Review of Shadowland #5 and Daredevil #512

by | Dec 2, 2010 | Commentary, Ongoing Reviews | 36 comments

Cover to Shadowland #5

Shadowland and the main Daredevil title came to an end today and this post is my chance to reflect on what happened during these final events and on what inevitable comes next. I won’t provide a score for this review (I’m not sure people find my scores that helpful anyway since I’ve only ever graded one issue – Shadowland #3 incidentally – below a 5.0/10) because I honestly feel that throwing numbers into the mix won’t really add much to what I wanted to say.

This review will contain heavy spoilers. Daredevil #512 is meant to be read after Shadowland #5 – it was originally slated to come out a week later – and I can’t discuss Daredevil without giving away what happens in Shadowland, just as I can’t discuss the future without giving away what happens in Daredevil #512. If you haven’t read these issues and want to wait to find out what happens don’t read beyond the cut. If you have, feel free to dive in and please join the discussion I’m sure will erupt in the comment section.

Cover to Daredevil #512

To those who will be leaving us now (to go to your local comic book store to pick up these issues), I’ll say a temporary good-bye with this little teaser: I finally get the premise of Shadowland. I get what Andy Diggle wanted to do. Shadowland #5 definitely suffers from some of the same issues that has plagued the entire event, a storyline that maybe shouldn’t have been relegated to an event title to begin with (and one which I still feel was poorly executed and difficult for a Daredevil fan to accept), but it arrives at a destination that fills me with hope. It’s like taking a roller-coaster ride to a nice vacation. You’re not sorry you went, but you’re wishing you could have gone in an airplane and spared yourself the motion sickness. Make sense? If you don’t mind the spoilers, come with me and let’s dissect this puppy a little further.

<--------------SPOILERS BELOW-------------->

Matt Murdock lives! This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone – even though we all know that, in comics, death is more like a nasty bug that people recover from than a final state of being – and I knew it for a fact before even opening the first page. I had gradually come to suspect that Diggle wouldn’t actually go down that road, and he confirmed as much himself when I had the chance to talk to him at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds.

Panel from Shadowland #5, by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan

With that part of the mystery out of the way, and my already being geared up for January’s Daredevil: Reborn, I approached these final two issues as just sort of the final roadblock to the new fresh start I knew was waiting for Matt Murdock in 2011. I didn’t expect to enjoy either Shadowland #5 or Daredevil #512 to the extent that I did, and I was positively surprised by the emotional punch that even the end to the thus-far action heavy Shadowland title managed to pack.

That’s not to say that the basic premise of Shadowland doesn’t continue to be very problematic for me. We’ve still had half of Manhattan running wild because Matt Murdock – one of the most grounded characters in the Marvel Universe – is channeling a demonic beast. It is a hard pill to swallow. Delivered with more subtlety (something which possibly could have been accomplished in the main title), this premise could have worked well, as this issue shows once it gets past the big final battle scene which takes up the first half of the issue. For the first time in months, we get to meet the real Matt Murdock again, and the scene where his true self begins to show trough once again and he begs his former love Elektra to kill him is even quite moving.

Daredevil begging Elektra to kill him, from Shadowland #5

This scene is followed by a journey into Matt’s subconscious which is beautifully illustrated by Billy Tan and shows Matt as a young boy set against a black background. He confronts both his parents as they likely appear to the more self-loathing aspects of his psyche and is then compelled by Elektra to take his own life. It’s not clear to me to what extent this “suicide” represents a sort of psychic death, but to his friends it is clear that he’s still alive, just barely.

While Elektra attends to Matt somewhere off-panel, the Kingpin and Lady Bullseye step back into the wreckage to take over the still standing fortress. This gives Diggle the chance to revisit the old connection between the fat guy and Typhoid Mary who turns out to be as unstable and easy to manipulate as ever. These scenes don’t really do it for me, as the Kingpin’s involvement in this event has felt ever so slightly tacked on to the main plot. I also wonder how the Kingpin’s future together with what appears to be the more legitimate main branch of the Hand will be handled, but I suppose that’s something that could be dealt with in other books.

Typhoid Mary greets the Kingpin, from Shadowland #5

So, what happens to Matt? As far as anyone (except maybe Elektra) knows, he’s dropped completely off-radar. We, on the other hand, see him seek comfort in the only place that makes sense as he quietly slips into a church to confess his sins. It’s a good ending to what can only be seen as a very rocky journey and takes us right into the events of Daredevil #512.

In Daredevil’s own title, we don’t get to meet Matt again until the very end. Instead, we see Diggle – now joined by Antony Johnston – connect loose ends and spend some much needed time with Matt’s friends and co-workers. We see Foggy be as loyal as ever to a guy who just almost killed him, and Becky is clearly fed up with both the drama and Foggy’s obsessive loyalty to his friend. She suggests that Foggy go into practice on his own as soon as he gets his disbarment lifted.

We then check in with the Kingpin strengthening his power over the Hand before cutting to Matt’s old friends Luke Cage and Iron Fist who are out on the town after nightfall, reminiscing about the now absent Daredevil, when they catch sight of a figure they believe to be him. This figure turns out to be the Black Panther and I have to give some credit to the writers for managing to make the segue into T’Challa’s reign over Hell’s Kitchen seems as natural as could possibly be expected by using the two heroes’ relative similarity in appearance.

Fans of the Black Tarantula will be happy to see Dakota chase him down in the Night Nurse’s clinic (and hey, good to see Night Nurse again!), very much alive. We’re also reacquainted with Detective Kurtz who is given the task of hunting down Daredevil and bringing him to justice, something he appears surprisingly ambivalent about. True, he and Daredevil had some kind of relationship, but the guy did almost succeed in making the great city of New York a whole lot less inhabitable.

Finally, we catch up with Matt again, stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere, beginning a journey that will continue in Daredevil: Reborn come this January, and I’m feeling a great deal of relief seeing my favorite guy back to being himself. True, he’s a mess and he’s broken and hurting, but he’s not longer possessed and that’s good reason to cheer.

It’s pretty clear that the events of these to issues have gone a long way to wiping the slate relatively clean for Daredevil and Joe Quesada even tells us as much in a special Shadowland Cup O’ Joe, printed in Shadowland #5:

“[…] so, with SHADOWLAND, we wanted to wipe the slate clean – or in this case, burn it to a cinder. But fear not fellow fans of ol’ hornhead – the saga of the Man Without Fear and his home of Hell’s Kitchen is far, far from over, which should come as no surprise given the level of talent that went into orchestrating Matt Murdock’s downfall in the pages of SHADOWLAND.”

So, Shadowland is over and I think I’m not the only Daredevil fan to draw as big sigh of relief that Matt is still in one piece. And, judging by the kind of journey he necessarily must make in the coming months, odds are very high that the roller coaster ride of the last few months will turn into something a lot less jarring and with much better scenery. About a year ago, Andy Diggle promised he wouldn’t break my favorite toy, a promise he did actually deliver on (with very little margin to spare). But man, does our favorite red-headed blind guy need a good wind-up. 😉 Let’s hope he finally gets it.

Note that CBR has an exclusive preview for Shadowland: After the Fall up. I will also add some panels from Daredevil #512 tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.


  1. Two-Bit Specialist

    So basically Shadowland served to undo Brubaker’s run by having Matt be no longer the leader of the Hand.

    We’re back to square one again. I shouldn’t be surprised, though.

  2. Christine

    Basically? Yes, except that he’s setting himself up for some real catharsis. On the other hand, considering how it didn’t make perfect sense to make him head of the Hand to begin with, and considering that things could be much worse, I’m still pleased with how things turned out in the end.

  3. Robert

    “fellow fans of ol’ hornhead – the saga of the Man Without Fear and his home of Hell’s Kitchen is far, far from over, which should come as no surprise given the level of talent that went into orchestrating Matt Murdock’s downfall in the pages of SHADOWLAND.”

    I saw no talent on display in Shadowland. I only saw an editorially mandated piece of garbage that was the anti-thesis to everything that made Daredevil one of the best books on the market for the last decade, and it dragged the Daredevil book down to the toilet with it.

    Daredevil’s slate didn’t need to be wiped clean. That slate won several Eisner awards over the last decade. Daredevil could have easily been “fixed” without being destroyed.

    This was a massive failure. I said before and I’ll say again, I can’t see how any new reader would read this garbage and want to ever read another Daredevil story. the only reason it sold well is because it featured Spidey, Wolverine, Punisher, etc in big, flashy, and pointless fights throughout and fanboys will buy anything with that in it.

  4. Jeremy

    So I can come back to reading Matt Murdock stories again nest year?

  5. Aaron K

    Quesada’s afterword reminded me of similar statements surrounding Spider-Man and “Brand New Day”, i.e., it was a story that needed to be told to put the character in a position for long-term success by opening up new story avenues. Going into SHADOWLAND though, I did not have that vibe at all. I almost wish I had known going in that this was a story aimed in part (maybe very, very large part?) at setting up a new status quo — and therefore it should not necessarily be judged only on its own merits. Or maybe I’m just putting words into the mouths of Quesada and those associated with DAREDEVIL.

    P.S. Carlos LaMuerto looked exactly like a well-tanned Tony Stark.

  6. Logan

    Really after reading the two issues I felt like this was in a similar vein to what’s been happening to Bruce Wayne over at DC. I suspect that Matt’s journey will bring him to a new and healthier place mentally. What I hope to see is an end to the “how bad can we make Matt’s life?” competition between authors and hopefully get to see some really new and original stories for Daredevil.

  7. Robert

    I also loved how all the “heroes” who were chomping at the bit to take down or out right kill their “friend” Matt, just shrugged their shoulders and walked away when Kingpin took over. Even ones like Wolverine and Punisher were suddenly like “okay lets just leave the body of one of the worst killers ever in this giant temple in the middle of our city controlled by assassins who love to resurrect people.” I don’t know who’s more stupid in this anymore. The characters, the writers, or comics fans in general. Sadly I know the answer.

    So happy I didn’t pay to read this garbage.

  8. Two-Bit Specialist

    Robert – OK, first of all, I bought the whole mini and all 5 DD issues, and so did Christine. Those that makes us stupid? You at some point entertained that thought, and I for one don’t appreciate that.

    Also, did you byrne these issues? Because you say you didn’t pay for them, yet you seem to know what is going on. What would John Byrne think? 😉

    And is it shown that Bullseye was simply left behind? Maybe he was taken away off-panel. If anything, I was worried Ghost Rider was simply left hanging, but I know he’ll be back in Heroes for Hire, which I’m actually pretty excited about.

    I, too, was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying these last issues. My favorite had to be in Shadowland #5, where Matt is afraid and Elektra tells him to “Be a man… without fear.” I thought that was great.

  9. Robert

    I was talking about all of us, myself included. I bought all the issues too, except the last two issues of Shadowland. I read those two issues (in about 2 minutes, certainly not worth $4) and put them back on the shelf. I bought two other books (non-Marvel, that I don’t usually buy) from my friend who runs the local shop, so I wouldn’t feel like I was ripping him off. Marvel can kiss it though. I know thats twisted logic. I could have said I read spoilers online, but I’m being honest.

    Also I was trying to build on my earlier point about Shadowland selling so much because of fans buying anything with Spidey and Wolvie. I’ve been collecting comics for almost 20 years. A large portion of comic fans are some sick puppies and thats who the companies are catering to again. The lowest common denominator. And my favorite character has been dragged down to it. Daredevil was the book I could hold up to people as an example of how comics weren’t just tits and spandex and 2 dimensional villains and cheesy stories for 14 yr olds.

  10. Two-Bit Specialist

    I see what you mean. Personally, I only bought them initially because TOMP and the Weekly Crisis hyped it up so much at the beginning I had to see what it was all about.

    I’m also one of those guys who wasn’t following Spider-man because of BND and thought X-men was too convoluted.

  11. Christine

    I’m sorry if you feel that I hyped you out of some hard-earned cash, Two-Bit. 😉 I was very optimistic about this event, and since I’m generally a glass half-full kind of person it took until the third issue before I decided that Shadowland really wasn’t working for me. Still, I know many of you probably think I’m too kind to the comics I review. I guess it’s just that I’m always looking for something to like, some redeeming factor that gives me a good enough reason to overlook the flaws.

    Shadowland #5 doesn’t, by any stretch of the word, “fix” this event for me, but the relatively high-note it ended on at least fixes some of the flaws of this particular issue and has me optimistic about Daredevil: Reborn (and, as you know, I saw plenty of stunning preview art when I was in Leeds that literally made my jaw drop). I’m not the kind of person to hold a grudge (not that I would ever actually hold a personal grudge against a writer, that seems both petty and borderline unhealthy) and am gladly willing to move on from stories I wasn’t too happy with so long as they haven’t really screwed up the character.

    Right now, all I really care about is what comes next and I know that Diggle is perfectly capable of writing engaging stories, especially when not held hostage by a format – i.e. a cross-over event – that inevitable forces the writer to conform to certain predetermined conventions.

    My only fear is that Marvel will look at Shadowland’s relative commercial success (and the fact that it appears to have appealed to people who wouldn’t normally read something like Daredevil) and decide that Daredevil could be successful as more of a typical mainstream superhero book. We have enough of those already (and I’m not saying they’re all bad, I even read a few of them myself). I hope the adventures of Matt Murdock will continue to be something that even people who don’t ordinarily read superhero comics can enjoy. I suspect this is a topic I’ll have reason to return to in the coming days.

  12. Robert

    “My only fear is that Marvel will look at Shadowland’s relative commercial success (and the fact that it appears to have appealed to people who wouldn’t normally read something like Daredevil) and decide that Daredevil could be successful as more of a typical mainstream superhero book.”

    This terrifies me also. Marvel doesn’t have a track record of leaving well enough alone. What are the odds of another event/crossover involving Daredevil and Black Panther: The Gimmick Without Point (and of course Wolvie and crew) when Marvel hits the reset button next year or in 2012?

  13. Fred

    They blew a golden opportunity. It would have been fun to slowly, but naturally turn daredevil into a villain / criminal mastermind. This unnatural quick change was poor writing. Watching his torment at making exceedingly evil decisions could have been quite the ride, eventually showing daredevil as a villain fighting against heroes in their books, and plotting against them with the Hand. They could eventually undo it all of course, but what a ride it would have been.

  14. krakkaboom

    “Right now, all I really care about is what comes next and I know that Diggle is perfectly capable of writing engaging stories, especially when not held hostage by a format – i.e. a cross-over event – that inevitable forces the writer to conform to certain predetermined conventions.”

    I know that if you know the answer, you probably aren’t at liberty to answer this question, but I have to ask it, Christine. Have you asked Diggle if his initial pitch for the Shadowland arc was pitched as an event or if Marvel’s editors forced Shadowland into an event? I have next to no respect for any of Marvel’s editors, and tend to believe that this botched event was an editorial mandate. Had they let Diggle and Johnston tell the story without the lackluster event title, it would have been a much more enjoyable read.

    As for Shadowland #5 and Daredevil #512, I told myself before reading them not to get angry if I didn’t like the end result. It turns out that they weren’t as bad as I had feared. I actually enjoyed them to a certain extent. I’m not sure how much of it was because I was glad that the event was over, or if I genuinely liked the content. I did like how it wrapped up, as it didn’t destroy the character. The scene with Matt at the church confessing his sins and the subsequent scene with Matt on the bus in Arizona are the kind of scenes that make Daredevil great. The morality battle that all of us inevitably face as human beings. That’s what resonates with me.

    Shadowland undid Brubaker’s run just like One More Day undid Spidey and MJ’s marriage.

    The Shadowland mini turned out to be an extrapolated waste of money, in my opinion. Tan’s art was jarring and made the event feel disjointed as his style is nothing like what we’ve come to expect from a Daredevil artist. Imagine if Maleev was the artist for the Shadowland mini. Issue #5 was the only quality issue. I still maintain that Billy Tan is a poor man’s David Finch. The best piece of art that Tan turned in for Shadowland was the first teaser image, the rest was passable:

    That said, I did enjoy the Daredevil issues during the event. The art was gritty, moody, and overall it was fantastic as it set the tone for the story nicely. Also, the involvement of the supporting cast was interesting. Black Tarantula is such a great character to have as a member of the Daredevil family. I would love to see Diggle and Johnston continue to utilize him, and to that end, White Tiger as well.

    Hopefully Marvel doesn’t re-number the Daredevil title, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Christine

      @krakkaboom: Yes, I did talk to Diggle about this (well, we touched on the subject), but I don’t feel at liberty to say anything beyond that. As far as my statement above goes, that’s pretty much a given when it comes to how events are written and I can’t think of any event title I’ve read that hasn’t felt constrained by the format itself. What I can say about my talk with Diggle is that he seemed super excited about Reborn and from what he told me about it (and the awesome preview art I saw), I share that sentiment. I’m really very much looking forward to it.

      Regarding the other things you mentioned, I don’t particularly mind that Shadowland undid what Brubaker did as far as making Matt leader of the Hand. The way I see it is that 1) Matt as leader of the Hand could have been a very interesting concept to explore and 2) Shadowland failed to capitalize on its own premise (and failed miserably in its ability to match the quality of the issues leading into it). However, I must admit that the logic of putting Matt in charge of the Hand to begin with was always a little shaky to me. It wasn’t until issue #500 rolled around that I came to accept that, yes, under those circumstances Matt would accept (why the Hand would want Matt for the job was left for Diggle to address). Up until that point, there was plenty of confusion on my part regarding everyone’s motivations for getting Matt to accept this position which I expressed here and elsewhere. I enjoyed the Brubaker run a great deal, but where many people felt that things turned around for them in a positive way with the start of the Lady Bullseye arc, I felt the opposite.

      I also agree with you that the main Daredevil title has been a much better read than Shadowland which has been a source of frustration in a lot of ways and the main reason why I feel the event format was such a huge mistake. As you mention, the art has been much better in the Daredevil title as well.

  15. MC Nedelsky

    Totally agree with Fred. And your point as well that it could have been done in the main book – but then, that would mean less sales.

    Main question – wasn’t there supposed to be some reckoning between Ghost Rider and the Kingpin? And what happened to Moon Knight, who just was hanging out in Shadowland #3 then disappeared? Maybe these were answered in the spin-offs, but the big argument of the editors is you don’t need the spin-offs to know what’s going on.

  16. Gloria

    having finally laid hands on both issues, I have got to say that, time before Shadowland, I used to think that it was good that Great Events usually left ol’ hornhead out, as I felt that these editorially-mandated happenings seriously disrrupted other characters’ collections. So when Shadowland was announced, I suspected the worst.

    That opinion has been reassured as the series has ended. I think that Big Events really don’t go with Daredevil.

    Personally, I would have liked to have Matt as leader of the hand for longer: don’t misunderstand me, but a slower build-up of Murdock’s corruption, while he was threading an increasingly darker area of grey, trying to rein the Hand with his best intentions in mind… Instead we got a somewhat surprising demonic possession, and that threw me out of the curb quite a bit: Didn’t master Izo see that coming? OK, the guy drinks a lot, but still I thought he was wiser than that.

    Still, as the series ends, we’ve got an interesting scenario to look forward: From the literal ashes, most any character in DD has to re-build his/her life, And Matt finds himself in a Nocenti-era like crossroads, all of this could give good stories in the near future, if properly handed.

    Damn, poor Foggy! But Becky is essentially right: He should look forward from now on (i just hope he steers well away from Rosalind “Razor” Sharpe.

  17. Colin Bell

    There’s some good points all round here, but I don’t doubt for a second that anyone has purposefully set out to make a less than enjoyable comic, and I think overall Shadowland holds up better read in one sitting.

    I’m genuinely looking forward to what’s in store, and I go on about it a bit here:

  18. Ryan K Lindsay

    Man, Shadowland hasn’t retconned Brubaker’s run in the slightest. It doesn’t affect any of it except the very last page of brubaker’s run, and that was the next writer’s option to run with that decision however they liked. It’s like saying Brubaker OMD’d Bendis’ run once he got Murdock out of jail. That’s just silly. Daredevil was never going to be the leader of the Hand forever.

    After reading the Quesada afterward in Shadowland you do get the feeling that this was pretty heavily mandated by editors which does make it interesting to note how much of this Diggle put in himeslf and how much was guided. I’d love to hear him speak about it at some stage.

    I agree that this was a completely missed opportunity. This idea could have been played with for quite some time but was instead rushed, which cost quality. Such a shame.

  19. krakkaboom

    Maybe I shouldn’t have said it undid his run, but he’s no longer leader of The Hand, which seemed to be part of the goal of Shadowland. So, it undid his leadership of The Hand. I don’t mind that they did it, I was merely pointing it out.

    I look forward to Reborn. I just hope that Marvel thinks twice the next time they want to shove Daredevil into the spotlight for a sales bump. If they do it again, they need to let the writer(s) tell the story instead of back-seat writing the event for them, because when they meddle in the stories, they end up suffering.

  20. MC Nedelsky

    It occurred to me reading these comments that in the current Marvel mindset, a storyline like “Out” would have been a mini-event. It touched multiple characters and had them come into the story. So too did the (admittedly brief) tenure of Matt as the Kingpin. But both these stories were much better contained within the series. Shadowland would have been better as a 12 or even 18 maxi arc across the whole series.

    Can someone explain what happened to Moon Knight in the middle of Shadowland and Ghost Rider v. Kingpin?

  21. krakkaboom

    “Can someone explain what happened to Moon Knight in the middle of Shadowland and Ghost Rider v. Kingpin?”

    They had to catch a bus to their mini-series to leave the reader baffled and confused. It was very abrupt and left the reader wondering what happened. They could have included the Cliff’s Notes version of what happened to them, but instead, they just vanished without a trace. I understand that they’re dangling the carrot so you’ll pick up the minis, but I’m guessing the majority of the people who bought Shadowland were disappointed with the event, and as a result, passed on most, if not all of the extraneous minis.

  22. Typhiod Marius

    Horrible ending and horrible art in Shadowland #5. I thought at some point the supposed “hero” of this book would provide for the big save at the end (the psychic suicide is BS). You’d think that at some point Matt would have been aware of his possession and taken some steps to have a back up plan. Perhaps Diggle wanted to make the point Matt is not Bruce Wayne. He doesnt have a plan for everything, he’s more of a scrapper, which is fine but I just didnt get that in this ARC. At the end his friends saved his ass.

  23. Bee Clayton

    #512 was a nice wrap-up to the event. I just hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Kurtz, Daktota, Carlos, and even Becky.

  24. krakkaboom

    Proof that Marvel editors ruined Shadowland before it began: “So the idea that they were trying to trick Matt into becoming a vessel for the Beast was one of the first things I came up with. It never occurred to me that it would be a big separate crossover event,” Diggle continued “‘Shadowland’ was really just going to be an arc of my regular run on the title. And what has become ‘Daredevil Reborn’ is simply the way I always intended to end my run. Again, it’s become a separate miniseries, but really, as far as I’m concerned, it’s all one big story. I don’t worry too much about what title they slap on the front cover.”

    From CBR:

  25. Aaron K

    @krakkaboom – I come away from that article with a different message: there’s blame to go around. The decision to make Shadowland an event probably did not help it, but we already knew that had to be an editorial decision before this interview. Diggle here takes credit for the possession idea, and I think that was perhaps the weakest part of the story. But, what I hadn’t really considered before is that Diggle was tasked with coming up with a reason *why* Matt was named Shogun of the Hand in the first place. I have commented elsewhere on this board about why it seemed silly that Matt had to be the one to serve as vessel for the Beast (as opposed to anyone else), but I never really considered what the alternatives were for Diggle when he had to pick up Brubaker’s pieces.

    Perhaps the problem with Shadowland was that Brubaker left this series in a horribly awkward position: there was simply no good reason that Matt should ever have been asked to take over the Hand. Because of that, whatever Diggle came up with was going to displease a lot of readers. While I don’t think Diggle’s answer to the question “Why Matt?” was satisfactory (since it wasn’t Matt-specific), there may not have been any really good answers at all. While Brubaker’s run may be my favorite DD run of all time, it may be the case that he left the book in a position where it could not immediately succeed, regardless of what writer took the reins.

  26. krakkaboom

    You make valid points, for sure. I wouldn’t want to take over a long-running ongoing that was left in a pickle like Diggle did. I think he did a decent job, considering. Could it have been better? Sure. There were missed opportunities to tell a very intricate story, but the easy way out was taken instead. I think he did the best he could, given the situation.

    Story-related points aside, I wanted a definitive answer about how the story arc turned into an event. The fact that Marvel’s editorial staff turned it into an event when it didn’t need to be opened the door for scrutiny and made it more difficult to make the story coherent, let alone interesting and/or compelling.

  27. Robert

    I really disagree with the people suggesting Brubaker left Diggle or anyone with a difficult place to start from. I was becoming bored with DD as Brubakers run was winding down (as good as it was). Then he dropped the bomb: Matt Murdock is taking control of the Hand. I was excited. My mind was racing with all the infinite possibilities that presented, and hoped that Marvel would have the guts to actually run with it. But much like Peter Parker unmasking, they didn’t have the balls to try anything new or as I said “run with it”. So again marvel just stumbles about and hits the re-set button.
    Matt Murdock as the leader of the Hand could have been a good 4 or 5 years worth of great stories in the hands of a writer and editors who gave a damn. But apparently Diggle’s big idea when he took over was rebooting the last character that needed any sort of reboot, and Marvel decided to make a stupid, vapid, and hollow event out of it.

  28. Aaron K

    @Robert – There’s an important difference between a story arc having exciting potential and a story arc being coherent. While I agree the former was true, the latter was not. Diggle was presented with coming up with a *reason* why the Hand would want Matt as their shogun. That was the difficult situation I think Brubaker left him in. Sure, Diggle could have chosen to write many interesting Hand-related tales, but they all would have similarly suffered from the fact that there was, at the end of the day, no good reason for Matt to be leading the Hand in the first place!

    By analogy, I think Black Panther protecting Hell’s Kitchen has great potential for interesting stories. But, there’s little in the way of good reason/motive/justification for T’Challa to be specifically in Hell’s Kitchen at this exact moment (as opposed to a thousand other places where he wouldn’t need forged identification papers that he procured from Foggy of all people!) An interesting idea has to have a believable justification.

    What justification did Brubaker give to the next writer for why the Hand had chosen Matt?

  29. Robert

    Matt Murdock, like Elektra, was one of only two “adepts” alive at the moment. This is from The Man Without Fear. The Hand wanted Matt for the same reason they wanted Elektra
    Izo’s whole plan as presented by Brubaker was that Matt could turn the Hand back to the force of good it was hundreds of years ago when it was created.

    Frank Miller and Ed Brubaker gave Diggle all the setup he needed.

  30. AP

    “Matt Murdock, like Elektra, was one of only two “adepts” alive at the moment. This is from The Man Without Fear. The Hand wanted Matt for the same reason they wanted Elektra
    Izo’s whole plan as presented by Brubaker was that Matt could turn the Hand back to the force of good it was hundreds of years ago when it was created.

    Frank Miller and Ed Brubaker gave Diggle all the setup he needed.”


  31. Aaron K

    @Robert & AP – I fear I am verging — again — into the realm of repeating myself on this blog, but I’ll try once more.

    First, the canonical status of DD: The Man Without Fear is at least questionable. I happen to come down on the side that it’s not canon. The notion of mystical predestination doesn’t sit easily with Daredevil’s “grounded” nature. And the substantial number of changes to the story are hard to simply wave away.

    Second, even assuming that Matt and Elektra are the only two adepts around (and that was only to Stick & Stone’s knowledge when Matt was a kid), that does not automatically make them good (or even reasonable) choices to *lead* the Hand. Look what happened with Elektra! Just because Matt is an adept doesn’t mean that an organization of killers-for-hire would ever consider him for their leader. He’s a good guy and their devoted enemy! He’s a staunch ally of the Chaste! Unless the Hand were looking to go legitimate, it’s a silly move to make. I won’t deny that it may have been wise to attempt to recruit Matt (as they did with Elektra), but to offer him leadership was just foolish *unless* they were setting him up, as Diggle went with. As a member, Matt could be turned to the Hand; as their leader, Matt could turn the Hand away from their roots.

    Consider: absent a motive to infuse Matt with the spirit of the Beast, what did the Hand expect Matt to do once he accepted the position of leader? Take on more killing contracts? Recruit more mystical, evil ninja killers? Expand their other criminal enterprises? Consolidate their frayed membership under a brutal, iron fist? OR, more likely, either turn the Hand into a superhero force or attempt to dismantle the Hand from the inside? Why would the Hand leadership want either of the last two options?

    It’d be like electing Lenin President of the United States hoping to win him over to democratic republicanism. What’s going to happen instead is that Lenin would use his power to move the United States to a Marxist state. That’s what strong, principled people do when in power: they try to make the world better!

    Having said that, once the offer was made, I do think it was sensible of Izo and Matt to accept that offer and attempt to turn it to their advantage. But, the problem is not on their end; it’s on the Hand’s end.

  32. Bee Clayton

    #500 remains one of the best comics I’ve read in recent years simply because of that ending. The potential to go in a completely different (yet previously hinted at over the years) direction infused the title and character with new energy and focus.

    Mayhaps the mystical connection of some uber-destiny doesn’t sit well, but there’s no denying that, for whatever reasons, both the Chaste and the Hand have taken exceptional interest in both Matt and Elektra over the years.

    Aaron, you’ve made some good points over why the Hand would be foolish to want or even consider Matt as their leader.

    But perhaps they saw their finest opportunity instead. Maybe they believed all the recent guilt and tragedy Matt has endured (which now seems obligatory) would make him more tempted by their offer. There’s (apparently) always been a darkness within Matt so perhaps they were betting on bringing that darkness to bear.

    That’s the best thing I’ve enjoyed about Shadowland, learning some of the history of the Hand (who in my mind have always been for years, nothing more than ninja fodder for both Matt and Logan). The newly-discovered link between the Hand and Ghost Rider, Izo’s tantalizing comments on the group’s origins and purpose, how the organization is set up and so on.

    Heck, Izo even blinded himself so there may be some form of metaphor or symbolism here about Matt leading the Hand towards the Light only to be felled by his own inner darkness.

    The future seemed so bright after #500……now I’m just bummed and waiting to see how Matt returns.

  33. Robert

    “The Man Without Fear” unfortunately may not be official “canon”, but many of its story elements, including the adept stuff has been used by many other writers over the years. its not like that is the only time it was brought up.

    I looked at issue 500 like the Star Wars story Dark Empire. Only much more complex. Luke Skywalker was trying to defeat the dark side from within it and fell victim to it.
    Matt was at his lowest point ever. Izo was manipulating him to take over.
    Matt thought better himself than the Kingpin.
    The Hand knew he was at the breaking point and thought they could break him and make him theirs.
    The struggle for Matt Murdock’s soul could have been epic, but nope he’s possessed by a saturday morning cartoon villain from the 80s and now were gonna hit reset.

  34. themattmurdockchronicles

    Just finished reading these this weekend (I know, I’m slow). I won’t comment on DD 512 as I’ll do that on my own blog eventually – in about three years time, to be exact.

    However, what I will say about Shadowland is that, at least, the ending wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Given that Marvel has had a tendency lately to ‘kill’ major characters and then later resurrect them, I thought that this would be on the cards here. I’m really glad Andy avoided the whole Matt getting whacked and then resurrected in one of those Hand ceremony thingies that Elektra et al have been subjected to. At least that was a surprise.

    I know you don’t like mentioning it, Christine, but I did like the whole Irish Catholic guilt/penance thing right at the end of the book. Kinda made me smile.


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