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Sunday Slugfest: Daredevil #510

Posted: Sunday, September 12, 2010
By: Thom Young

Andy Diggle & Antony Johnston
Marco Checchetto (with Matt Hollingsworth, colors)
Marvel Comics
Forces converging on Hell's Kitchen have created a smoldering power keg, leading to a rise in street crimes, riots, and other forms of chaos. Matt Murdock and his agents don't seem to care. This issue is the "things fall apart" moment.

Robert Tacopina:
Shawn Hill:
Chris Kiser:

Robert Tacopina:

The Shadowland event continues to rip through the life of Matt Murdock and those whom he holds nearest and dearest. The funny thing about this whole event is that the details found in Daredevil seem to surpass those found in Shadowland in terms of quality. This latest issue of Daredevil manages to keep that trend going, as there is an equal amount of action and drama that is presented rather well.

What we learn here is that Master Izo, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist have come to the conclusion that the only way to end Daredevilís reign is by killing him. The story by writers Diggle & Johnston leaves a lot to be fleshed out in further issues of Daredevil and Shadowland before the event wraps up. They have put these characters in an interesting place, and I am very anxious to see how this whole deal plays out.

The interactions between the characters feel organic. You know that Luke & Danny are not jumping into some foregone conclusion when they decide that the only way to end this current situation is by killing their longtime friend. Likewise, you have to wonder just how much pull the Kingpin has, and how far his influence has reached. As usual, the steady art team of Marco Checchetto and Matt Hollingsworth deliver beautiful visuals of the dark and seedy Shadowland.

Daredevil has been a strong title month after month, and so you have to wonder where Marvel plans on doing with the character at the conclusion of Shadowland. I canít think of a single character who has had to deal with so much crap as Matt has, which is what makes him such a great character to invest in. It only makes me hesitant for the end of this story as it is rumored that it will spell the end of Daredevil as we know him.

Shawn Hill

This issue finds Matt's former friends, now largely alienated from him in protective pockets around the city, trying to figure out how to help him--when they're not trying just to survive. There seems to be more than one Hand (the club supposedly led by Matt now), and there are certainly multiple forms of criminals on the streets.

Foggy and Dakota fight in a compromised safehouse to protect themselves from ninjas, doing fairly well but still in need of Black Tarantula's last-minute rescue. Eventually, they meet up with Luke Cage and Iron Fist--all unable to get to Matt, and unhappy to find that their strangest bedfellow at this point is none other than Wilson Fisk.

Has Fisk manipulated things to this point (as Foggy believes), or have his wise predictions simply come true about Matt reaching beyond his means and creating chaos? Only Black Tarantula, as one of Matt's chosen agents and Hand allies, can get close enough to talk to the man himself, and he can't get past Matt's unlikely knights--Typhoid Mary and Elektra.

He really should have been worrying most about White Tiger, however. Unfortunately, Angela's the true carrier of contagion in this scenario, and she (or those who control her) has decided Tarantula has become more problem than tool. You'd think her glowing eyes would have tipped someone off.

On the other hand, glowing eyes have spread to the ninjas and Matt himself these days--with more strong visual effects from colorist Matt Hollingsworth. Also nice are the green fumes that boil off dying ninjas, and the blood splatters that are the result of Dakota's shotgun blasts. Marco Checchetto's work is fluid, making the attacks appear disorienting and scary, and favoring odd triads (Matt in his throne flanked by his minions, White Tiger and her guards as she executes Black Tarantula).

In the end, Foggy and Dakota learn there are worse things than ninja attacks, and we experience a growing sense of inevitable doom. It's beyond time for a desperate move of salvation, but there's no cavalry on the horizon. I'm still intrigued by this dark and dramatic story. Though there are many ancillary titles, this tale knows its place in a set geographic corner of the Marvel universe--keeping things coherent and focused on a tight, Daredevil-ready group of supporting players.

Chris Kiser:

With Daredevil #510, the great Shadowland experiment begins. Disillusioned by the poor quality of the first couple issues, Iíve decided to follow the story of that Marvel event exclusively through the tie-in pages of Daredevil, consistently one of my favorite comics of the past decade.

From the standpoint of accessibility, my decision thus far seems warranted. A concise recap on the first page of the issue is more than enough to fill readers in on the contents of Shadowland #3. At no point did I feel lost or confused as to the status or location of a particular character, despite the discontinuity between this and the last issue of Daredevil.

Alas, the task of making their story understandable is not the only challenge that writers Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston find themselves facing here. The success of Shadowland rests entirely upon the degree to which the reader can be sold on Matt Murdockís sudden switch from hero to tyrant, and right now Iím not buying it.

Itís true that Murdock has long been a troubled character, and often his struggles have brought him to the brink of the dividing line between right and wrong. Never before, though, has he been cast as the outright villain of his own series--and certainly not with as little justification as this event provides.

As Murdock orders the execution of civilians and allows his former friends to be pursued by the Hand ninjas over whom he rules, Diggle and Johnston resort to demonic possession as their leading explanation for the characterís actions. While this may absolve the pair from the crime of mischaracterization, it also robs the story of some dramatic weight. If this isnít really Murdock who has gone to the dark side by his own free will, why should we consider it such a big deal?

The rest of the issue is filled with other story elements that seem carelessly concocted for no other reason than to inspire shock value. Weíre shown a panicked New York citizenry that takes to the streets to loot and riot, but no clear connection is demonstrated between these incidents and Murdockís actions. While Iím sure the construction of a giant ninja fortress in the heart of the city would have some sort of societal impact, Iím not quite sure why the entire town seems to have gone insane overnight.

I suppose itís partially to the credit of guest artist Marco Checchetto that I didnít instantly recognize Roberto de La Torreís absence this month, but thatís probably largely due to the consistent look of Matt Hollingsworthís colors. It isnít long before some awkward distortion in his figure drawing gives away his substitutionary status.

For the first two months of Shadowland, the Daredevil tie-in issues were more smartly written than the corresponding chapters of the main series, even if they still werenít up to the seriesí typical level. I have no idea whether that same pattern holds true this month, but if it does, then Shadowland #3 must have been one lousy comic book.

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