Shadowland: Bullseye #1

Story by
Art by
Sean Chen, Sandau Florea
Colors by
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Marvel Comics

With Bullseye having met his maker at the end of Shadowland #1, you might be surprised to find him taking top billing in a one-shot right now. But this is comics, let's not let a thing as simple as death prevent a good story.

Or, indeed, a bad one, because John Layman's apparently well-intentioned one-shot, which attempts to show Bullseye's funeral as a deeply serious event, seems to misplace itself at every step. Chief among the story's mistakes is that Bullseye, despite having his name on the cover, doesn't really have much presence within the pages. He appears, yes, but the story isn't really about him. There's no substantial recap or retrospective, no exploration of the character worth mentioning, and generally no clear reason that this story has his name on except to flaunt trade description laws.

Those that crack open the issue will find a story wherein Ben Urich is kidnapped and forced to cover Bullseye's funeral by a biker gang who have turned him into an unlikely hero of theirs. I'll spare the dissection of why this doesn't seem to fit with Bullseye's personality, suffice to say that the notion of him "picking sides" (whether by default or not) misses the point of the character. Even under Osborn's leash, his most dangerous trait was how indiscriminate a murderer he was.

Ultimately, Urich manages to extricate himself from the situation with the most flimsy piece of plotting I've read in a long time, and the issue's denouement suffers from some disappointingly cliched timing, as Daredevil's forces show up at precisely the right moment for dramatic effect. It feels artificial and predictable.

The only reason to be excited by this story is that it's drawn by Sean Chen, whose skills are far above this sort of pointless tie-in one-shot. It's not that there's no room for such side-stories in a crossover, but if it's going to have the Shadowland banner on the front, it would have been nice to see a little more of a close relationship with that story.

The implied connection to Bullseye's death might make this seem like an important piece of the Shadowland puzzle, but it's hard to recommend to all but the most completist fans. John Layman is capable of far, far better, and it's hard to see what he thought he was doing here that seems to have failed so badly. Whatever it was, it seems best that we simply agree to move on and never mention it again.

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