This week saw the release of Shadowland #5 and Daredevil #512, bringing an end to not only the street-level crossover that has dominated Marvel’s output for the past five months, but also Daredevil’s titular run on his own comic book. Daredevil #512 was billed as the last issue of the title, and the finale to Matt Murdock’s forty-six year tenure as The Man Without Fear. While reaction to the event has been mixed, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to what’s coming next for Ol’ Hornhead. Let’s take a look at those reasons – we’ll be looking at the endings of both comics, so treat this as your spoiler warning!
1. Daredevil Reborn
What, you thought he was gone for good? Starting in January, Daredevil Reborn is a four-issue miniseries (presumably) chronicling Matt Murdock’s return to red spandex. The end of Shadowland saw Murdock leaving New York on a coach and finding himself in the middle of nowhere. The solicitation’s not giving too much away:
The apocalyptic events of SHADOWLAND have left the once-proud legacy of Daredevil in tatters. Now, far from the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, a new evil is rising, and the only man crazy enough to face it is a man with nothing left to lose. The road to Hell was paved with good intentions, but the long road to redemption is the far harder path…
Will we be following a costume-less Murdock as he rebuilds his superhero persona from scratch out in the badlands? We’ll find out in a month. Andy Diggle continues to write DD’s adventures, with his long-time cohort Jock bringing the covers. Which leaves the art duties to…
2. Davide Gianfelice
The 33 year-old Italian artist will be illustrating Reborn, fresh off his recent work on Wolverine: Weapon X #16. Take a look at this commission piece that Gianfelice posted on his blog and tell me he wasn’t born to draw everyone’s favourite fictional lawyer/vigilante:
3. Matt Murdock Reborn
In the climactic moments of Shadowland, the Beast-possessed Matt Murdock was urged by Elektra to confront his inner demons – including his abandonment by his mother and the abuse he endured from his father. Whether or not these issues will continue to haunt him is unclear, but one thing Murdock won’t be burdened with any more is the responsibilites of leading a ninja death-cult in the shape of The Hand and other recent developments in his personal life. In an afterword in Shadowland #5, Marvel CCO Joe Quesada explained that Matt’s recent imprisonment following the unveiling of his secret identity and the attack on his wife that left her insane were ‘a whole lotta tragedy for even a tragic figure to bear’ and so Shadowland was used to ‘wipe the slate clean’. As much as the slate has been wiped clean though, writers Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston had one more trick up their sleeve at the end of Daredevil #512…
4. Matt Murdock: Murderer
The closing pages of Daredevil this month saw the return of Matt Murdock’s inner monologue – something which had been conspicuously absent for the duration of Diggle and Johnston’s work on the title. This was undoubtedly a conscious choice on the writers’ part, as it prevented readers from truly understanding just how much Matt Murdock was in control of his actions throughout Shadowland, and added an interesting layer of mystery to the event. The most hotly-debated action in the book was the hero’s brutal slaying of his arch-nemesis Bullseye – many readers couldn’t believe DD capable of such an act, and so presumably breathed a sigh of relief as the event progressed and it was revealed that Matt was possessed by The Hand’s demon-de-rigeur, The Beast. Presumably then, they’ll be surprised by Matt Murdock’s confession in the final page of Daredevil #512 that he was still perfectly in control of himself when Bullseye was slain. This action isn’t without precedent – we’ve witnessed Murdock let Bullseye drop to his death in Frank Miller’s classic Daredevil #181, and even seen him fantasize about it in Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s swansong Daredevil (Vol 2) #81 – it certainly adds an new and fascinating wrinkle to his character, and we’ll be interested to see where it leads, especially when Bullseye is inevitably resurrected. Of course, while DD’s away from New York with this on his conscience, someone needs to fill his shoes, if only temporarily…
5. Black Panther takes over
Since he’s not been up to much since being ousted from his own title by his sister, T’Challa – the Black Panther – inherits the mantle of The Man Without Fear with the re-titled Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513. Black Panther appeared at the end of Daredevil #512 to claim Hell’s Kitchen as his own, although as yet his reasons for doing so and leaving his homeland of Wakanda are a mystery. Written by novelist David Liss, the most exciting feature of this book is that it’s wall-to-wall artwork from rising talent Francesco Francavilla, who is currently making a name for himself with American Vampire writer Scott Snyder in the current Jim Gordon Detective Comics ‘second feature’, which has just the right hint of David Mazzuchelli – one of the all-time great DD artists – about it. His art’s pulp aesthetic will be a great fit for the grimy underworld of Hell’s Kitchen, and you could do worse than to kill a few hours pouring over his gorgeous work at his blog.
Will Diggle return Daredevil to greatness? Will Daredevil return to reclaim his numbering from Black Panther? These are questions that will be answered in the coming months. For now Daredevil is down, but not out – and any Daredevil fan will tell you that’s where he thrives best.
Antony Johnson’s Shadowland: After The Fall one-shot hits the stands this Wednesday, December 8th. Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513 appears December 15th, and Daredevil Reborn #1 follows in January.