Whoa, a three-point drop since last issue? Well, Daredevil #508 was one of the best issues I’ve read in years and this issue just… wasn’t. For me, the whole Shadowland journey has been like taking a trip to Paris in shoes that are one size too small. The journey is a nice change of pace and scenery, the ambiance is different and invigorating and there are plenty of interesting sights. The only problem is that there’s a certain amount of discomfort that makes the vacation less than what it could be.
Daredevil #508 was a near perfect issue. The pacing was great and the character work was excellent. Most importantly, when it comes to the point I’m trying to make, Matt Murdock was actually present, not just physically. His inner struggle was felt and there was a hint of the character that we used to know. His journey to the dark side felt organic. In this issue, Daredevil is clearly present, but I don’t feel him. I’ve pointed to the characterization of Matt as being the biggest problem for me with the whole event, the too small shoes in this odd analogy.
This issue, I liked most of the scenes that didn’t have Daredevil in them, and I was very impressed by Antony Johnston’s Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1 (to be covered in a separate review) which doesn’t have Daredevil in it at all. The bigger concepts work, but it’s sad to have to admit that I’d probably be enjoying this event more if I wasn’t such a hardcore Daredevil fan. I really hope the characterization of Matt will improve greatly, at least to the point where he feels less like a generic villain, or I fear I will soon start to feel homesick.
To their credit, Diggle and Johnston manage to clarify at least a couple of things when it comes to what happened when and whether Matt was/is in control of his own actions. While I was fairly certain that Daredevil willingly and knowingly killed Bullseye, here it is stated outright that the act of killing him was what was needed for whatever is controlling him now (to some extent at least) to manifest itself. The Snakeroot daimyo talk about the black flower taking root.
This explains the scene with Matt last issue where he’s having a rather interesting experience coming home after killing Bullseye, and why he, seemingly surprised himself, tells the Black Tarantula in Shadowland #2 that he “feels nothing”. This firmly establishes a much-needed timeline for trying to make sense of where Matt’s head is, but doesn’t really address just what the heck happened between the end of Daredevil #507, where he was fairly balanced, and the more extreme events of Shadowland #1.
What I definitely liked about this issue was the interaction between Master Izo and Elektra. Izo is a great character and the writing team clearly have a lot of fun writing him. Elektra’s inclusion in this event is a given, and I foresee her being put to interesting use in the issues ahead (as well as in her own one-shot coming out next month).
Not surprisingly, Foggy and Dakota survive last issue’s attack after Luke and Danny come to their aid. This sets up the “intervention scene” of Shadowland #2 and means that all events but the very last scene predates Shadowland #2, or at least overlaps with it. I talked about this briefly in the comments section of my Shadowland #2 review, and I must say that I (unlike at least a few people as far as I can see) don’t particularly mind this. There are a lot of things going on at once that need to be covered, and this is a common storytelling trick in fiction, regardless of the medium. The attack on Foggy and Dakota also highlights one of the more intriguing subplots to this tale, that is the obvious rogue forces running around town and White Tiger’s position. She clearly controls much of the communication between Daredevil and his soldiers and must act as a very effective information filter and spin doctor.
This issue also brings an old acquaintance of Matt’s back into his life. I’m feeling pretty neutral about Typhoid Mary’s appearance in this issue. It can be used to great effect if done well, but with only so many issues to cover the whole story and with the list of characters involved being pretty long as it is, I hope Diggle and Johnston have something really special in mind for her.
Roberto de la Torre continues to put in some really fine work here, even though I think the art was perhaps a tiny notch below that of last issue. It looks a little more rushed and perhaps a little too dark in some places.
Well, that’s it for now boys and girls. Here’s looking forward to next month’s Shadowland and Daredevil in the hopes that I might get to trade my tight shoes in for some comfy slippers (yes, I know the analogy might be a overdone at this point). I know that this whole team certainly has it in them to put in some great quality of work, and I also suspect that there will be quite a few twists to this tale before it’s all said and done.
Will see you guys again tomorrow for my review of Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1!