by Andy Diggle (writer), Billy Tan (pencils), Victor Olazaba (inks), Christina Strain (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Luke Cage and Iron Fist try to talk to Daredevil and the Kingpin gets a little demonic help.

What’s Good: This issue tries to expand on the characters involved in Shadowland in an attempt to expand the book into a true event, rather than just a bi-weekly Daredevil.  Certainly, it’s great to see the Kingpin back again and looking to play a big role.  Diggle writes the character’s voice very well and fully capture that suave, Wilson Fisk tone.  I like the idea of Fisk teaming up with heroes for his own benefit; I’ve always enjoyed it when villains find themselves teamed with heroes, as it leads to a lot of dysfunction and distrust.  In this case, it also highlights the dark position that Daredevil currently occupies.  I look forward to seeing where this goes and Kingpin’s presence is definitely a strong point.

Another additional character that works very well, in at least the little time we get with him this month, is Ghost Rider.  The build-up to his entrance is fantastic, and totally misleads you until you see that leather boot.  Diggle cleverly makes Ghost Rider sound like some magical Japanese warrior for good, so when Ghost Rider shows up with his gruff dialogue, it’s a surprising touch of comedy.   His dynamic with Fisk is also really fun for this reason; the Kingpin attempts to speak in the stilted tone he expects a demon to converse in, while Ghost Rider talks like an average guy.  It’s great stuff and Billy Tan draws the character really, really well.

The art, while it takes a bit of getting used to, is pretty solid.  While I felt that Tan’s efforts were stronger last month, Olazaba and Strain definitely take his work up a notch, giving everything an almost dusty tone that ends up being fairly pleasing.

What’s Not So Good: This issue lacked the energy and excitement of last month’s strong debut.  There’s nothing that really offended me, but I didn’t truly connect with anything either.

I think a good part of this is due to the complete lack of character moments.  At one point, Diggle tries to show Matt’s inner turmoil when he converses with his friends, but it’s so minute and throwaway that it may as well not even have happened, particularly since it was a faint echo of what the character’s been dealing with for months.  Other than that, though, the dialogue just didn’t feel as significant as it should have.  This also meant that no character shined this month, and that’s not good.  Worse still, there weren’t any explosive “wow” moments to make up for the lack of characterization.

Part of this may be due to Diggle’s dramatic expansion of the cast.  There was definitely a feeling of dilution as a result.  Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Spider-Man never go beyond mailing it in and fulfilling their expected roles, while the rest of the characters, like Colleen Wing or Misty Knight, just seem to be taking up real estate.

All of this is starting to make me wonder this Daredevil event was a good idea at all.  Daredevil always worked best as a personal, intimate book and with all of these characters diluting that and with Matt himself taking a more tertiary role, things seem bland.  Worse still, due to this lack of character time, I’m not even buying Daredevil as a villain yet, despite how much Diggle expects me to have fully bought that by now.

Conclusion: Frustratingly mediocre.

Grade: C

-Alex Evans