With the core “Shadowland” series showing the broad strokes of Daredevil’s ongoing corruption by The Hand, his normal series has taken the fairly wise decision to focus, instead, on the book’s regular supporting cast, allowing “Shadowland” to take the lead. Thankfully, whenever Matt does appear, Johnston and Diggle still use the opportunity to place a little introspective focus on the man himself.
It certainly makes sense; Daredevil’s story is at the heart of Shadowland, and its status as an event crossover leaves little time to dwell on the details. Issues such as this one are able to rectify that failing, and it means that despite telling the same story, it actually works much better, sticking closer to the core idea of what Shadowland, as a crossover, is based on.
Compared to “Shadowland,” “Daredevil” is keeping its guest-stars to a minimum, and when guest stars do show up, they are inevitably those closely linked to the character. There’s no Ghost Rider or Shang Chi in this issue, for example. There are, however, two former beaus --- both of whom are long overdue a return to these pages.
Although Typhoid Mary is a Daredevil-related character, she was last seen operating as Mutant Zero in The Initiative – and with the programme dismantled, it makes a sort of sense for her to return to Daredevil’s world. There’s tension in her appearance -- I can’t imagine she’ll stay hinged for long, if, indeed, she isn’t already off the deep end -- but it is slightly jarring when the story takes a page out to infodump her recent back story. Unless the details become important later, I can’t help thinking it would have made more sense for her to simply explain that she’s cured, and gloss over the finer points.
Still, one of Shadowland’s aims was to put the Daredevil cat amongst the pigeons of the Marvel Universe, and perhaps references to The Initiative are simply part of that new ethos for the series, which fans can’t had failed to notice has been almost entirely sectioned off its own for over a decade now.
De La Torre’s artwork is well-suited to the book, grimy and urban with the strong storytelling needed for a cast with such nuance. Alongside Diggle and Johnston’s writing, and the always-flawless colors of Matt Hollingsworth, there’s little about the book that can be criticised, technically. How much you enjoy it will be tied mostly to gut reactions and feelings about the story.
The main strength of the issue also informs its biggest failing. For better or worse, this story is mostly an attempt to flesh out behind the scenes of Shadowland. Removed from that context, I’m not sure how entertaining it would be. If, however, you’re looking for the book which adds much-needed depth to Shadowland, there can be no doubting that this is it, and I can highly recommend it as a companion to the crossover, if not a substitute for it.