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Andy Diggle’s Run on Daredevil – Shadowland (Review/Retrospective)

This April, to celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are taking a look at some classic and modern comics featuring Spider-Man (and friends). Check back daily for the latest review.

Shadowland is a disappointing climax to a wonderful decade of Daredevil. From the moment that Kevin Smith launched the second volume of the character through to the end of Ed Brubaker’s run, the Man Without Fear enjoyed a wonderfully consistent run of stories including runs from some of the best writers and artists working in comics, pushing the character in bold new directions and well outside his comfort zone.

Shadowland has a lot of problems, but the most obvious is that it betrays its central character. Matt Murdock is one of the most fascinating protagonists in comics, a proud (and occasionally arrogant) individual who might have the best of intentions but isn’t always able to make the right choices. Watching Murdock deal with his own mistakes and setbacks was a pretty compelling hook, as the comic pushed its protagonist into increasingly uncomfortable positions.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Shadowland. Despite an interesting premise, it all falls apart when it decides that “a demon did it” is an acceptable explanation for Murdock’s latest errors in judgement.

Devilish delight?

Devilish delight?

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Andy Diggle’s Run on Daredevil (Review/Retrospective)

This April, to celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are taking a look at some classic and modern comics featuring Spider-Man (and friends). Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the most remarkable things about Daredevil was how consistent the quality of the title had been. Andy Diggle inherited Daredevil at the height of its popularity. Ed Brubaker’s Daredevil was well-loved and enjoyed, climaxing on a celebratory 500th issue. Brubaker had come on after Brian Michael Bendis’ much-lauded run on the title. The two are considered among the best writers to work on the character since Frank Miller redefined the Man Without Fear. Diggle was succeeded by Mark Waid, who has made a reinvigoured and nostalgic Daredevil into one of Marvel’s best-reviewed and best loved books.

These are all great runs. Andy Diggle’s Daredevil run is not well-remembered. Diggle essentially wrote twelve issues of the main title, and almost the same number of crossover tie-ins, miniseries and one-shots. Whereas those other successful runs of Daredevil existed with their own space and freedom, Diggle’s Daredevil was very much event-driven. The big moment in all of Diggle’s Daredevil writing is the street-level crossover event Shadowland. It’s a problematic event, and quite a few of those problems reverberate back into Diggle’s work on the main title.

And yet, despite that, what’s most frustrating about Diggle’s Daredevil run is that it really could (and should) have been so much better.

The Devil you know...

The Devil you know…

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Non-Review Review: Shadowlands

Shadowlands is, at its core, a very typical “weepy” romantic drama. However, it’s an exceptionally well-executed example of the genre, one that demonstrates a rather uncanny understanding about the complexities of love and loss that help it stand out from a lot of its fellow films. A superbly powerful central performance from Anthony Hopkins certainly doesn’t hurt, and Richard Attenborough’s elegant, yet unintrusive, direction allows the story to flow without ever feeling too emotionally manipulative. It’s an intelligent and well-constructed exploration of a tragic love affair, one that feels distinctly human in its approach to its subjects and themes.

Does Hopkins deliver a superb performance? You can bank on it…

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