The events of “Shadowland” #1 roll into this issue, with Daredevil dealing — or refusing to deal — with the events of that story. Bullseye is dead. Daredevil has become the tyrant king of a small section of New York City. Other than his pack of Hand Ninjas and his trusted lieutenants, like White Tiger, no one else is allowed in his domain.
This isn’t a superhero comic any more.
Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston have taken the conceit of Daredevil-as-Hand-leader and taken it in a very different direction that I would have guessed. Matt Murdock isn’t using his ninja allies to secretly maintain order, or to bring justice to the shadowy corners of the world. Instead, Daredevil has set up his kingdom, he’s become a madman, imprisoning his enemies in floating cages or stabbing them through the heart. This series has become a crazed exploration of martial arts politics and sinister misdeeds.
That makes it a pretty darn good, and with Roberto De La Torre providing the pencils and inks, it looks much better than the “Shadowland” series.
But in this issue, Diggle and Johnston hint at a kind of escape clause for Daredevil. Though previous writers like Bendis and Brubaker have put Matt Murdock through a series of gauntlets — both physical and emotional — and left him all the worse for it in the end, it’s hard to imagine that a Marvel mainstay like Daredevil will continue down this Shadowland path where he is a murderous overlord. He’s a hero. An action figure. A Ben Affleck or whoever else they get to play him in the inevitable movie revamp.
And because of all that, there has to be some way to justify Daredevil’s deeds here, and that justification seems to be the old standby: mind control. Or maybe demonic influence. Or some variation on that. White Tiger’s eyes flash red, perhaps explaining why her personality in this run is distinctly different than what we saw when the character was introduced as a special agent in Bendis’ run. And the issue ends with a Daredevil tormented and tortured by something in his mind. Something that causes him to convulse in pain and tear his mask off.
Well, it doesn’t actually end with that, but that happens near the end. The actual end is a splash page of Elektra. And that doesn’t bode well for Matt Murdock either.