying explanation to just what is going on with Matt's head. Right now, a crucial piece of the puzzle is missing

Verdict – Buy It. There are still a lot of questions that need answers for this event to work as well as it could, but Diggle succeeds in making very good use of the characters around Daredevil, and this book is most definitely an enjoyable read.

Shadowland: Bullseye #1
Written by John Layman
Pencils by Sean Chen
Inks by Sandu Florea

I'm generally a glass-half-full kind of person who tries to to see the positive sides of life and the comics in it. However, when it comes to this issue, I'm scrambling to find something nice to say. Well, Sean Chen's art is okay, aside from the fact that Ben Urich - the de facto main character of this book - looks about two decades too young. It's the premise of the the story that keeps this book from going anywhere interesting.

This issue isn't at all what I expected from a look back at the life of one of the most popular villains in the Marvel Universe. And yes, he most certainly is dead - at least for now. I can't really say what my expectations were, but I was very surprised to see this story so similar to something one might expect from a Frontline tie-in. We have Ben Urich reporting throughout the issue and filling the role of narrator as he's kidnapped and forced to play along with a funeral staged by a motorcycle gang. That's right, some random goons, whom we've never seen before, take offense to the fact that Bullseye - their own personal hero - won't be getting a nice funeral paid for by the city.

At his side, Ben has another new character who sees dead people, which is how Bullseye himself is inserted into the plot. This feels more weird than inspired and gets even weirder towards the end of the issue.

Where this story really goes south for me, however, is when Daredevil arrives on the scene. Apparently, Ben had the feeling that Daredevil and his gang might be snooping around the morgue (where the motorcycle gang make a stop to steal Bullseye's body...) and drops a notebook full of clues for Daredevil to find so that the Ben and the other innocents at the staged funeral can be rescued.

Not only does this feel very far-fetched (there is no real reason for Daredevil to snoop around the morgue) but where the heck is the funeral supposed to take place? A violent motorcycle gang would be facing a swarm of ninjas within minutes so it can't be set inside Shadowland. But if it isn't, then how can Daredevil leave Hell's Kitchen undetected by the authorities? And where is the morgue exactly?

To make matters worse, Daredevil and White Tiger don't quite feel like the same characters as in the main book, and the dialogue feels forced throughout. This is a silly, silly book and it wasn't worth the price of admission.

Verdict – Avoid It. This issue adds nothing to the larger Shadowland plot, and sadly tells us very little about Bullseye. To add insult to injury, the plot feels nonsensical and contains some glaring holes that makes it feel disconnected from the main event.

Related Posts


The Dangster said...

Loved Shadowland 2, didn't think that character would show up early as he did.

I loved Spider-man's comment on the costume change. though, I am a fan of it.

Anonymous said...

Did we already have a Daredevil intervention back during Bendis' run?

Aaron K said...

@Christine - Looks like you got over that momentary discomfort with your (well-deserved) bashing of SL: Bullseye.

Did anything in this one-shot make sense? Why would heroes regularly patrol the morgue, even if lots of bodies were coming in? If the morgue is in Hell's Kitchen, how are these heroes avoiding the omnipresent Hand ninjas' eyes? If it's not in Hell's Kitchen, how are the bodies getting out? Did the Hand really just leave Bullseye's body where the authorities could take it to the morgue? Why are so many people dying when Daredevil has given rather explicit "no killing" orders in the past? Why does Daredevil care if a funeral is held for Bullseye? Why didn't Ben Urich just write ANYTHING in his second notebook? How does the general public know that Bullseye was masquerading as the Avenger Hawkeye? If the general public did know, wouldn't they have made a big deal of the fact that an escaped serial-killer on the lam was one of Osborn's Avengers?

And, most importantly, why do all members of the "Hell Riders" dress like they're trying out for the biker role in the Village People?

jack said...

the kingpin doing a ritual to summon a ghost rider. ughhhh.... that was just awful and came out of nowhere . daredevil sounded like a generic villain and the whole brainwashed thing cheapens the character and the story. instead of actually going through with the hero -villain story they did the brainwashed story . god I wish bendis was back on.

Anonymous said...

sigh was really hoping they would actually go through with it..

The Uranian said...

I mostly agree with your reviews (as usual), and you've adequately summed up most of my feelings towards Shadowland #2, but as a whole, I'm still a bit divided on the Arc.

Let's put demonic possession aside for a moment (and I do think that is what's going on), I can totally see Matt going off the deep end and seeing murder and control as the only viable solutions for lasting peace. But in order for us, longtime readers and fans of the character, to accept that, we kinda needed some build-up. We really haven't had any build-up, when Matt decided to lead the Hand, he did not show any intent on making it his personal army, only destroy it from the inside. The 180 switch happen so quickly is what I think if confusing us. Or me.

Radlum said...

DD getting an intervention was fairly predictable, I just hope this is the last one we get since we all know how they go. Despite that, I agree that Diggle handled the characters in a good way; to be honest, I loved how he developed Moon Knight's role in the story. Sadly, I was really liking this issue until I realized that the Kingpin summoned Ghost Rider; I don't mind seeing him as part of the event, but I just can't connect him to the Hand and japanese summoning rituals, until he is better connected to the plot, this is going to be the point where Diggle started to dissapoint me.

krakkaboom said...

I wish they would have just used the Shadowland premise as a story arc. Executing it as an event is forcing it to live up to certain event standards, ie: a character death(s), new direction, etc. My Shadowland optimism is rapidly waning. This may just turn out to be Daredevil's "One More Day". I really hope I'm wrong.

Christine Hanefalk said...

@Aaron K: With your support, dude. ;)

@jack Well, the "brain-washed" situation, for me, doesn't excuse anything. I think of it more as being under the influence of something where you still have some element of control. I don't think this is that kind of demonic possession where there's nobody home. As has been made clear previously, Matt has to allow this to happen.

I think this story is a tricky path for any writer to take. On the one hand, you don't want a situation where "the demon made me do it." On the other hand, how bad can a benign character like Matt Murdock become before that cheapens the character? Going full-blown villain isn't something Matt Murdock would normally do.

We'll see how this develops. So far, it's hard to determine how much in control Matt is of the situation and his actions, but he is not without personal blame as far as I'm concerned and very much appears to still be present in his own head. For readers who want this to be 100% him, I can totally see why you'd have a problem with the storyline

jack said...

well the villain route would be the most natural I mean he has got the villain back story and he would be most intresting . and your view onthe the brainwashed thing ....good points but it is still the the same old story we have seen all the time. and please explain the kingpin thing it seemed out of character and just bad isnt he supposed to be street level....I miss bendis

Anonymous said...

This is just bad storytelling, I am really dissapointed of how the story is developing. The funny thing is that if this would have been published by DC all the fandom would be like: "cry for justice/rise of arsenal" is crap. But as this is marvel then, demonic possessions and characters acting out of themselves is really reasoning and logic...


Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous11/Diana - The difference between Shadowland and Cry For Justice/Rise of Arsenal is that, whether you like or dislike Shadowland's storyline, it just isn't nearly as offensive as the two DC stories in question, which feature Hal Jordan bragging about threesomes with random female super heroes, gruesome deaths, character assassination, impotence and beating people to death with dead cats.

If you read solicits, the October Marvel ones reveal spoilers on the main cause of Daredevil's acting out. It's not a great explanation and we don't know full details, but it at least explains a bit of it. And, personally, It hink the main Shadowland title is trying too hard to be an event book. The main Daredevil title has been excellent at showing Matt's journey down this path both in build up towards and aftermath of Shadowland #1.

Your mileage may vary on whether you enjoy it, but I don't think the CfJ/RoA comparison ist he same. People railed against those titles for different reasons than the things happening in Shadowland. Ultimatum is a good example of a Marvel book that is similar to those stories.

Anonymous said...

can someone explain the ghost rider part

Anonymous said...

@Kirk: I think you made a good point and also that I overreacted a bit =)

My point was that some stories by marvel that are clearly crap (Red Hulk, Ultimates, OMD I am looking at you) they do not get all the fancry that a single story from DC as CFJ received... that's just my toughts.

Good reviews I really like your site.


Anonymous said...

again the ghost rider came out of nowhere did I miss something

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Man, just read these two issues and Christine nails it all on the head.

The Bullseye one-shot had no effect, no meaning, and sadly no real hook. Bullseye really doesn't play a part and those who do I don't care about. I'm all in for Shadowland no matter what but if I had known to avoid this one I would have, but I had such faith. A shame.

As for the Shadowland issue, I think i really enjoyed it. Moon Knight is actually damn awesome in this and should make for a killer character arc in this event, I am very impressed by how he's worked in. The Cage and Rand scenes just aren't capturing me, sadly, but I can see Spidey dropping in. As for Ghost Rider - why the hell would an ancient Japanese summoning ritual bring him forth? It makes no sense, to me at least. It's pretty lame and he doesn't really need to be there. As for the DD writing, DD seems off and there's obviously an explanation, I haven't read the solicit, so I haven't spoiled myself, but it just doesn't work for me. I'll hold out hope for the xplanation down the track.

But, overall, this issue is pretty strong. Everything is being aligned and I dig that. I just hope Moon Knight brings it home like he looks like he will.

Christine Hanefalk said...

Regarding Ghost Rider, I was pretty peeved when I first learned he would even be a part of this event since I find the basic premise of the character to be so thoroughly ridiculous. Sorry all you Ghost Rider fans out there, but the whole concept seems silly to me. Having said that, I can see why Marvel would want to incorporate him into this event to fill up the roster, and I do think his introduction here is quite amusing.

Regarding the Kingpin summoning him, I actually suspect that this was not the warrior that the incantation was supposed to bring forth. I think that's why it makes no sense. It's quirky in a way that feels deliberate to me. The "call to the other side" may have (however those work) may have been intercepted by Ghost Rider or something else may have gone wrong. We'll probably find out down the line.

Anonymous said...

christine how do you feel about diggles run so far ? as good as bendis ed? think he went overboard with the ninjas?

Nathan Aaron said...

We tend to always disagree with artist/art styles. But I thought issue #2 of Shadowland had less successful artwork than the first issue. Different inkers, and it's the inkers causing the problems here. When Billy was doing New Avengers it was beautiful! But I haven't been impressed with this work on Shadowland at all (so far.)

John Romita, Jr. is having the same problem over on Avengers. He is an art God, but for some insane reason he loves being inked by Klaus Janson right now, and it's killing, killing, killing his pencils.

Post a Comment

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Crisis - Comic Book Review Blog. Comments are always appreciated. You can sign in and comment with any Google, Wordpress, Live Journal, AIM, OpenID or TypePad account.