Shadowland – not the big Daredevil event Marvel wants you to believe it is…
By Andy Diggle and Billy Tan
Shadowland comes from the mind of British writer Andy Diggle. It’s Marvel’s big Daredevil centric storyline based around his war against other ‘street-level’ heroes in New York City as they decide his rule of the city as the new leader of The Hand has gone too far. Running through a five issue mini-series as well as four issues of Daredevil on top of a flurry of one shots this is supposed to change Daredevil’s world for years to come.
(A few of the runners and riders destined to cross Daredevil’s path in Shadowland)
Personally I think that Andy Diggle’s run on Daredevil has been a checkered one. Running both hot and cold it’s felt as if without the help of Anthony Johnson the Daredevil franchise would’ve had its first dud run since Kevin Smith’s Guardian Devil in 1998. One has to wonder why this is a mini-series instead of an arc within the Daredevil books. I suspect it’s because Diggle was concentrating so much on this one arc that the build up to it fell by the wayside, which is why another writer had to come on to help him out.
Diggle has an obvious knack for writing the more grounded Marvel characters – Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and so on. It’s a style he’s used previously on his works including The Losers, Hellblazer and Gamekeeper from Virgin. All of which were absolutely fantastic books but he just seems to stumble a little writing for the bigger characters of the Marvel Universe and the cameo appearances from the likes of Thor, Iron Man and Captain America just fails to bring anything new to these classic superheroes. It just feels like these characters are there just so that Diggle can say he’s written the big three.
In no way is the writing bad it’s just in the middle of the issue it feels very flat and unoriginal. The idea itself is a very good one and when the issue finally gets into the swing of things properly it certainly reads as a very interesting Daredevil story.
(Luke Cage and Iron Fist fall foul of Daredevil’s new rules in Shadowland)
Billy Tan has penciling duties on the Shadowland mini-series and what he brings us in this introductory issue is certainly some of his top stuff. If Diggle’s fairly bland writing of the bigger characters in this book is down to an unfamiliarity, the same can’t be said of Tan, who’s work here looks great. The colouring for the most part is fantastic and the very dark palette suits the tone of the book well. The one poor thing I will point out is the costume change that Daredevil has been given. There’s really no need for it in the first place and the fact that it isn’t a very good change doesn’t do the book anymore favors.
(That new costume, as dark and grim Daredevil prepares to take on Bullseye, with his Hand assassins providing cannon-fodder back-up.)
This introductory issue of Shadowland tells us that this ‘event’ isn’t going to be anything super-special. In truth it feels like it should have been a story arc within the main Daredevil book, and the extra one shots and crossovers are making it something bigger than it has any reaon to be. The last page of the first issue isn’t as much of a talking point as much as both Diggle and Marvel wanted it to be but hopefully the overall story will make a good contribution and changes to the Daredevil mythos.
Shadowland #1 is out right now, and issue 2 hits the shelves next week.