Stewart’s Slate: Review of Shadowland

21 Jan

Shadowland #1-5 from Marvel Comics. Also available in trade paperback.

Writer: Andy Diggle
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inks: Batt
Colours:Christina Strain/Laura Martin
After taking over the shadowy Hand organisation believing he could use their massive manpower and resources for good, Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil has instead himself been turned towards darkness by their corrupting influence. Looks like it’s time for a big Marvel Event!
Yes, that’s right. Old horn head or “The crimson wimp” as The Punisher has been known to call him has finally gone off down the deep end. Constructing a huge Japanese castle in the middle of Hells Kitchen on the site of a city block destroyed by Bullseye and declaring marshal law throughout the area with his army of Hand ninjas evicting or abducting all gang members, criminals and even the police. It soon becomes clear to the large group of super heroes who assemble to deal with the problem that Matt is no longer completely himself and has become the the victim of demonic interference which has begun to spread outwards from Daredevils stronghold and affect the rest of the city causing riots and civil unrest on a massive scale.

As per usual with all Marvels big events there’s a lot of other parts of the story told in more detail in other ongoing Marvel character titles that bear the Shadowland banner, Shadowland: Moon Knight, Shadowland: Spiderman etcetera, but the main meat of the story takes place in these 5 comics and even though Daredevil isn’t a character I read much and I never found any of it difficult to follow.

If you’re a Daredevil fan then this is pretty much required reading if you want to keep up with what’s going on in his life and in fact the same can be said for any Marvel fans who like to collect all the big stories so they can stay up on all the latest events. Sadly though, this is no Civil War and frankly isn’t up to the standard of any of the main Marvel events over the past few years.

The first issue is quite a lot of fun as the rest of the super hero community realise how much Matt has changed when they witness his showdown with Bullseye but after that it becomes fairly predictable and formulaic as the good guys first attempt to confront him, have to run away, then regroup with a few extra characters and return to save the day just as everything seems at its worst.
It obviously wasn’t even a threat that the Marvel Characters themselves took all that seriously as none of the more major players from The Avengers, Thor, Captain America, Miss Marvel, get involved. Instead leaving it to the more street level heroes like Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Iron Fist and even The Punisher gets involved in all the battles.

I can’t believe just how useless the Hand ninjas are! I’ve been reading Marvel comics for over 20 years and I’ve never once seen them win a fight. They’re like the Battle Droids in Star Wars Episode 1. It would have provided more of a challenge to the heroes if they’d had to climb a big ladder or swim across a moat to get to Daredevil than it did for them to wade through the 300 or so red clad pansies they beat senseless during the course of the story. As big a deal as they all kept making it out to be it still felt like something Iron Man could have sorted out on his own if he’d just had the time.

Having said all that it’s not terrible. There’s plenty of characters in there mixing it up Spiderman, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Kingpin, Typhoid Mary, Shang-Chi, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing as well as all the other characters I mentioned earlier and most of them get their fair share of good one liners. The art work’s good with all the battles being drawn in an exciting fast paced looking way even if you know they might as well be fighting 8 year olds for all the trouble the Hand ninjas give them. And finally although it’s not a story that “Changes the Marvel Universe forever!” like the other events prior to this one, things do change around a little by the end creating some good possibilities for stories in the future.
Not bad but not great either. 
SCORE 6/10

Shadowland:After The Fall one-shot from Marvel Comics
Writer: Antony Johnston
Art: Roberto De La Torre/Marco checchetto
Colours: Morry Hollowell
A short epilogue to Shadowland where two people, Reporter Ben Urich and Detective Alex Kurtz, both attempt to track down Matt Murdock but for completely different reasons. Ben, for a story and Alex to arrest him.

There’s no action in this comic whatsoever as the two set about questioning Daredevils friends and associates  in an effort to track him down but honestly it’s far better than the Shadowland story itself. They talk to various characters some super powered, some not, some just plain cops who police Hells Kitchen. Some in favour of tracking him down, some not, some who seem to forgive him for his apparent failure and some who don’t. Emotionally there’s far more going on in this one comic than went on in all 5 issues of the main Shadowland story and the artwork is fantastic! Full of character with brilliant lighting affect and shadows. Hells Kitchen really comes to life in the pages of this comic.
As the epilogue to a forgettable story I was fully prepared for this to suck balls but it turned out to be the best part to the story I read.
SCORE 8/10

2 Responses to “Stewart’s Slate: Review of Shadowland”

  1. Aalok Madhusudan Joshi January 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    I kinda thought that this would be better than the other crossovers as these are the heroes that always get sidetracked in favour of the big ones (well, maybe not Spider-man & Luke Cage due to them being in NEW AVENGERS) but I wish it had been done more tightly…pity…I was also looking forward to Diggle writing.

  2. Stewart Loud January 29, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Yeah, I know what you mean. Like I said in the review, the first issue was really good but over all it just didn't have any of the excitement of the other recent Marvel events.

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