First of all, Marvel’s October solicits are online (see, for example, Newsarama). However, I strongly suggest you stay away if you want to avoid spoilers. I looked at a text-only version of the solicits yesterday, and sort of wished I hadn’t, and that was after only looking at the Shadowland main title, Daredevil and Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow, before I realized that I didn’t want to know more. The cover to Shadowland #4 is allegedly a huge spoiler (which makes you wonder why they release these things at all). Anyway, if you still want to take a look, you know where the link is. Just remember to keep quiet about it around these parts!
In general, though, Daredevil’s future is something many of us have had reason to ponder lately, particularly in light of the teasers coming out of last week’s San Diego Comic-Con (see my last post). I said then that I would return to this topic, hence this post. Below, you’ll find some of my theories. Weigh in with your own in the comments!
Let’s analyze the situation, shall we? Marvel attends the biggest Comic Con of the year in the middle of a somewhat significant event. Neither the main writer (Andy Diggle) or what could arguable be called the event’s second in command (Antony Johnston) are at the convention. There is no dedicated Shadowland panel, and there isn’t much that can be said about the event that should be revealed at this point anyway. But they have to say something about it, right? To get people talking and guessing. So, they throw around a couple of images – that no one who wasn’t in the audience has actually seen – and introduce us to three characters that have rarely (see Nova’s first meeting with Daredevil above, from Daredevil #142 by Marv Wolfman, Bob Brown and Jim Mooney), if ever, been associated with the Daredevil title in any way.
In the days that have passed since these announcements, there has been no additional information, and no other characters have been suggested – at least not to my knowledge. I think it’s clear that Shadowland will have dramatic repercussions on the Daredevil title. In all honesty, there shouldn’t be an easy fix for the mess that Matt has gotten himself into, but the idea that a currently hyped character (Daredevil) would be replaced – in his own book – with one of the suggested characters (all of whom are clearly less able than Daredevil to carry a title for any longer period of time) sounds far-fetched.
Daredevil stays in his own book, loses the tagline
One of the things that struck me as strange about the release of these teasers was the wording. Someone else would be the new Man Without Fear? But, that isn’t even a proper title or even a costumed identity. It would be like saying that someone other than Spider-Man would be Marvel’s new Amazing character or that Iron Man would no longer be Invincible. Man Without Fear is a slogan or at best a nickname.
There has been the occasional play on words in the solicits leading up Shadowland. We’ve read things like “The Man Without Fear is now the man to fear.” The teasers from SDCC may just be more in this vein. For all we know, Foggy Nelson may be the new Man Without Fear. From the look of things, he may need to be.
We also have to consider the possibility that Shadowland will generate new titles and that a character other than Daredevil might snatch the famous slogan for some period of time.
Daredevil leaves his own book for a while
While this may have been most people’s first assumption, it makes less sense the more I think about it. Marvel runs a business, which is as it should be. Fortunately for us, the key to running a successful business is to put out a product that people actually want to buy. Taking a well-respected and moderately successful comic book character and giving him a higher profile is a good business move if you want more people to buy his book. Going through all of this only to remove said character from the scene (and/or his own book) strikes me as a bad business move.
Marvel isn’t beyond making choices that might seem odd (One More Day comes to mind), but messing around with a title which has actually had 40+ uninterrupted years of publication in a way that risks putting off a large number of fans – of which I would most certainly be one – makes very little sense. Publishers usually take these kinds of risks with titles that are either doing well enough that an upset doesn’t risk sending the sales crashing or with titles that are doing so poorly that there is little to lose. Daredevil is not in either of these categories.
I think it’s natural for any emotionally invested Daredevil fan to feel a little anxious these days. In a way, this is one of the reasons Shadowland feels like an interesting event; there is an acute sense that what is happening in Matt Murdock’s life will affect him in very real ways. Whether we as fans will appreciate the fall-out of this event remains unknown, but we’re definitely at the edge of our seats.
I will admit that I’m nervous, but I don’t really worry terribly about Shadowland ruining Daredevil. I feel that he’s in good hands creatively, and it’s also well-known that Joe Quesada is big fan of the character. With a movie on the horizon (albeit a few years away and out of Marvel’s hands), I doubt that we’ll see any irreparable damage done to the true Man Without Fear.
Before I forget, do check out this 30-minute interview with Antony Johnston on the Speak of the Devil podcast.