by Andy Diggle & Antony Johnston (writers), Marco Checchetto (art), Matt Hollingsworth (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Foggy and Dakota find themselves hunted by the Hand while Iron Fist and Luke Cage find themselves swayed by the Kingpin.

What’s Good: One of the things that’s made the last couple of issues of Shadowland, or the last couple of issues of Daredevil for that matter, somewhat underwhelming has been that they’ve tried to focus on too many things at once, winding up feeling insubstantial and mediocre throughout.  Daredevil #510 goes against this trend and is a significant improvement throughout.

Instead of even attempting any half-assed gestures towards focusing on Matt and his shift in character and internal struggles, Daredevil becomes a book focusing on Daredevil’s friends, particularly Dakota and Foggy, a wise choice given that these two are integral to the Daredevil franchise who we don’t get to see in any other book.  This makes this issue feel more meaningful and more necessary.  While I would, of course, rather that Daredevil be devoted to shedding light on Matt’s character, Diggle and Johnston’s decision to focus on Dakota and Foggy at least gives the book a strong direction and a unique one.

It’s ultimately a good choice if only because Dakota and Foggy are naturally sympathetic characters.  Not possessing any superpowers or martial arts prowess, it’s easy to root for them amidst the madness of Shadowland.  When they’re assaulted by a horde of ninjas, the threat feels a lot more real and the danger much more substantial; this isn’t a case of Luke Cage busting the faces of a horde of faceless goons, but rather, this is two people fighting for their lives in a dingy apartment hideout.  Honestly, Dakota and Foggy felt more heroic this month than any other characters have in the entirety of Shadowland.

This also allows for the lack of characterization of Matt to actually work in the book’s favour.  It makes him seem all the more monolithic and all the more incomprehensible.  In other words, in an issue anchored around his old friends, the fact that Matt’s shift in character is inexplicable makes him more believable as the big bad guy; Dakota and Foggy are like us in that they know the old Matt well and don’t understand the new Matt at all and so, suddenly, the new Matt is easier to swallow.

I also continue to enjoy Marco Checchetto’s artwork, which suits the series well and is a solid contrast to De La Torre.  It’s both gritty and sleek and all told, it’s quality work.

What’s Not So Good: I still absolutely hate the idea that Matt’s possessed.  I hate the fact that that’s what Shadowland boils down to and the more Diggle focuses on this fact, the more despise it.

It’s a ridiculously easy out for Matt and it allows for all the bad things he’s done to be written off.  At the very least, it makes the reader all the more ready to accept him once he “recovers,” no matter how much grumbling the superhero community takes part in or how much naval-gazing Matt ends up doing.  It’s the sort of “safe” writing that is simply agonizing.

This is the sort of move that not only feels clichéd, but also makes a book feel cowardly and uninspired.  It teases a fascinating and daring direction, but then refuses to go down the route.

Conclusion:  There’s only so much I can penalize a book for one story element.  Overall, this was a good book and by far the best Shadowland-related comic since Shadowland #1.

Conclusion: B-


-Alex Evans