Shedding Some Spotlight On Shadowland
Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - 01:03
(Editor's Note: Our latest column to hit Cosmic Book News comes from
Chris "DOC" Bushley who will be taking a look at the less "cosmic" characters in comic books with his "Just What The Doc Ordered" column!)
By Chris Bushley
In July, Marvel will launch Shadowland: The Battle For The Soul Of New York, the first-ever Daredevil-centric crossover where heroes will yet again choose sides against one another and do battle over their beliefs of right and wrong. But what brought Daredevil to the point where friends now see him as enemy number one? Let's take a walk down the back alleys of Hell's Kitchen and see if we can't shine a spotlight on New York's "Man Without Fear."
Over the years, four amazing writers -- Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker and Andy Diggle -- have put Matt Murdock through the toughest situations a man could possibly imagine and have churned out one of the most compelling characters on the shelves today. He is religious, blind and upholds justice both in the courtroom and in the streets with no extraordinary abilities sans a radar-like hearing. Skillful in many forms of martial arts, he is the savior of a community that both fears and adores him and is one of the very few characters that actually retains both physical damage and mental scars for more than a story arc. Daredevil has a small but important cast of characters that are not only friends or co-workers with Matt Murdock, but an anchor to keep him grounded in reality when the streets are littered with costumed villains. Foggy Nelson, Murdock's best friend and law partner, is the only thing that has been a constant in Murdock's life. Through everything, he is what has kept some semblance of sanity in the soul of Daredevil and unfortunately without him to steer the man inside the costume back to solid ground, his best friend will become lost within his alter ego's search for justice.
Without delving into every nook and cranny of this fractured man, let's instead gaze upon who drew the chalk outline of what is his life. Every good Daredevil story begins with the bane of his existence: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, and this one is no different. A few years ago, after the death of his wife, the Kingpin chose to leave New York and search for solace. This opened the flood gates for every two-bit hood to scramble over the Kingpin's territories like maggots on a carcass. With blood in the water, many larger sharks rose to the top of the underworld. The Hood, the Owl, the assassin ninja clan the Hand and a certain green-hued maniac named Norman Osborn, all jockeying for top billing. Murdock had to battle once again as both attorney and hero and wound up losing more than he bargained for. When Murdock's wife Mia lost her sanity, it drove him to declare himself as the new kingpin and the streets would be ruled by his law. The Hand decided this would be the perfect time to send their latest assassin, Lady Bullseye, on a mission to recruit Murdock as the new leader of the Hand but when he refuses, Lady Bullseye hatches a plan of her own.
Meanwhile, Wilson Fisk begins to get too comfortable in his new life as he takes on a new lover and becomes a father figure to her children; all the while waging an internal struggle to repress his sinister ways. The old Kingpin persona emerges as his new family is slaughtered by the Hand and his thin veil of internal peace is bathed in blood. A tense partnership is forged between Daredevil and Kingpin to take down the Hand, but all is not what it seems. The Kingpin has been using the Hand and Lady Bullseye to take back his territories and targeting Daredevil's friends at the same time. Leadership of the Hand is then offered to the Kingpin but as he begins the initiation ritual, Daredevil, with a small group of hand-picked warriors, stakes his claim as leader of the Hand on two conditions: the Hand will never do business with the Kingpin again and Lady Bullseye must be cast out forever! Murdock's decision was not an easy one for he gave up everything -- his law firm, his wife and his friends -- to be surrounded by those that would kill him if he shows the slightest moment of weakness. Plus he inadvertently places all of his enemies together, which sets him up for a bottomless fall.
Lady Bullseye and the Kingpin target some of Norman Osborn's corrupt police detectives and crooked judges, making it look like they were eviscerated by the Hand. This gets Daredevil placed on Osborn's "List," and Bullseye, along with a H.A.M.M.E.R. squad, is chosen to take the Hand down no mater what the cost. Hundreds of innocents die in a tenement building that was scheduled for demolition by Oscorp when Bullseye detonates a bomb, all the while mocking Daredevil's futile efforts to save them. This horrible act drives our hero to wage war on all of Osborn's corrupt officials. With the courts and police precincts teeming with those loyal to the all mighty dollar, Daredevil builds his own prison, one that will mimic the seediness of their souls. Thus Shadowland is birthed, an underground prison half-submerged in water that will become the home to any who oppose Daredevil's rule of the streets. It is truly a dark day when one who has upheld the laws of others so dearly and for so long sees no better way to protect the innocent then to enforce his own law: the streets of Hell's Kitchen are solely his to protect and anyone found uninvited in his realm is his enemy.
In his blind eyes, the Heroic Age has come too late. He was the only one who answered the call for a savior when the streets of New York were littered in chaos and blood. The day was not saved and hundreds of lives were turned into tombstones in a single flash. How dare these so-called heroes question his methods of justice as he closes the outstretched fingers of the Hand into a mighty fist. They did not come when the children were screaming, why should they come now?
He is no thunder god that can light up the night, he has no shield to stave off the unrelenting blows of his enemies, there is no family to help release the mental anguish with warm conversation or a gentle caress; all he has are the cries for justice and the levity of the street below. Hard concrete is cold and unforgiving and the longer you hold on the colder you become. The driving rain will break down even the most stoic of heroes, cutting deep gouges into their souls until it is hardened steel. But he stays perched high above the city where the whipping winds keep his senses sharp; surveying the bricks that have replaced his friends, the rooftops that have become his comfort and the mortar that has become his soul. This is what he now fights for, the few things he can still control, the nothingness that he refuses to lose; and a man with nothing left is truly a "Man Without Fear!"