by Andy Diggle (writer), Billy Tan (pencils & inks), Victor Olazaba (inks), Guru eFx (colors), Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Izo’s band of heroes race to stop Daredevil as Elektra makes her move.

What’s Good: One of the big problems that the main Shadowland series has had has been finding its identity.  It seems divided on whether to approach this as a standard Marvel event or as a Daredevil comic.   The result has been that as an event, it feels strange and off-kilter while, as a Daredevil comic, it’s a failure.

The good news is that with this issue, I feel like I finally have a clear picture of what Shadowland wants to be, as the book finally settles into being just another Marvel event.  It seems the comic has given up on any loftier aspirations and has more or less given up pretending to be a Daredevil comic.  While this does make for a mediocre comic, at least it means that the book is far less confused and messy than it has been, even if it is a little straightforward.  Certainly, I feel that reader expectations can properly adjust as well.  Shadowland, with this issue, gives up on even attempting to be like the Daredevil comics of old; it’s a Marvel event comic that’s dedicated to getting the character, and the universe, to a particular point.  At least, now, we can know what we’re getting.

If you like action, there’s a lot of action this month and all of it is done fairly well.  Action scenes are fluid, dynamic, and exciting.  A lot of this is due to Billy Tan, who continues to do surprisingly solid work on this comic.

What’s Not So Good: Unfortunately, when “settling into mediocrity” is the best thing I have to say about a comic, that’s not a good sign.  In becoming an event comic, Shadowland has reached a new level of blandness.  Diggle’s work feels like it’s simply going through the motions, getting us from point A to point B.  Never is there any real spark in this comic or anything that truly feels substantial or inspired.  While Shadowland #4 is completely inoffensive, it’s also insubstantial.

Some of Diggle’s dialogue is also pretty weak.  Wolverine’s introduction and conversation with Elektra couldn’t feel any more artificial or forced.  Spider-Man feels off for much of the issue, with Diggle clearly struggling with the character’s unique voice.  There are also a couple of stinkers from Izo.

Amidst all the fighting, there’s also several dangling plot strands that are never even approached this month, namely what’s going on with Ghost Rider and Moon Knight; two characters who were featured so heavily are entirely absent and never referred to this month.  Perhaps I’m supposed to be picking up various tie-ins to get any more out of those plots but really, if that’s the case, it’s appalling.

Beyond all of this, many of the problems that plagued the past two issues remain.  Daredevil himself is as characterless and voiceless as ever; now, more than ever, he’s nothing more than the faceless “big bad guy.” Even worse, as we head into the series finale, things are feeling increasingly well-worn and familiar as Luke and the gang prepare to battle their possessed buddy.  There’s no real emotion here and me, the biggest DD fan in the world, couldn’t feel less invested despite the high stakes.

Conclusion: A bland slab of Marvel Comic void of soul in, ironically, a tale that should be all about the soul.

Grade: C –

-Alex Evans