I decided early on to get every single Shadowland tie-in mini and one-shot. Primarily because I wanted to (and I don’t buy that many non-Daredevil books regularly that I can’t afford to go a little overboard for a few months), but also because I wanted everyone who reads this blog to be able to follow along with the books they’re not reading.
Since Shadowland: Blood on the Streets doesn’t feature Daredevil, and hasn’t been pitched as required reading in order to follow the main event, I know that many of you have decided to skip it. After having read this issue, I’m telling you that you may want to rethink that decision. Of the six Shadowland-related issues that have been published thus far, this one – in my mind – is second only to Daredevil #508.
I really enjoyed the first chapter to this story, and I think it has all the qualities an event tie-in should. It doesn’t feed off of the main event in the sense that it contains crucial elements that really belong in the core books, but at the same time, it adds to the appreciation of Shadowland as a whole in expanding on some of the mysteries at the periphery of the main storyline. I also think the book benefits from being written by current Daredevil co-scribe Antony Johnston in that you really get a very authentic sense of a shared universe and one of the last scenes of this issue is very cleverly lined up with that of Daredevil #508 and Shadowland #2.
Of the four main characters of Blood on the Streets, the only two I had more than a passing familiarity with were Misty Knight and Paladin. While I had certainly heard of the Shroud and Silver Sable, they were new acquaintances to me. I also didn’t know just how closely the Shroud’s background resembles Daredevil’s. As in, he’s blind and has a law degree. Other than that, he comes across as a much more mysterious presence than the Man Without Fear.
Anyway, the Shroud’s connection to the main story, which centers on a mysterious murder case where a mobster is found dead with a handprint on his face, is that he’s first to show up at the scene of the crime. Misty is brought into the story when the dead man’s brother requests her services, which in turn opens her eyes to the bigger picture. All over town, people are showing up dead bearing the same signature mark.
Silver Sable enters the story while on an Interpol assignment to go after a certain Sergey Bulovic. What she finds (I won’t spoil it here) is also directly related to what appear to be Hand activities. Paladin, meanwhile, makes a late entrance in this issue and his connection to the larger plot has yet to be revealed.
The strengths of this issue are clearly the nuanced character work, and the intricate mystery that is built around a deceptively straightforward main plot. This feels like a classic detective story which gets its freshness from the natural ease with which Johnston brings the characters together clever use of the seeds that have been planted elsewhere in the greater Shadowland story.
What is followed up on here is the very clear indication that lots of things are going that Daredevil doesn’t know about. We all know that the White Tiger is running around doing her own thing, but I suspect there may be more players who want to cause confusion and destruction. A prime example would be usual suspect Wilson Fisk and his new pal Lady Bullseye. Who is at fault here is, of course, part of the mystery.
The art team of Wellinton Alves (pencils), Nelson Pereira (inks) and Frank Martin (colors) put in an effort here that matches the simple elegance of the writing and works really well for the story being told. For me, it’s always a good sign when I barely notice the artwork because I’m too engaged in the story. It doesn’t go overboard on the details, but the proportions are good and the characters’ faces communicate just the right level of emotion.
Blood on the Streets delivers everything an tie-in should; it tells a story that is interesting in and of itself while adding richness to the supporting event. I’m totally looking forward to more of this next month!
For all of those who are wondering – and I know you’re out there – Misty Knight’s pregnancy is acknowledged in this story. The continuity hyper-aware need not worry. 😉