Review of Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1 (8.5/10)

Cover to Shadowland Blood on the Streets #1

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.

Panel from Shadowland: Blood on the Streets, by Antony Johnston and Wellinton Alves

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.

Second panel from Shadowland: Blood on the Streets

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. 😉

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.

34 comments

  1. Interesting that Misty’s pregnancy is brought up, I’m assuming it means she lost the baby as otherwise would just makes her a pretty terrible parent to be by getting involved in Shadowland at all, it’s certainly not worth the risk. But at least someone’s brought it up, I thought it was simply going to go away.

  2. I was going to let it slide this time, but since Ryan brought it up… I think the fact that Misty is pregnant and yet out fighting crime/ninjas is downright silly. When she actually found out she was pregnant in “Immortal Iron Fist”, she held back in her fighting enough that Danny Rand noticed. Presumably, time has passed – and she’s further along in her pregnancy – and now she’s lost that inhibition and is willing to walk herself and her baby into a ninja lair. I think her pregnancy is being acknowledged for continuity, and then its implications quickly ignored for the sake of story.

    A related question I had: isn’t Danny Rand’s identity secret? Yes, he’s known as the (former?) CEO of Rand International, but his identity as Iron Fist is still a secret, isn’t it? (Marvel.com says “no”.) I was surprised when some random thug knew that Misty’s boyfriend was not only Danny Rand, but the Immortal Iron Fist. The first, I buy; the second seemed unlikely. When was he unmasked?

    Regardless, I did really enjoy this issue. A good mystery is always appreciated, especially if it can tie in well to the larger Shadowland story. But, I would’ve bought this book without that association anyway. It’s a wonderful collection of characters that I want to know/see more of. Yet, why did they draw Misty with dreadlocks? Misty’s afro is friggin’ amazing!

  3. — Misty’s pregnancy, and the question of whether she should be out working while pregnant, is not being ignored. Have some patience, people.

    — The outfit (and hairstyle) changes, to all the characters, were my idea, because I wanted to ground this story in something a little closer to reality than the average superhero yarn. I also, frankly, wanted to get both Misty and Sable out of those horrible tacky jumpsuits.

    (And they’re braids, not dreadlocks! Big difference 🙂

    1. It never once even occurred to me that Misty shouldn’t carry on as usual just because she’s pregnant. She’s a detective and she hasn’t taken any huge risks so far. She’s not that far along, and I honestly don’t get what the big deal is.

  4. Antony – alright, I’ll have some faith in you, I have no problem with that.

    Christine – I don’t get how you can’t see how a pregnant woman wandering into a ninja lair is irresponsible of her. I know she’s only fictional, that’s fine, but even in early stages of pregnancy, hell, especially in early stages of pregnancy, you have such a risk of losing the child and that’s not really what you should ever want. If it’s being addressed then that’s good, I’m sure it’ll be sorted well. But pregnant women do have to be careful, they don’t stop living and just bubble wrap themselves but they practise harm minimisation and I can only assume many pregnant police officers should end up in positions of less physical risk in those months because it’s really not worth it otherwise. Or maybe I’m just too protective, who knows.

  5. @Antony – Do you really think braids > dreadlocks? Even if they are, I think it’s clear that Misty’s epic afro was greater than both! 🙂 As to the jumpsuits, well, I had no emotional connection to those anyway. By the way, did you come up with the title “Blood on the Streets”? It’s very evocative – and totally badass!

    @Christine – Misty announced that she was pregnant in “Immortal Iron Fist” #27, published in August of 2009. Now, you can say she’s not far along in her pregnancy, but we really have no idea how much Marvel time has passed. I’m not suggesting Misty stop doing her job; I am suggesting she not get into huge brawls with ninjas. That’s exactly what she’s doing in “Shadowland” #2. You don’t think that’s a pregnancy risk? Pregnant women are recommended not to go on rollercoasters. I can’t imagine exposing yourself to punches, kicks, shurikens, and swords is appreciably better. (I realize this is not occurring in “Blood on the Streets”.)

  6. Aaron — it’s not a question of braids being “better than” dreads, more one of practicality — dreads take years to grow, for one thing, and are all but impossible to remove without cutting all your hair off. Braids, on the other hand, can be put in and taken out in a day. And actually, I do think they’re better than a ‘fro. I’m trying, at least for this mini, to move Misty away from the blaxploitation figure she’s been for so long and in a more meaningful direction.

    The pregnancy isn’t yet showing, no. It’s Marvel time, whaddyagonnado?

  7. Oh, and yes, I came up with the subtitle, though I was riffing off a suggestion by DD editor Steve Wacker 🙂

  8. I gotta admit braids are better than dreadlocks, sure. The afro is iconic but it always seemed strange that she still had it. Felt like someone should have taken her down this path long ago.

    As for the pregnancy, maybe the baby is protected by a thick gooey membrane of chi…? Y’know, like science in comics, for kids!

  9. “Felt like someone should have taken her down this path long ago.”

    Well, that’s the funniest part — she *has* had braids before, back in IRON FIST. I don’t know whether that was Fraction/Brubaker or the artist, but I always preferred it. Sadly, the change didn’t stick, but the point is that this really isn’t all that new 😉

  10. Hey now, I never said it was NEW. I said it was WORSE. 😉 But, since you bring it up, the only instance I can find in “Immortal Iron Fist” of Misty Knight not sporting her ‘fro was in the “Seven Capital Cities of Heaven” trade, when her hair was cut short. She was rocking the ‘fro everywhere else – and reached absolutely epic levels of frotasticness with Travel Foreman pencilling. I think I like it just because it’s different and she owns it. It should also come as no surprise that I truly wish I could sport a gigantic afro. Alas, life is cruel sometimes.

  11. Huh? I don’t remember the braids in that run, but I do remember Travel Foreman’s damn fine shot of her with the ‘fro at the start of his run with Swierczynski, about the only thing Foreman did exceptionally well on that run.

    Well, here’s hoping Antony can make the change that will finally stick. Or maybe she can flip flop, because I’ve heard of some women actually varying their hair style from time to time. It happens…

  12. First of all, Misty can rock any look, but I happen to like the current one. It’s cute. 🙂

    Secondly, about the whole pregnancy thing. I still think you guys are over-reacting a bit, and I’ll tell you why. I get that pregnant women shouldn’t be carrying heavy objects or take kicks to the stomach, but she hasn’t knowingly done that. We, the readers, know how dangerous Daredevil and everything he’s associated with have become. Misty doesn’t know that yet. Sure, the ninja welcoming committee won’t put anyone at ease, but every single one of the heroes attending the little intervention in Shadowland #2 has completely underestimated the risk involved, and that’s part of the plot.

  13. “Or maybe she can flip flop, because I’ve heard of some women actually varying their hair style from time to time.”

    Precisely!

    I don’t have the IRON FIST issues to hand — I’m on my laptop, not in my study — but now that you mention it, it may not have been braids, just tied back. Either way, it wasn’t the full ‘fro…

    And Christine is right, by the way.

  14. Considering that Luke and Danny witnessed Matt stabbing a man to death and then fought off his chief lieutenant and a cadre of Hand ninjas as they tried to assassinate Matt’s best friend, I think it would be naive of them, Misty, Colleen, or Shang-Chi to think that violence is not a real possibility. What did Matt say to Luke and Danny on the rooftops of “Shadowland” #1? Swear allegiance to the Hand or stay out of the way? Unless they thought he was joking – and has a horrible sense of humor – they must be cognizant of the fact that he’s a little off his rocker. They intentionally left Foggy and Dakota behind *because they were not super-powered and capable of fighting*. I took the heroes’ actions to mean that they hoped for the best, but feared the worst and only brought those who could clearly defend themselves.

    Thus, I think a little concern for Danny and Misty’s unborn child wouldn’t be out of the question. Misty’s not planning to get punched in the stomach, but she is planning on walking into the evil ninja-filled fortress of a crazy man who she has reason to believe is assassinating people quietly throughout the city. ‘Nuff said.

  15. Seems to me like Misty just doesn’t know the typical Marvel Event structure, she was never going to go in there and just talk 😉

    As for over-reacting, Christine, yeah, it’s probably true. My wife is 8 months pregnant right now and I know how much work it is to keep that little fella in there healthy and happy. It’s a complete lifestyle change and I try my best to take my wife out of harms way at all opportunities; no mowing the lawn, no lifting heavy boxes as we prepare to move house, no ninja meeting (not even to just talk) and certainly (and this should not be forgotten) no overly stressful situations. It’s just not worth the risk to us to possibly have a problem, so I can’t wrap my head around why Misty would want to still be involved, nor why Danny would be okay with it. If this is going to become a story element then I think it could be great storytelling but if it’s simply written away that Misty thinks she’ll just be fine and they all agree with her then maybe all the heroes need to read What To Expect When You’re Expecting 🙂 But in the end, pregnancy isn’t something that just happens, you have to be conscious of it at all times and I’d like to think Danny and Misty would be great parents and realise this.

    Damn, now I sound all ranty, certainly not meaning too, perhaps it’s just been on my brain a lot lately…

  16. I think we also all have to remember that this is the Marvel Universe, where even non-superpowered people get punched through brick walls and are back on their feet within 30 seconds. Where a guy built like Luke Cage can leap around rooftops with the practiced ease of a veteran acrobat. And where radioactive goo gives you ESP.

    Believe it or not, we did have quite a long conversation about the pregnancy when planning this series, and like I said before, it will be a factor. But as I also said to Wacker back then, “This isn’t going to turn into Misty’s Swollen Feet & Heartburn Monthly.”

  17. Will “Misty’s Swollen Feet & Heartburn Monthly” be announced any time soon? I need to put that on my pull list at my LCS.

  18. Honestly, after this conversation I’m regretting not pitching it when I had the chance 😉

  19. I know your wife is nearing her due date, Ryan (congrats by the way, though I know I told you as much when you found out all those months ago :)), and my first reaction was to assume that might have something to do with it. It’s perfectly understandable.

    My best friend had her first child three months ago and had her in-laws nagging on her for still riding her bike to work on icy roads while five months pregnant, for fear that she might fall. She found that incredibly annoying, and I can’t even tell you how much she wanted that baby (well, I could but I’d have to divulge her medical history, which I won’t). She still felt very comfortable about taking that kind of risk while being less comfortable taking other risks. Meanwhile, my mom almost rolls her eyes at all the precautions that women are supposed to take these days and jokes that it’s a miracle anyone turned out okay if they were born more than twenty years ago.

    Sadly, I have yet to find a dad for my kids or I’d be busy making them right now (okay, maybe not while typing…), and while I don’t know how I’ll react to one day having a bun in the oven, I’m sure my ninja fighting policy would remain unchanged. 😉 Joking aside, I have pretty bad back problems as it is so I try not to lift heavy things anyway.

    Anyway, I can see where you’re coming from, but I really have zero problems reconciling anything in any of the Shadowland titles with Misty’s pregnancy. Should Danny even be there for fear that the kid might grow up without a father? I think this is one of those times where we have to realize that we’re dealing with a comic book. If superheroes had any damage avoidance instincts at all – or even common sense – they wouldn’t be superheroes to begin with.

    I take bigger issue with the lack of realism stemming from Matt being a lawyer who’s apparently been operating without a computer for the last ten years. 😉

  20. You guys realize this is one of the most commented posts ever on this blog, right? Writers should get their characters pregnant more often to get the fans riled up. Maybe that’s a new theme Marvel should go with for their end-of-event teasers.

  21. I think it’s amazing that folks from four different countries in four different time zones can come together in one place, and at the same time, to discuss whether afros are better than braids and whether exposing yourself to ninja fights in the first trimester is responsible parenting.

    By the way, I just noticed that on the cover to “Blood on the Streets”, Misty Knight is sporting what I will call a “half-ro” – the afro pony-tail. I suppose that’s less blaxploitative than the full-blown afro. You know whose case you should really get on, Antony? Whomever wrote that “Cage Match” one-shot where Luke Cage wore a yellow silk shirt and a tiara. Now, THAT was blaxploitative. 😉

  22. THAT was also set in the past 😉 And yeah, the cover depictions are pretty traditional looks for all the characters. When their names aren’t in the title, you have to make sure readers recognise them on the cover.

  23. For the record, since I’m a 30 year-old male with no kids, I went to my mother for her opinion on pregnancy safety. Here’s the opinion of Christine K, mother of four: “There are always health and well-being dangers posed by ninja attacks. That said, I, as a mother, would stay away from potentially dangerous activities while pregnant. Hence the no drinking alcohol or caffeine, or smoking, or doing drugs. Anything that is done to your body is (potentially) done to your infant’s body in utero. So, yes, it is totally unreasonable for a pregnant woman to put herself in this position if she cares anything at all about her baby.”

    There you have it. Ninja attacks: equally as dangerous as caffeine. You heard it here first.

  24. Oh great, now Old Man Johnston is telling us to suspend our disbelief for his little tale. I’ll have to realign my entire knowledge of cheistry and biology if what he says is true, ha. Guess Misty’s super abs will protect her baby.

    And you know what, after Antony taking the time to discuss this whole ‘issue’ of mine about the pregnancy I’m completely happy with how he’s working it into the story. I have no more fanboy complaints – and i’m not even going to bring up the issue of superheroes being good fathers/mothers by doing dangerour things once the kid is born. My stance would be that while pregnant you don’t go rushing into buildings because you are directly responsible for the life but once the kid is out you can do whatever you like. It’s not nice but it is what it is for protective services so the same should go for superheroes.

    Christine – I think it’s more the writer interraction that lures me back rather than the chance to discuss fictional pregnancy. If Sue Storm suddenly got pregnant I doubt I’d haunt a comment page like this unless Hickman was openly and politely chatting back to fans about the matter, like our good Mr Johnston here is.

    Ooh, do we know; Antony are you sticking around with Daredevil beyond the Shadowland storyline? Thought I might as well try…

  25. Aaron: DD #512 is my last issue on the title. Like I said all along, I just came in to help Andy out; once Shadowland is over, he’ll be able to cope on his own, and I have plenty of my own gigs to worry about 🙂

  26. *Ryan*! I meant Ryan, sorry. Too many Ks floating around here…!

  27. Guys, I think you are all forgetting about Marvel Team-Up #134 (1983), featuring Spider-Man and Misty Knight. In it, after a terrible injury, Misty gets a bionic uterus implanted*, which I am sure is protecting the baby from all those hazardous ninja-related situations.

    I’ll take my No-Prize now!

    *This might or might have not happened

  28. Holy crap, Christine, Antony Johnston is commenting on your blog! That is a whole new level of awesome.

    So it’s weeks later, but my comic book store just got this issue back in stock, so I checked it out based on your recommendation (and the existence of a heated discussion), and you were right, it’s really good! I don’t know ANY of these characters, but I liked the detective story set-up. It was a breeze to read; it flowed very well. I was actually impressed, honestly, with how easy it was to follow when I didn’t know the characters. I’m looking forward to the rest of the mini, and this is one I would consider buying in trade.

    I’m not touching the controversial pregnancy and hairstyle topics!

  29. YARR!!! Thar be spoilers ahead, ye matey!

    Returning to our beaten horse, I’m even more confused about the treatment of Misty’s pregnancy. In a very, very short piece in I AM AN AVENGER #1, it is revealed that Danny’s chi gave Misty a “false positive” on her pregnancy test. Apparently, this has happened before in the annals of the Iron Fists. All my concern for the sake of Misty’s fetus is thereby wasted, though it does suggest that Misty was probably less than 18 to 20 weeks along; I figure the first ultrasound would have left few doubts there was no baby. (I do believe, though, that when dealing with super-powered people and babies, reasonably cautious parents would go to Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, etc., to check out the baby’s health at the earliest possible date.) I find it a little strange that IMMORTAL IRON FIST develops a strong relationship between Misty and Danny, they get pregnant and move in together, and then this is mostly eliminated in a 3-page anthology story years later.

    Antony, if you’re still around, was it known to you while writing BOTS that Misty and Danny would “lose” their baby and end up moving out of their shared apartment?

  30. I’m on the road, so excuse brevity:

    Aaron, I only found out about the IAAA story after I’d finished writing BOTS #4, and by then it was already written and scheduled, so there was no way to delay its publication till after BOTS was finished. All I can do is ask everyone to try and put it out of their minds while reading the rest of BOTS…

  31. We really need to give Antony a pass on this one. I’m sure the Swierczynski tale is just set after the events of Shadowland, perhaps. It’s one of those scheduling things you just can’t avoid sometimes.

    I will, however, being the Swierczynski acolyte that I am, defer to the IAAA tale for the definitive pregnancy discussion but it won’t stop me enjoying BOTS at all.

    Antony, thanks for answering Aaron’s question, you’re still a legend.

  32. Both Antony and Ryan seem to think I was being critical (of the lack of continuity or something?) when I asked whether Antony had prior knowledge. I was just curious because it would color the impact of any pregnancy-related events in BOTS if he knew it would be undone. I assumed IAAA came later; I just wanted to know whether the creators writing Misty got together with a master plan or whether two individuals just independently wanted to address this issue — and did so rather differently.

    Personally, I find the “false postive” bit a little cheap and forced. Why have Misty and Danny get pregnant and move in if the very next time we see the pair they are un-pregnant and moving out? That didn’t go very far. Didn’t Swierczynski write both? It just seems odd.

  33. Oh no, Aaron, certainly not critical. Sorry I gave that impression.

    I agree it’s a bit of a cop out, seems like Swierczynski had a fair bit of cool stuff planned for Danny and Misty but once the title got cancelled I guess it seemed easier for Misty as a character to just not stay pregnant. I guess it’s at least nice they gave Swierczynski the chance to be the one to undo it all instead of getting someone else to write it all off in some other title.

    Misty pregnant in the Iron Fist title would have been awesome, I felt like it was really building up, but I guess no one else wanted to run with it. A shame, really, I loved Swierczynski’s run and am bummed it never returned.

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