Book of the Week: Shadowland #2

By | August 5th, 2010
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Written by Andy Diggle with art by Billy Tan.

The battle for New York begins as battle lines are drawn and war forges strange allies. Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Moon Knight and…Kingpin?! Plus, a dangerous new player enters the battle, one that could win the fight…or damn all of New York!

What did we at Multiversity think of the second issue of the biggest Daredevil-centric event ever? Check behind the cut.

Matt’s Thoughts: I was “totally stoked” on the first issue of Shadowland. I thought it was intense, a lot of fun, and exactly what I had been wanting out of a Daredevil-centric event. Unfortunately, I can’t really say the about the second issue, which takes the fast pace of the first issue and slows it down to assumedly flesh out the story.

A lot of big things happen in this issue, all things considered. Kingpin makes his appearance and his stance on the issue, and the heroes unite to confront Daredevil in his dark tower. However, considering what I just described, you’d think that what would happen would be more than just people sitting around talking, but alas – you’d be wrong. That is ultimately the downfall of this issue – too much exposition, and not enough… well, anything else. A lot of characters are brought in here, and thus all the tie-ins are effectively set-up, but aside from setting things up, what do we get? An important character arriving in a fiery display as well as a last page filled with action. Well, alright then.

Exposition is usually how one should start their event. The first issue, which featured wall to wall action (basically) set the bar in my mind for what should be happening in this issue. To pick up a book that is merely filled with dialogue is fairly disappointing, especially considering last issue ended with Daredevil murdering Bullseye. Where is the fallout from that? The heroes basically shrug their shoulders at the event and decide to talk to Matt. Something feels off in that.

I also noticed that throughout the entire issue, everyone feels the need to make humorous analogies about things. “They’ll be on us like a dog on bacon.” “He’s killed more people than old age.” “Locked down tighter’n J Jonah Jameson’s welfare budget.” This element of the book makes the dialogue feel very forced, and honestly I do not know ANYONE who talks like that that isn’t a comedian.

While I feel the writing went down, I do believe the arting went up. Some people aren’t a big fan of Billy Tan’s style, but I’ve always enjoyed it a lot, and I think his art feels a lot more clear with this issue. It’s very sharp, and since people are mostly sitting around and chatting, he’s able to have them pose rather nicely. The one character who is in heavy motion (who, for the sake of spoilers, is Ghost Rider) looks pretty dynamite, and his triumphant appearance is just that.

Shadowland #2 isn’t as good as the first issue, because I feel that if anything this style of issue should have come first. It’s never a good idea to start off with a bang and then let things die down before going at it again. This is an event comic, and in that regards the pace should be built upwards and only upwards until the “shocking” finale. To give off moments of quiet tension can be alright, but should always come before the action.

David’s Thoughts: While I enjoyed the first issue of Shadowland, I didn’t love it by any means, nor was I really that pumped for this event. For all the forward momentum continued by Andy Diggle From Daredevil and the quality moments that were inside of it, I still found myself a little off put by Billy Tan’s artwork and some moments that seemed against the nature of Daredevil as a character. While the latter issue still stands out a bit, I can say that the second issue is a bigger hit with me than the debut.

Continued below

I think part of that reason is that the story focuses less on Daredevil than it does on those working around him. You’ve got Moon Knight getting on the inside of Shadowland, Luke Cage and Danny Rand rallying the troops, Kingpin making his play, and a surprise visit by the Spirt of Vengeance himself — Ghost Rider. With that much going on, there isn’t a lot of time for much else, but Diggle continues to build the apparent villainy of Murdock. In the past, Murdock has been dark, but never a full out villain. I think at this point he’s firmly on the side of evil as he works on expanding his power base with brute force.

Diggle’s voice for the street level characters is phenomenal…if nothing else, he establishes to me that he’d make a great heir apparent to Bendis on New Avengers. His plotting is very clever as well, such as the methodry he gets Moon Knight into Shadowland and the way Ghost Rider enters the picture. It is very enjoyable to simply watch Diggle move his chess pieces around his board.

Billy Tan’s art still isn’t my favorite, but it works far better in this issue because there are far less scenes that draw attention to his stiff and wide character models. In particular, Tan does a great job with the Moon Knight and Ghost Rider sequences, giving the former a quiet power and the latter a seriously major splash page. The rest is solid, but those moments stood out as less awkward than the rest.

The second issue does a great job at building momentum, but I still have issue with the core concept: does it make sense for Dardevil/Murdock to go all the way bad? Is he mind controlled in some way? I’d love to have an answer on that soon, but based off reading the story it never really seemed like he was out of control in the way he is now.

Walt’s Thoughts: When Shadowland was still in the works and Marvel was spewing out all sorts of teaser images, I was ridiculously excited for the event (just ask the other Multiversity writers). Daredevil has long been one of my favorite Marvel characters, and watching his downward spiral that started when Bendis joined the book has been quite a ride. Shadowland is the result of that spiral, and possibly even the finale (if Marvel’s teasers are to be believed).

My excitement, however, waned slightly with the first couple of issues. They weren’t bad, per se, but I felt that Andy Diggle could do better, especially considering he has in the past. What originally looked like an interesting look at vigilante morality now looks like your standard possessed superhero story. I have faith that Diggle won’t make it too cliche, but unless he has something crazy that he’s going throw in at the end, I don’t see this being anything terribly unique.

This individual issue, however, was pretty enjoyable. It’s always fun to see Moon Knight make an appearance in anything, even if he was completely upstaged by Ghost Rider. Diggle has a pretty good handle on Luke Cage and Danny Rand’s characters, and he really gets what they would do in this sort of situation. There were some great moments with Matt struggling with his new position in this issue, but I feel that they didn’t make sense if whatever has a hold on him “won” last issue.

As other Multiversity writers have commented, Billy Tan was grossly overshadowed by De Le Torre in the first two issues, and while his art was better this time around it wasn’t quite great. There were a few panels that I really liked, but for the most part I wasn’t impressed.

In the end, this is the sort of story where the end is going to make or break it. Despite there being a couple of cliches, Diggle is a great writer (especially when it comes to action scenes), so I would say you should buy it. I give you permission to yell at me if the end isn’t as great as I hope it will be.

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."