Come July, we’ll officially be in Shadowland territory, and with the most recent arc Left Hand Path having come to a close, I thought this would be the perfect time to put together a little – or not so little – primer for new or forgetful Daredevil readers.
Since the current events in Daredevil go all the way back to Daredevil #111, with the introduction of Lady Bullseye, that seemed like the best place to start this issue by issue recap which takes us to the end of Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s run, with the anniversary issue Daredevil #500 (which followed Daredevil #119 and reverted to the original numbering), and into the first issues by the current creative team of Andy Diggle and Roberto de la Torre. The latter have recently been joined by Antony Johnston, co-writer of Daredevil #505-512, and Marco Checchetto who’s been the artist for Daredevil #505-507 (see the end of the post for full credits for the issues listed here).
With no further ado, let’s get to the longest post this blog has ever seen. On the other hand (no pun intended), this should serve both as a refresher to people who’ve been on board since the beginning as well as a complete introduction to anyone who feels like catching up. Let’s get to it, shall we?
In this issue, we meet Lady Bullseye for the first time and learn about her past as a freed sex slave who was inspired to take on her costumed identity when she watched the original Bullseye kill her captors many years ago. For much of the issue, we see her stalking Matt and his firm’s private investigator Dakota North from afar as the two of them seek out Danny “Iron Fist” Rand to have him tend to Dakota’s still healing gun-shot wound (which she sustained in the previous arc). While Matt and Dakota succumb to their mutual attraction for each other, Lady Bullseye goes on a killing spree. As we find out at the end of the issue, she is killing people to frame Matt for murder.
Lady Bullseye answers to a man named Hirochi, and the two of them have a list of targets which includes Danny Rand, Carlos LaMuerto (the Black Tarantula), Logan (Wolverine), and someone thus far referred to only as “the old man.” Lady Bullseye points out that Matt Murdock should be easy to get to, but is warned to stay away from him. Already at this point, there is a sneaking suspicion that Lady Bullseye has her own agenda.
Dakota wakes up in Matt’s bed to find the house deserted. Outside, Matt is being arrested by the police and with one glance at the newspaper, Dakota realizes what’s happened. The paper claims that Daredevil killed two thugs in Hell’s Kitchen the night before.
The story cuts to months earlier in Japan where the Avengers stand over the dead body of Elektra’s Skrull imposter, then leader of the Hand. Over the next few pages, we learn more about how this news is received within the Hand’s own ranks. Upon losing their leader, Lord Hirochi sends for “the girl,” who turns out to be none other than Lady Bullseye herself. She is given a mission which takes her to New York and the present day where we find her having breakfast, in civilian clothes, with a man named Hiro who is less than enthused by her putting Daredevil’s face on the first page of the newspapers. Before they have time to discuss the matter further, they realize it’s time to move in on their first subject. Lady Bullseye and Hiro watch from afar as the ninjas at their command attack Carlos LaMuerto in his apartment, and they engage in a sort of running commentary throughout, clearly doing an assessment of his skills. Later, a similar attack is staged against Danny Rand
Meanwhile, Matt is being released from police custody after Dakota tells them about their affair, thus providing Daredevil with an alibi for the night before. After spending the day together, they come home to Matt’s apartment to find Carlos LaMuerto tied up on the floor and an old Japanese man going through the fridge in search of beer. The man introduces himself as Master Izo and informs Matt that he will help him destroy the Hand.
Lady Bullseye is admonished by Hirochi for framing Matt for murder, something he suspects will draw Daredevil’s attention more than divert it. In Matt’s apartment, Matt and Dakota talk to the now untied Carlos and Master Izo who inform them that the Hand is back in town. Master Izo clearly knows a great deal about Matt and is surprised that Matt doesn’t know who he is. Danny Rand joins the party to inform them that he, too, was attacked by the Hand. The plot thickens when Dakota gets a call from her cop friend Detective Kurtz who informs her that the witness in the murder investigation against Daredevil has been killed.
This lures Matt out onto the streets and Daredevil and Lady Bullseye finally meet. She brings a whole pack of ninjas and makes some not so subtle threats against Matt’s loved ones. Master Izo shows up to save the day and tries unsuccessfully to talk Matt out of going to see his wife Milla, convinced that he is just following Lady Bullseye’s lead. Matt refuses to listen, and Dakota gets behind the wheel to drive him upstate to the facility where Milla is being cared for. He is shocked to learn that Milla was released into the custody of her parents the day before.
Meanwhile, Master Izo and Carlos follow a Hand ninja back to their hide-out where they find the set of photographs on the wall that Lady Bullseye and Hirochi were discussing two issues earlier. Among the faces is that of Angela Del Toro, the White Tiger. This brings us to a scene of Angela coming home to her apartment where she is met by Lady Bullseye who stabs her through the chest and kills her.
The issue opens to Matt throwing a temper tantrum in his office over his parents-in-law taking Milla. Foggy assures him that this doesn’t seem like a set-up by anyone and that the people who took Milla really were her parents. Shortly, the Donovans, Milla’s enraged parents, are on their way up with their lawyer – an Japanese woman by the name of Maki Matsumoto. Matt suspects that she might be Lady Bullseye, but also notes that she appears different to him. When Dakota enters the conference room to offer some coffe, the Donovans snap and the stack of photographs of Matt and Dakota’s illicit affair they’ve been sitting on is thrown on the table.
Worried about Angela’s safety, Carlos, as the Black Tarantula rushes to find her while Master Izo and Danny wait in a nearby bar. He soon finds the White Tiger fighting ninjas on a roof top and rushes to her aid. Of course, the whole thing is a trick, Angela has been resurrected and turned by the Hand, and the fight is a trap set to do the same thing to Carlos.
Later, we see Maki Matsumoto coming home to her apartment and her identity as Lade Bullseye is confirmed for the reader when her associate Hiro steps out from the shadows to attack her. Hiro accuses Lady Bullseye of deceiving their effort, but she turns out to be the one with the better skills and kills him with his own sword. Matt is greeted by a surprise of his own when he comes home to a sonic device meant to disorient him. When he finally shuts it off, he is greeted by Lady Bullseye, her ninjas, and his two friends White Tiger and Black Tarantula.
Toward the end of the last issue, Danny and Master Izo grew concerned about the success of Black Tarantula’s rescue operation when they left the bar to find the five Hand ninja that had been watching them suddenly gone. This issue opens to a scene of them rushing over the roof tops toward Matt’s home. They arrive just in time to find Matt engaged in full-blown battle. While the fight goes on, Matt notes that even though he’s got his hands full, neither of his attackers have attempted to inflict the kind of wound that would kill him, leading him to suspect that they want him alive. Just as Lady Bullseye nearly knocks Matt unconscious, Master Izo bursts onto the scene and creates a distraction before going off to look for Hirochi. Matt get’s just enough time to get his head together and he and Lady Bullseye takes the fight outside. She sends White Tiger and Black Tarantula on Master Izo’s tail, and stays to deal with Daredevil herself.
From this point, the issue switches back and forth between Daredevil’s fight with Lady Bullseye and Master Izo’s meeting with Hirochi. Izo kills Hirochi’s security detail and goes on to mock Hirochi for his inability to control his mission. Hirochi accuses Izo of being a traitor, and it’s clear to the reader that Izo is privy to the Hand’s plans for Matt in a way that may not have been suspected up until now.
After a prolonged fight, Lady Bullseye reveals that what she has been doing to Matt has nothing to do with destroying his life, and everything to do with clearing away the obstacles in his life so that he will be willing to accept the gift she has to offer: leadership of the Hand. Baffled, Daredevil launches at her again, and Lady Bullseye knocks him unconscious. When he comes to, Master Izo is at his side. Izo guesses correctly that Matt turned down Lady Bullseye’s offer, and Matt is suprised to learn that Izo knew about this all along. The issue ends with Matt to continuing to fight for his wife while Lady Bullseye, Hirochi and the rest of their group board an airplane to Spain to launch their plan B.
This unusual issue takes us far from New York to get reacquainted with Wilson Fisk who left the U.S. one year earlier to go to Spain. He has settled in the Costa da Morte, his late wife Vanessa’s favorite place. The former Kingpin is trying to lead a different kind of life to honor Vanessa and finds a new surprising love with a local woman named Marta. After months of bliss with Marta and her two children he comes home one day to find all of them slaughtered by Lady Bullseye and her ninjas. When he asks why they would do such a thing, Lady Bullseye tells him to “ask Daredevil.”
The Kingpin returns to New York and gets reacquainted with everyone from Turk to the regulars at Josie’s bar (which has now literally moved underground). Matt, as Daredevil, goes after the P.I. who took the pictures of him and Dakota, rattles him pretty badly and sends him to apologize to Dakota and part with his memory card.
Daredevil then goes to meet up with Izo who just chopped the head off the ninja that was stalking him. Izo tells a noticeably irritated Daredevil that the Hand is back in town, just as he said they would be. The next day, Matt has another meeting with Milla’s parents who are understandably livid that he would threaten their private investigator. Neither party is about to yield and they accuse each other of blackmail.
Matt ends up having more people upset with him when Dakota marches in in the middle of his workout. She’s angry about Matt threatening the P.I. and we’re treated to a scene of a bandaged and visibly shell-shocked man seek out Dakota in a coffee shop to hand over the memory card. Dakota insists that she can fight her own battles and that Matt is going too far. In the middle of their argument, Matt gets a call from his informants Chico and Merv who tell him that the Kingpin is back in town. After hanging up, Matt follows Dakota outside where she tells him that she’s quitting her job at the law firm.
With Matt barefoot out on the street in the middle of winter (ninja feet…), Turk shows up to let him know that the Kingpin wants to see him. The two meet in a cemetery where the Kingpin tells Daredevil about his ordeal in Spain and announces that he wants to make a deal with him to go after the Hand.
The issue opens with a scene of Leland Owlsley, The Owl, being taken from the courthouse to a prison transport that will take him to Ryker’s. Before the van has a chance to leave the parking garage, a group of armed men show up and take out the security guards. They toss The Owl into the backseat of a car where he comes face to face with the Kingpin, who announces that he’s got a job for him.
Across town, Izo expresses his disappointment with Matt’s decision to partner with the Kingpin, stressing that nothing good can come of it. Matt doesn’t care, saying that he can deal with the Kingpin later, and that he’s more interested in going after the people who are ruining his life. However, Matt doesn’t seem to care much about the people who are still in his life, because he soon has Foggy angry at him for skipping the settlement meeting with Milla’s parents. Matt hasn’t been at the office in a week and Foggy goes to his house to wait for him. On his way home, Matt stops outside Dakota’s apartment, regretting everything that happened as well as the fact that it could never work out between them.
When Matt comes home, Foggy is waiting for him. On Matt’s answering machine is a message from the Kingpin, and the realization that Matt has made some kind of deal with the Kingpin drives Foggy into a rage which is fueled even more by Matt seemingly failing to appreciate what he’s putting Foggy through. Finally, Foggy leaves and slams the door shut, but not before firing his law partner.
On Matt’s answering machine, the Kingpin mentioned bringing another player into the game, and on the final pages, we see the Owl seek out Lady Bullseye, looking to hire the Hand. He has a long list of people he needs to have killed.
Detective Kurtz contacts Daredevil to see if he knows anything about what’s happening in town. Mobsters on all levels are being killed across town in a fashion that clearly suggests the work of ninjas. When Kurtz questions whether the Owl being sprung from jail has anything to do with this it is the first time Daredevil hears about it. He immediately starts suspecting that this may be the new player that the Kingpin mentioned. While searching for Master Izo, Matt has more time to think about what Owlsley’s involvement might mean. Is the Kingpin only using the Owl to lure the Hand out of hiding or does he intend to use the Hand to take out all his competition in town?
Next, we cut to Wilson Fisk having a conversation with his dead wife, but Turk catches his boss talking to himself when he comes into his office to announce that the Owl is there to see him. This has Turk questioning whether Fisk is going insane. The Owl, meanwhile, gets a new target to pass on to Lady Bullseye, and this time it’s none other than Foggy Nelson. At this point, Lady Bullseye, who has likely seen what the Owl and the Kingpin have been up to all along, decides to call their bluff and demands to be taken to see the Kingpin himself, but not before sending Black Tarantula and White Tiger to kill Foggy.
When the Kingpin and Lady Bullseye finally meet, they are not alone. Dakota has been following Turk since he went out for donuts earlier in the day, and this leads her to the meeting site. It doesn’t take long for Lady Bullseye to detect her presence however, and after taking two chopsticks to the arm (we finally learn what those are for), Dakota easily falls prey to the Owl who has been standing by waiting for a chance to get a piece of the action and knocks her unconscious.
Daredevil #500, the anniversary issue, starts with a scene set hundreds of years ago in Japan. We see Izo, who has just blinded himself in an attempt to gain greater clarity, have a dispute with a fellow follower of the Hand. Izo says that there is no honor left in the Hand, and takes off.
In the present, Izo has taken Matt to see his wife. Matt now realizes what he has to do, and after saying a final and heartfelt good-bye to Milla, he calls Foggy to instruct him to give Milla’s parents what they want. Foggy barely has the chance to hang up the phone before Black Tarantula and the White Tiger enter his office with a group of ninjas.
We are briefly transported back to the past again, though the more recent past of “fifty-five years ago” where Izo is having a conversation with Matt’s old sensei Stick. The two are in disagreement over what the Chaste should be and Izo tells Stick that their group is turning into a bunch of prudes, trying too hard to simply be the Hand’s polar opposite.
Daredevil finds Turk waiting in a car outside his home and by now the realization that the Kingpin is trying to manipulate him sends him into a rage. He smashes the windshield and reaches in to grab Turk when he smells Dakota’s purse in the backseat. Naturally, this has Daredevil even more wound up, but things are not as they seem. Fearing that his boss has mentally gone off the deep end, Turk has decided to defy the Kingpin’s instructions to keep Daredevil occupied, and instead tells him where he can find Dakota.
After checking in with both Dakota, who is being held by the Owl, and Foggy, who is dangling from a roof top at the mercy of Black Tarantula and White Tiger, we get another flashback to “eighteen years ago” where Matt, newly blinded, is sitting in a hospital bed. His father is talking to the doctor in the hallway outside, and Matt gets a visitor in the form of the now familiar Master Izo. Satisfied that Matt can sense his presence, he leaves the boy’s room and places a phone call to a pool hall in search of a man named Stick. This scene creates an additional link between Matt and Izo. The latter didn’t just train Stick, he discovered Matt’s potential as well.
Back in the present, Daredevil and Master Izo attack the Owl’s hideout to free Dakota. Matt doesn’t hold back during what turns out to be a brutal fight and knowingly paralyzes the Owl so the he can’t hurt anyone again. Dakota has been told by her captors that the Hand has gone after Foggy, and as soon as she is able, she relays the news to Matt. Izo reassures them that he has someone on the inside and that they shouldn’t worry. The man on the inside turns out to be Black Tarantula who, thanks to his healing ability has managed to cleanse the Hand’s evil from his body, just as Master Izo knew he would when he hired him for the job months earlier. Now Carlos pulls Foggy back from the edge and throws him across the roof to relative safety while he critically injures White Tiger and kills the ninjas at their command. When the dust settles, he uses his ability to bring White Tiger back and she, too, is no longer under the Hand’s control.
The Kingpin, meanwhile, is in the Hand’s inner sanctum, ready to assume leadership of the Hand. Too early for his taste, Daredevil and Master Izo show up to crash the party, but not before Fisk has the chance to kill Hirochi, the man who gave the order to kill Marta and her children in Spain. Izo and Daredevil fight Lady Bullseye and the Kingpin, and Daredevil asks the Hand leaders whether the offer still stands. Realizing that he can’t let someone like Wilson Fisk get control over an organization as dangerous as the Hand, Matt has made the previously unthinkable decision of accepting their offer.
At the end of the issue, we see Matt head off to the trials that await him while Foggy and Dakota go to Matt’s home to find it abandoned and empty. A note from Matt instructs Foggy to put his things in storage and everything points to Matt going away for a long time. We also learn that Lady Bullseye was trained by Master Izo and that he was the one who sent her after Matt. In return she was promised leadership of the Hand. This adds to making Izo an even more enigmatic figure whose goals may be admirable, but whose methods are not.
Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil
Part of the Dark Reign – The List series of titles, this issue marks Andy Diggle’s first and fits between Daredevil #500 and #501 in terms of continuity. The opening scene shows Matt being introduced to the business side of the Hand where he is briefed on the size of their enterprise. Before he is ready to take charge, however, there is a series of tests he must go through. Warned that the trials have already begun, the story moves to another part of town where Detective Kurtz is cornered by two dirty cops accused of excessive force who have recently been reinstated by Norman Osborn. With them is the equally corrupt Judge Walden. Before things get the chance to heat up, everyone but Kurtz is killed by an unseen attacker, revealed to the readers as a ninja.
This is enough to put Daredevil on Norman Osborn’s radar. Norman knows that Daredevil is now leading the Hand and that this was a murder with ninja written all over it. He gives the task of killing Daredevil to the latter’s longtime enemy Bullseye, now an Avenger. Bullseye is not convinced that Daredevil is really behind these murders, but is happy to get the chance to go after him.
While Daredevil is undergoing his initiation rites, consisting of torture as well as a fight to the death, Bullseye and HAMMER barge in and start by taking Daredevil’s opponent out of his misery. Daredevil is lured outside by Bullseye, and because of his pride, he decides to chase after him alone. With both Bullseye and Daredevil hanging on to a rope trailing a HAMMER helicopter, Bullseye lets his enemy fall on top of a building full of civilians staging a protest against Oscorp’s plans to demolish their homes. When the building is blown to pieces, it takes one hundred and seven people with it, though Daredevil is not one of them.
Lady Bullseye, the true assassin responsible for the deaths of the two cops and the judge saw the building explode and reports back to her new boss, the Kingpin. Wilson Fisk knows better, however, than to presume Murdock dead.
Wallowing in guilt over the pride and arrogance which he feels caused the deaths of more than one hundred innocent people, Daredevil sits perched on a rooftop, listening to the sermon in honor of the dead. He is joined by Master Izo who tries to talk some sense into him, but something in Matt has changed and he cannot be reasoned with. He declares that he will use the Hand as a weapon for good, but that the Hand demands the sacrifice of an innocent. Before Izo has time to react, a swarm of ninjas dressed to match the look of their new leader descend on their location and captures Izo.
In another part of town, Dakota visits Foggy and Becky Blake at the office and the three of them discuss whether Matt could really be behind the death of Judge Walden. They know, presumably from speaking with Danny Rand, that Matt has taken over the Hand and it is also clear that the judge was killed by a ninja. To add insult to injury, the judge was hearing Foggy’s current case which is tied directly to the dead protestors.
Elsewhere, in a more dimly lit office, Turk has been called to the Kingpin and is informed that his services are no longer needed. Lady Bullseye puts her sword to Turk’s throat and the Kingpin confronts him with his previous betrayal. In a surprising twist, the Kingpin lets him go, later telling Lady Bullseye that he doesn’t mind tricking his opponents into thinking him “a spent force.”
Things don’t look quite as hopeful for Master Izo who is strung up in the Hand’s lair somewhere under the city, listening to Daredevil make a borderline deranged speech about his plans for the Hand and the sacrifices that need to be made. He finally puts his fists where his mouth is and punches Izo hard enough for him to slam into the wall. He is declared dead and Daredevil’s loyal subjects kneel before him.
We see the Owl again for the first time since Daredevil #500 when his lieutenants pay him a visit in Doctor Parker’s makeshift hospital. With their former boss unable to move (though still in possession of his appetite for live rodents), his closest men tell him that they’re taking over his business. Later in the issue, we find out that the Owl’s lieutenants now answer to the Kingpin though one of them has to part with his head after getting a little too cocky around the new boss.
Below the streets, Matt has a strange dream. While his inner monologue informs the reader that he sometimes sees in his dreams, this particular dream has an unusual clarity to it. It starts off as a good dream, but turns bitter when he meets Dakota, Milla and Elektra, all of them telling him about something “inside him.” When the dream turns into a nightmare, elegantly portrayed on page by having real horns grow from Matt’s forehead, he wakes up, surrounded by his followers. Black Tarantula and White Tiger demand to speak with him alone. White Tiger is visibly upset that Daredevil went through with the killing of Master Izo, and Daredevil then shows her to the room where Izo is being kept. He tells her about his and Izo’s deception – the latter can slow down his heartbeat at will – while Black Tarantula bring him back from his deep coma.
Foggy Nelson runs into his own set of problems when the corrupt judge presiding over the police brutality case he is arguing overrules the jury’s not guilty verdict. This understandably has Foggy up in arms and he is dragged away and locked up for being in contempt of court.
Since taking on his new role as leader of the Hand, Matt has been out of step with many of the things happening in the streets, but the White Tiger and Black Tarantula fill him in on all the things going on with Norman Osborn in charge. When Daredevil asks them to show him, his two confidants take him to the site of a drug bust involving a group of dirty cops looking to get their hands on the loot. Daredevil responds by having his entire group move in.
The scene from last issue continues here and we see the Hand successfully subdue police and drug dealers alike. Daredevil instructs White Tiger to dump the drugs in the river, but finds the question of what to do next a difficult one to answer. The reader is still not privy to what actually happens next, and all we learn this issue is that White Tiger is upset by Matt’s level of brutality, though it’s clear by the end of the issue that the men they attacked have not been killed when Daredevil takes a stand against something as comparatively “innocent” as cutting a man’s hand off. It is clear that Matt might have bitten off more than he can chew, however, when the ninja responsible commits ritual suicide right in front of him.
Becky Blake finds herself carrying a triple work load this issue with partner number one off to lead the Hand and partner number two having been disbarred. Their problems don’t end there, however, as Dakota finds that her private investigator’s license has been revoked.
The Kingpin steps up his game and sends some men to secure an early release of sorts for a group of prisoners being transported across town. The price for their freedom is simple: They may do whatever they like, but half of their earnings will go to their new boss, The Hood. Back in the Kingpin’s office, just as he is finishing off the Owl’s lieutenants, the men responsible for the raid against the prison transport ask the Kingpin why he is having half his new people thinking that they are working for the Owl while the other half believes they are working for the Hood.
This issue brings the first mention of Shadowland when Daredevil is being shown blueprints of this new enigmatic structure to be built on the site of the demolished building, now too tainted to be used for the purpose originally intended. Next, Black Tarantula approaches to tell Matt about the news of what happened to Foggy and Dakota. This pushes another set of buttons for our title character who feels the frustration of not being able to keep his friends safe despite all of the sacrifices he’s had to make.
Down at the police station, Kurtz has his hands full with the case of the missing SWAT team after their encounter with the Hand last issue. His conversation with a colleague is interrupted when a ninja appears at the window to declare that Hell’s Kitchen is now Hand territory. In another part of town, the Kingpin is looking to take advantage of the situation by sending Lady Bullseye in to cause as much damage as possible to the operation Daredevil has planned.
At this point, Osborn has caught wind of the Hand’s most recent activity in the Kitchen and sends in H.A.M.M.E.R. troops to deal with the ninja problem. This leads to a full-scale standoff between the Hand and H.A.M.M.E.R. that, once again, results in people going missing. Foggy and Dakota arrive at the scene after having paid a visit to the corrupt judge that had Foggy disbarred (and learning that he was taking orders from the Kingpin rather than Norman Osborn). They fear for their friends sanity when they hear about how people were dragged screaming underground. In the final scene, we finally learn where these people end up; locked up in the sewers while waiting for the construction of a much larger prison…
This and the following two issues take Matt away from New York, where he has left Carlos to oversee the construction of Shadowland, while he and Angela fly to Japan. Matt realizes that in order to be able to accomplish his goals, he needs to unify the Hand. Currently, that elusive unity is threatened by one of the five daimyo (regional warlords). Bakuto, head of the South American branch is suspected of having a killed his former leader – which is later revealed as fact to the reader – and he is now openly defying Matt’s leadership.
Matt and Angela arrive in a wintry Japan and we are all acquainted with the other three daimyo (Angela, the White Tiger, is head of the North American branch). Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka also get a taste of Bakuto’s insubordination and it is clear they consider him a problem to be handled. Matt does his best to establish control of the group, and ask all parties to save their grievances for the summit. After a secret meeting, Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka launch their plan to get to Bakuto.
During their meeting, Matt lays out his plans for the Hand, and he clearly still sees the organization as an instrument to be used for justice and affecting change in the world. Bakuto openly mocks this suggestion and accuses Matt of betraying their ideals. Later that evening, during a lavish banquet, Bakuto starts to experience vivid hallucinations and Matt, clearly puzzled but what has happened, sends Bakuto to his room. Later, as Daredevil, he goes to try to win Bakuto’s trust, but the latter is still affected by the same hallucinations as earlier. Before long, both are surrounded by ninjas.
The issue opens with a peek into Bakuto’s world. Affected by some kind of magic, he is unable to see things as they really are and is convinced that everyone around him, including Daredevil is some kind of demon. Matt tries to reason with him while fighting off their attackers. The ninjas flee after setting off a flash bomb, and while Matt runs after one of them, Bakuto finds himself trapped by another. Matt’s attempt to get any information out of the people who attacked them prove virtually futile and he returns to help Bakuto. This turns out to be a thankless job as Bakuto is more convinced than ever that Matt staged the whole thing.
Matt discusses the matter with White Tiger and voices his suspicions that the attempt on Bakuto’s life was an inside job. He fails to persuade the guilty to step forward during dinner, however, and can sense no nervousness or erratic heartbeats. After dinner, he falls asleep, and we get a follow-up to the dream sequence from Daredevil #502. This time, Elektra shows up once again and repeats her statement that “it’s inside of you,” cutting him open with her sai. Matt wakes up to realize it was all a dream, but still finds blood from a cut on his stomach.
Elsewhere, Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka get a secret visitor who assures them that Murdock suspects nothing. In a shocking twist, the obvious traitor is none other than White Tiger
The closing issue of the arc is told almost entirely from the point of view of Makoto, Takashi and Yutaka. The opening sequence sees them narrating an event happening elsewhere, an attack on Daredevil staged by Bakuto’s men which takes them outside into the snow. The daimyo decide that now is the time to take out Bakuto and White Tiger is sent to deal with it. We also learn that the reason she has fallen back under their spell is that she needs Black Tarantula’s healing factor to resist her original conditioning.
White Tiger swiftly kills Bakuto’s men and the two of them go head to head. Using a concealed sword, White Tiger stabs Bakuto in the stomach, making it look like seppuku, ritual suicide. Matt returns after his futile attempt to find out who was behind the attack on him, and White Tiger, still playing he part, leads him to Bakuto’s dead body. The other daimyo show up, and the story they tell to explain Bakuto’s death is a convincing one. Still, we see the old Matt Murdock shine through, the one who is reluctant to take anything at face value and judge a man without trial. He can’t be sure that this isn’t, in fact, a crime scene. White Tiger reminds him that he finally accomplished the unity he came for and that asking too many questions will make the whole thing fall apart. Matt accepts her argument and decides that it’s time for the two of them to go back to New York.
The final scene shows the three daimyo conclude that all is going as planned and that Matt has “stepped over the threshold into shadow.” We learn here that Shadowland is not an idea that started with Murdock, but that it is, in fact, a necessary step for the Snakeroot’s (the mystical inner circle of the Hand) plans of world domination.
Phew! This was a long post, but there was also a lot of ground that needed to be covered. As promised, the full credits for these issues (not counting extra material not covered here) are:
Ed Brubaker (Daredevil #111-119, #500), Andy Diggle (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil, Daredevil #501-507), Antony Johnston (Daredevil #505-507).
Clay Mann (Daredevil #111), Michael Lark (Daredevil #112-115, #117-119, #500), David Aja (Daredevil #116), Billy Tan (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil), Roberto de la Torre (Daredevil #501-504, including inks), Marco Checchetto (Daredevil #503, #505-507, including inks).
Stefano Gaudiano (Daredevil #111-119, #500), Matt Banning (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil)
José Villarrubia (Daredevil #116), Justin Ponsor (Dark Reign – The List: Daredevil), Matt Hollingsworth (virtually everything else since the dawn of time)
Tonci Zonjic (Daredevil #115), John Lucas (inker, Daredevil #118), Klaus Janson, Chris Samnee, Paul Azaceta (Daredevil #500)