I have written about my love for the scarlet-clad vigilante Daredevil at length before. His tortured soul and seeming interest in walking straight into a fight, teeth gritted in determination have always appealed to me. After being introduced to the Frank Miller version of the character as a youth, my vision of Daredevil has been tainted by that noir-influenced fallen hero who struggles to fight back an overwhelming tide of crime in the streets on New York City. In recent years, the character has become the center of attention as top tier creative teams have taken the series to new heights of success.
When writer Andy Diggle (the Losers) took over the reigns of Daredevil, readers were unsure if he could keep up the breakneck pace that had been maintained by Bendis and Brubaker before him but the comic has, if anything, been far more intense since he arrived! In the Dark Reign of the Marvel Universe where a criminal Cabal had taken control of the law enforcement agencies, Daredevil formed an unlikely alliance with his arch nemesis the Kingpin in order to take down the international assassination cult known as the Hand.
In the end, Daredevil decided that rather than destroying the massive organization he would instead join them as their leader. Amongst the return of several dead characters, the arrival of candy-colored Green Lanterns and the reformation of the Avengers, this had to be the most shocking maneuver I witnessed in comics this past year. Here, things get… interesting.
“With ‘Daredevil,’ there’s been a tradition of the writer leaving Matt Murdock in a very sticky situation when he passes the title on to the next writer. When Brian Bendis passed it over to Ed Brubaker, he left Matt Murdock in prison with his secret identity exposed; and when Ed passed it on to me, Daredevil had just taken over leadership of the Hand, who had previously been his arch enemies. So that’s inherently an exciting place to start my run, because the story’s already up to full speed. I get to grab that ball and run with it. Dramatically, I have to deal with the repercussions of Matt’s decision. What is he going to do now and how did this happen?” Diggle told CBR News. “My first year of ‘Daredevil’ is about addressing this fundamental question – why did the Hand choose Matt? Because on the surface, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Matt Murdock doesn’t kill, and the Hand are assassins. That’s kind of a conflict of interest!”
“Matt has been driven to extremes by the relentless burden of what he’s been put through over the past year,” Diggle continued. “But certain elements within the Hand have their own agenda, which Matt is not yet fully aware of. Seeing these intrigues interweave and play out will lead us into ‘Shadowland’ – which is the point where all the various plot threads converge… and explode!”
“I read this great interview with Frank Miller where he said, ‘With all the hardship Matt Murdock has been through in his life, why didn’t he end up a bad guy?’ And I think that question really gets to the core of Matt Murdock as a human being. Why didn’t he become a bad guy? So I thought it would be really interesting to explore that question, and see what would happen if you pushed him. Tempted him.” Diggle remarked. “The Hand aren’t trying to break him or beat him down like he was in ‘Born Again.’ Instead, the question is whether he’ll be corrupted by the temptation of power. He’s never really wanted power before. That’s not part of his nature. Power has always just been a means to an end. But the situations he’s been through recently have been so extreme, his moral compass has gotten a little bent out of shape.”
At the same time “Shadowland” is unfolding Diggle, his co-writer Antony Johnston, and artist Roberto De la Torre will be spinning a parallel story in “Daredevil” #508-511, adding to “Shadowland” while standing on its own. “The two stories are designed to stand alone, but it also works if you read them together,” Diggle explained. “Antony and I have plotted the arc so you can zig-zag between the titles if you want, or you can read either title on its own, and the story still makes sense – which is ultimately kind of a plotting challenge. The plots run parallel without crossing over too much, which makes life a lot easier.”
In “Shadowland,” readers will be treated to huge superheroic battles, while in “Daredevil,” Diggle and Johnston will examine the smaller and more intimate aspects of the conflict. “‘Daredevil” will be more focused on the ground level characters like Dakota North, Foggy Nelson and Detective Kurtz,” Diggle revealed. “Also, you’ll get to see a lot more of what’s going on in Matt’s life within the walls of Shadowland. The high concept of ‘Shadowland’ is ‘Daredevil Is The Bad Guy,’ but within the pages of the ‘Daredevil’ title, we get to see a little more of how things look from his point of view.”
“Shadowland” comes to a conclusion in November, and Diggle is currently hard at work planning out where “Daredevil” is going beyond the epic storyline, which will leave Matt Murdock in a dramatically different place, both physically and emotionally. “I’m currently mapping out the arc after ‘Shadowland,’ and it’s very much focused on Matt as a person. We get back inside his head in a way that we haven’t done for a while now,” Diggle said. “You’ll notice that in my run I haven’t been using an interior monologue for Matt, except when he dreams. So the only time you see his interior monologue is when we see into his subconscious. And there’s a very specific reason for that, which will become apparent during the course of ‘Shadowland.'”
(Promotional images below)