Collected Comic Review - Daredevil: Shadowland Omnibus

Daredevil: Shadowland Omnibus - Collecting Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil (2009) #1, Daredevil (1964) #501-512, Shadowland (2010) #1-5, Shadowland: Elektra (2010) #1, Shadowland: Bullseye (2010) #1, Shadowland: Moon Knight (2010) #1-3, Shadowland: Ghost Rider (2010) #1, Shadowland: Spider-Man (2010) #1, Shadowland: Blood on the Streets (2010) #1-4, Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow (2010) #1-3, Thunderbolts (1997) #148-149, Shadowland: Power Man (2010) #1-4, Shadowland: After the Fall (2011) #1, and Daredevil: Reborn (2011) #1-4

As a long time Daredevil fan, I was beyond excited a few months ago when it was first announced that Marvel was going to release this collection.  And I know for a fact that I was in the minority!  More often than not, if you ask someone about this era of Daredevil, they don't have kind things to say.  Personally I feel that it gets a bad rap, so hopefully my review (which I will keep as spoiler free as possible) will help you decide whether or not you want to give this run a shot (even if in another format).

Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil (2010) #1 (Tan),
Daredevil (1964) #501 Cover (Esad Ribic)

This volume collects Andy Diggle's run on Daredevil, picking up immediately following Ed Brubaker's run - which in turn followed Brian Michael Bendis' - and leads up to Mark Waid's run that re-launched the title in 2011.  Beginning with Bendis and carrying on through Brubaker to Diggle, the passing of the Daredevil torch was very much a "let's see if you can top this!" challenge.  I personally feel that if Marvel hadn't forcibly shoe-horned a full-on event into the middle of Diggle's run, it would be remembered more favorably.  Diggle took the pieces he was left with and ran with them, posing the question of what Daredevil would do if he were to take over The Hand?  The answer is actually a fairly entertaining story that takes Matt Murdock in a more mystical and supernatural direction than the runs that surround it.

Daredevil (1964) #501 (de la Torre)

The main Shadowland story, which takes place throughout the main Daredevil title issues and the five Shadowland issues (along with Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil and Shadowland: After the Fall, which are essentially prologue and epilogue issues), sees Murdock take over The Hand with the intention of re-focusing the mystical ninja clan's forces to combat crime in Hell's Kitchen before disbanding them from within.  However, Matt is blinded by his arrogance in this regard (no pun intended) and he becomes yet another example of the corrupting nature of power.

Daredevil (1964) #507 (Checchetto)

While it may not be a ground breaking idea at it's core, the story is fairly well executed and deals with the effects of Matt's actions, not only on those closest to him (Foggy Nelson, Becky Blake, and Dakota North), but on Hell's Kitchen and the surrounding areas (pulling other street level characters into the story such as Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Spider-Man, Shang-Chi, Punisher, The Shroud, Paladin, and a new, younger Power Fist) which I can only assume is what led Marvel to feel that an event was necessary.  The problem honestly isn't so much that Marvel turned Shadowland into an event, it's that they wasted the potential that such an event could provide.  The tie-in one shots and mini-series tend to vary in quality from so-so to pretty good, with equal levels of actual impact or influence/necessity.  I've read the primary story line on a number of occasions but with the release of the omnibus, my most recent read through marked the first time I've read the tie-in material since its original release eight years ago.  Although my feelings on this material softened a bit upon reading it all in one place (I previously felt that none of it was worthwhile), I still believe that it could have been much better. I felt then (and still feel now) that the Shadowland: Ghost Rider one shot specifically could have been so much more interesting.  The Shadowland-era also suffers from a few annoying editorial inconsistencies that become apparent when the material is all together.  For example the color of the smoke the Hand ninjas burst into when killed varies from title to title, and in some issues White Tiger has her amulet that provides her powers, while in others she doesn't.   

Shadowland (2010) #1 (Tan)

Overall the art throughout this entire collection is actually pretty good.  With so many different series and one shots being collected, there are a number of styles presented, but each fits the story it illustrates well in my opinion.  Billy Tan penciled Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil and the actual Shadowland series, while Roberto de la Torre and Marco Checchetto split duties on the Daredevil and Shadowland: After the Fall issues.  I laughed earlier this year when Marvel announced that Marco Checchetto was one of their 'Young Guns' artists for 2018, he's been churning out great work for them for eight years now!  The rest of the material collected here is illustrated by the likes of Emma Rios, Sean Chen, Bong Dazo, Clayton Crain, Paulo Siqueira, Wellinton Alves, Ivan Rodriguez, Declan Shalvey, Mahmud Asrar, Ray-Anhony Height, Scott Hana, and Rick Ketcham, with Davide Gianfelice providing a strong conclusion to Diggle's run in the Daredevil: Reborn series.  Other writers contributing to the Shadowland tie-ins were Zeb Wells, Gregg Hurwitz, Rob Williams, Dan Slott, Jason Henderson, Jeff Parker, Fred Van Lente, and Antony Johnston (who also co-wrote a few of the Daredevil issues with Diggle).

Shadowland (2010) #4 (Tan)

Despite the unnecessary nature of some of the tie-in material, this is actually a very well made collection that I am beyond happy with.  It has a pretty hefty collection of extras including all of the variant covers from the run/event, a number of sketch/character design pages, creator interviews, character profiles, interior pencils, and Andy Diggle's script from Daredevil: Reborn #1.  The wrap-around graphic cover is a beautiful, action-packed panel pulled straight from one of Billy Tan's huge mid-story fight scenes.  Marvel has taken some flak in recent years for not presenting event stories in a logical or proper reading order, but they pretty much nailed it with this omnibus.  They gave us the main Daredevil and Shadowland issues alternating in a logical order, followed by the various one-shots and mini-series (grouped in their entirety), before concluding with the Shadowland: After the Fall epilogue issue and the Daredevil: Reborn mini.  The binding is good and lays open nicely after minimal breaking in.  The pages are a bit on the thin side, but really nothing different from any other recent Marvel Omnibus release.  There are two covers to this omnibus collection, a mass market cover by John Cassaday (who provided covers for the Shadowland event as well as the corresponding Daredevil issues) and the direct market variant by Billy Tan (pictured above).

Shadowland: Elektra (2010) #1 (Rios)

I really wish that Marvel editorial had allowed Andy Diggle to tell his story without forcibly turning it into a widespread event.  I feel as though it would have been received and remembered much more fondly had it been a self-contained arc within the Daredevil title.  Is it as good as the material the came before it (the Bendis and Brubaker runs) or after it (Waid's run)?  No, it is not.  But that's not so much a slight on Diggle's work as it is verification of just how great those other runs truly are.  I'm totally biased being the huge Daredevil fan that I am, but I feel like this material should not be skipped as it is the connective tissue between the Brubaker and Waid runs and really helps inform Matt Murdock's frame of mind as Waid takes over. 

Daredevil: Reborn (2011) #1 (Gianfelice)

Overall, I feel like Marvel only produced this omnibus because the overwhelming majority of modern Daredevil material - 1998's Volume 2 relaunch through Mark Waid's run - has been collected in the over-sized format.  In fact, only one arc has not been collected at all (#'s 20-25 Playing to the Camera), and only one other has not been part of an over-sized collection (#'s 51-55: Echo - Vision Quest).  The existence of this omnibus certainly wasn't due to the demand from fans!  That being said, I love that this collection is actually a thing, but it is definitely aimed at hardcore Daredevil fans like myself or completionists.  If you're not familiar with any of this material, I would highly recommend trying it out digitally or via trade paperback first to see if you want to drop omnibus money on this material.  While I unapologetic-ally enjoy it (weak points and all), I can't consciously advise anyone to buy this material blindly.

Character Designs (de la Torre, Carlo Pagulayan)

I have tried to avoid spoilery specifics, so if you have any questions or would like further explanation of my feelings on this collection, please feel free to let me know!  I'd be happy to elaborate in the comments section below where spoilers could be avoided.

Cover w/o Dust Jacket (Tan)

P.S. - The Daredevil: Shadowland Omnibus looks great in its proper place on my DD shelf!


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