Event Fatigue: Shadowland

Shadowland #1
Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Billy Tan

Daredevil #508
Written by Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston
Art by Robert de la Torre

A few months ago if you had told me I would be excited to read the new issues of Daredevil I would have said you were nuts. Daredevil has been one of those characters that never clicked with me, not even the critically acclaimed Frank Miller run or Bendis’ over 100 issues on the series. Blind lawyer vigilante just never appealed. However, Andy Diggle’s current run on the character seems like a shift towards a very interesting change in the fundamental aspects of Daredevil. The once by the books lawyer has abandonded the law in favor of pure street justice and has walled in Hell’s Kitchen, turning into Shadowland, his realm under his protection. And those who get in his way will die.

It began with Norman Osborn. The former Green Goblin assumed control of America’s top security forces after saving the world from an alien invasion and some epic PR. Put in charge of SHIELD, renamed HAMMER, Osborn set out to turn New York’s heroes into criminals in the eyes of the public. HAMMER agents were told to target an tenement in Hell’s Kitchen labeled as a hiding place of the notorious ninja clan known as The Hand. The building was firebombed and 100 innocent people were killed. Daredevil blamed himself for not being able to protect his fellow residents of the Kitchen and pledged himself to The Hand, his long time enemies. They promoted him to the leader of the clan, over all else, and along with his lieutenants Black Tarantula and White Tiger they drove the NYPD from his kingdom. Unbeknownst to Daredevil, the other leadership in The Hand are pushing him down this path in an effort to unleash a level of power their group has never experienced. In the background Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin is slowly reassembling his crime cartel after being released from a long stay in prison.

The events of these first two parts finds Luke Cage and Iron Fist, two fellow street level heroes venturing into Shadowland to talk to Daredevil, who has distanced himself in the preceding months. What they find is that he is unwelcoming to any interference. Just around this time, Daredevil’s arch nemesis Bullseye arrives, newly escaped from a prison transport. How Daredevil deals with his longtime enemy shows Cage and Iron Fist just how different their old friend is. Foggy Nelson, Daredevil’s former law partner and Dakota North, a private eye and former lover of Daredevil, drive to the borders of Shadowland but are stopped by White Tiger and some Hand agents. As the two leave they are attacked and their card explodes due to a masked archer on the rooftops. Needless to say things are getting worse and worse in Hell’s Kitchen.

The idea of making Daredevil a villainous figure is very intriguing to me, and the main reason I have started reading this current run of the series. The blind superhero part of Daredevil/Matt Murdock has always been a yawn for me. What is more interesting is the fact that he is/was a lawyer. How does a man who has devoted himself to the law justify vigilantism to himself. The Shadowland story is revealing how years of tragedy (the murders of Elektra and Karen Page first and foremost) have scarred Murdock. The embrace of some of his worst enemies in The Hand, while pushing away his closest friends marks a major change in the psyche of the character. This is one of those character arcs that you can’t see them coming away from the same every again. In many ways this is probably as close as we would get to a storyline where Batman takes over the Gotham crime families, a story that would be amazing.

Next up: Shadowland #2 in August!