This is what happens when something starts out as a review, and turns into something else entirely. As for what it turns into? Just keep reading
It’s time for me to completely honest. For the past 2 years I have had a love/hate relationship with Superhero Comics. On one hand, I can say that I love most of the stuff that I’ve been following seriously since I got back into reading comics. Since 2008, my pull list has consisted books that span from the character defining epics like The Incredible Hercules and Captain America (especially before Reborn), to epic Space Operas like REBELS, Guardians of the Galaxy and NOVA. It has also included refreshingly well told team dramas like X-Factor and Secret Six, along with epic beginnings to legends in the making like Batwoman and Max Damage (Incorruptible), which show that new heroes deserve to have their stories told. Hell, I’ve even enjoyed such “fun” and “silly” books like the first year of Power Girl and Volume 3 of Exiles, which left a smile on my face each month I picked them up. These books, along with a small stack of others are a significant part of the reason why I enjoy going to my LCS every single week.
Then there is the other side of the coin. The side of the coin I don’t like talking about, but is becoming more prevalent (particularly and mostly with the “Corporate Superheroes” in Marvel and DC) with each passing Comic Book Day that goes by. With the revival of my fandom for this medium, I really began to pay attention of the trends that go into writing this genre (and other genres), and with that enlightenment comes the realization of things I don’t particularly enjoy. Things such as “ Constant Serious Business Shock Tactics (including craploads of blood, rape references, and needless deaths)”, “Endless Event Comics”, “Franchises Expanding to the Point of Ridiculousness”, “Non-Franchise Comics slowly becoming a thing of the past”, “Constant Retcons”, “Downright Disrespect of Continuity”, and “Absolute Decompression due to Trade Writing”. At the same time, however, those things don’t get to me as this set of issues that make up the foundation of the term that I am dubbing “The Absolute Circle to Nowhere.” Symptoms of this issue include the trends just discussed, multiplied by “Character Stagnation/Regression”, “Incessant Nostalgia Pandering” and “An Absolute Refusal to change the Status Quo, to the creative detriment to the franchise.” The result of “The Absolute Circle” to nowhere creates an atmosphere where most comics simply don’t matter, because the characters inside of them will never be allowed to truly change, grow and move on. This isn’t to say that all change is good, or that things like Death, Retcons, Events, Trade Writing, and a looser hand on Continuity are inherently bad things within themselves. It’s when these things or abused or downright ignored, that you begin to create this trap, something that was on sad display with the latest issue of Daredevil , a series that I have grown to love.
Daredevil #512 serves as a bookend to the Shadowland Storyline, which serves as end to the current 12 year storyline, which took Matt Murdock’s pursuit of justice down a road that ended up with everything he worked for after Kingpin ruined his life the first time, totally washed away. In fact, it became so bad that the only thing left for him was the pursuit of Justice and Peace, which took him down a dark road where he became the leader of dark Ninja Clan known as “The Hand”, once one of his sworn enemies. Absolute Power Corrupted, and led to the Construction of the Fortress known as Shadowland, and the murdering of his worst enemy in Bullseye. It seemed like Matt Murdock was heading down a road that could cause his permanent rumination, changing his life forever, except that we learned in “Shadowland” #2 that he was possessed by a Beast that feeds on evil. When you understand the nature of Superhero Comics, and take that in for a second, you realize that Matt Murdock had been given a “It wasn’t me, it was the Yellow Fear Bug” style out, potentially destroying almost all the lasting impact that a story like this could have. After that, it was no surprise to this reviewer that the storyline slowly degenerated, and became a mess by the time It was over, almost as if the creators knew it wouldn’t have any lasting impact in the end. This isn’t to say that the overall event was a complete waste of time, as “Shadowland: Power Man” was a great mini-series from start to finish, and even previous issues of the book being reviewed continued to be worth reading, despite the storyline. I guess it was only a matter of time before the slave fell under the weight of its master.
Now this isn’t to say that “Daredevil #512” was a completely bad book, not by a long shot. On the surface, the writing and art are still pretty strong in this issue, continuing the trend that was established since the storyline began. By taking the direction of focusing on how people in Matt’s life were affected by Shadowland’s effects on Hell’s Kitchen, it gave grounding to an event that made less and less sense as time went on. From the recap page, however, it’s very apparent that the Issue was never meant to have its own identity, as its sole purpose is to serve as clean up for the mess that Shadowland had left. As a result, most of the issue is spent spinning its wheels, wondering what happened to Matt Murdock and sending people off on goose chases that most likely won’t mean much of anything in the end. The only events in this book that could have a larger impact on the overall storyline is The Kingpin Assuming Control of “The Hand” and the “Black Panthers” arrival to Hell’s Kitchen, with the latter being a wasted opportunity, as he could’ve played a hand in the preceding storyline, making this transition seem more natural. Instead he’s just dropped there without any explanation , something that I hope is rectified, very soon. March Cheehtto’s drawings are also very strong, he and Matt Hollingsworth create a world that is both dark and grim, with excellent character detail and life in each picture. The Black Panther pages stand out especially, as T’Challa is drawn in all of his majesty , as he makes an immediate impact on the neighborhood.
When it’s all said and done, it’s just a shame that Shadowland went down the road it went. Everything that built up to it was well written and illustrated, as we got a logical scenario where Matt Murdock would seize the opportunity to turn “The Hand” into a force for good, without realizing that such power cannot be manipulated in such a manner. Instead we got a storyline that was mostly released in a creatively cynical manner, serving as a tool to solely increase sales volume, without any thought to how it would impact the overall mythos. In conclusion it is my hope that Marvel proves my speculative cynicism about this wrong, and makes this story matter for something. At the same time, it is also my hope that the upcoming shift to this being Black Panther’s book will not only serve a lasting impact in T’Challa’s storyline, but as a way to solidify his rise to the “A-List” of the Comic Book Character Hierarchy. Should both of these missions be accomplished, then this book would’ve had some positive creative merit, instead of being a symbol of wasted potential, as it spirals in the “Absolute Circle to Nowhere”
Final Judgment: 5.5