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10 Things You Need To Know Before You Read ‘Shadowland’

With this weeks’ release of “Shadowland” #1, Marvel kicks a new crossover into high gear as Daredevil takes over the Hand and claims Hell’s Kitchen for his own, taking on DD’s fellow vigilantes in the process. But how exactly did we get here? If that’s the question you’ve been asking — perhaps because you’ve been sleeping on one of Marvel’s most consistently awesome titles — don’t worry: Your pals at ComicsAlliance have your back. Today, we’re catching you up with 10 Things You Need To Know to get ready to jump on the street-level mayhem of “Shadowland!”

1. Daredevil’s been having a pretty rough time since about 1981.


Originally created to be a swashbuckling hero in the style of the incredibly popular Spider-Man, Matt Murdock eventually diverged onto a separate path that was pretty much set in stone when writer/artist Frank Miller took over for a definitive five-year run. Under Miller and most everyone who came after (with the notable exception of Karl Kesel and Cary Nord, who did a distinctly more lighthearted run that’s often unfortunately overlooked), “Daredevil” essentially became super-heroic crime noir, with stories that played on both a physical and psychological edge, pushing Matt Murdock to the brink again and again.
Even his enemies were slowly retooled to fit the new direction: The Kingpin, who started out as a Spider-Man foe with a gimmick (he’s not fat, he’s strong!) and a cane that shot lasers, became a villain who symbolized organized crime itself. Even lower tier guys like the Owl were recast as super-powered mob bosses, trading their goofiness for a menace that matched the protagonist. And also there were ninjas. Because ninjas are awesome.

Daredevil’s personal life has also been notably tragic, most due to the fact that any woman who even smiles at him on the subway gets blown up by mobsters. College sweetheart Elektra was stabbed by Bullseye, long-time girlfriend Karen Page went to California to become an actress and ended up hooked on heroin and starring in porn before coming back and also getting stabbed by Bullseye, and Milla Donovan, who was married to Daredevil, ended up being driven insane and hospitalized, with her parents suing Murdock until he finally divorced her and released her into their care.

He’s essentially been going through the first half of “Knightfall” every month for the past thirty years, and that sort of takes a toll on a man.

2. Daredevil does not play well with others.
Unlike Spider-Man (who had a 150-issue book about teaming up with other heroes) and Wolverine (a self-described “loner” who is also an Avenger, X-Man, part-time member of Power Pack and so on) Daredevil’s never really been much of a joiner. Maybe it’s just the nature of his stories, but aside from the forgettable “Marvel Knights,” he doesn’t team up with too many super-heroes.

There are exceptions, of course, most notably that he’s had a pretty good friendship with Luke Cage. Of course, this being comics, their “friendship” tends to look a lot like this:

Other than Luke, Daredevil’s most notable relationship with another hero is far more adversarial:

Daredevil and the Punisher have been at odds since the first moment they met, for the simple reason that one of them was devoted to the justice system, while the other was devoted to meting out his own brand of justice. Now, however, with the Punisher prominently featured on the “Shadowland” #1 cover, Daredevil in charge of a criminal organization full of assassins and preview pages that at least lead us to think he’s gone over the edge and started killing people himself, it looks like they might have a lot more in common.

Really though, unless you count Foggy “Guts” Nelson, he’s never been one for sidekicks, partners, or groups. Which is probably why what happened in “Daredevil” #500 was so shocking.

3. Daredevil has recently become the Shogun of the Hand.

After years of trying to get Daredevil to join up, the evil Ninja clan known as the Hand (the same people who resurrected Elektra and brainwashed Wolverine) turned to the Kingpin instead, only to have Daredevil show up at his initiation and agree to take charge:

This means that now, Daredevil has to face off against martial artist “Bruce” Leroy Green, the Last Dragon — wait, no, sorry. I was thinking of the Shogun of Harlem. Being the Shogun of the Hand means that he’s in control of a fanatically loyal mystical order of ninjas, although the day-to-day business of assassination and fighting Wolverine is delegated to five Daimyo, one for each continent on which the Hand operates.

As it stands, three of the Daimyo are holdouts from the existing hand opposed to Daredevil’s rulership (Makoto of Eurasia, Takashi of Japan and Yutaka of Africa), while two are people close to Daredevil that he has appointed to the task (Angela Del Toro, alias the White Tiger for North America, and Carlos LaMuerto, alias Black Tarantula for South America). Both White Tiger and Black Tarantula were killed and resurrected by the Hand, which usually results in the subject being completely reprogrammed to obey the organization’s will, but LaMuerto was able to overcome the programming through his healing powers, and did the same to White Tiger.

4. As Matt Murdock, Daredevil has isolated himself from his friends and family.
Since taking over the Hand, Daredevil has been avoiding contact with people he knew in his previous life, even going so far as to get himself fired from his own law firm. Ostensibly this was done to protect them, but it hasn’t really worked out that way: Foggy Nelson (Matt’s former law partner) has been disbarred, and Dakota North (Nelson, Murdock & Blake’s in-house investigator and the last person to have any sort of romantic relationship with Daredevil) has lost her investigator’s license.

Signs point to the Kingpin, who has been spending the last few months rebuilding his own criminal empire, just as Daredevil has taken control of a criminal empire of his own. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to dismantle Matt Murdock’s civilian life, but it is the first time Daredevil’s been too busy to stop him. In isolating himself from his friends in order to protect them, Daredevil has instead left them vulnerable to attack.

5. Daredevil has decided to use the Hand for his own purposes.

Despite warnings from darn near everyone that the Hand can corrupt even the most noble intentions — what with the whole thing where they’re magical mind-controlling ninjas and all — Daredevil’s mission in taking over has been to lead them away from the whole assassination for hire bit.

Instead, he’s using them to stake his claim on Hell’s Kitchen, battling both the criminal element and the corrupt police and government officials that resulted from Norman Osborn being in charge of H.A.M.M.E.R, especially given how the events of “Dark Reign” hit his neighborhood.

6. During “Dark Reign,” Bullseye blew up a building and killed 107 people.

When the residents of an apartment building refused to move out as a protest against Oscorp’s planned demolition of their home, Norman Osborn decided to kill two birds with one gigantic explosion by sending Bullseye to kill Daredevil. Bullseye rigged the building with explosives and lured Daredevil there for a fight, and while Daredevil survived, he now has to live with the fact that 107 people were killed by a man that he allowed to live, for no other reason than to mess with him.

This was the turning point in Daredevil’s mission with the Hand, and his decision to take control of Hell’s Kitchen himself.

7. This is not the first time Daredevil has tried to take control of Hell’s Kitchen…

Back during the Brian Bendis run, Daredevil’s response to the Kingpin’s return was to beat the living crap out of him, throw him through a window into a dive bar, and then declare himself the Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. This was not a very popular move with his friends in the cape-and-tights business:

In essence, the problem was that while Daredevil saw himself as a new Kingpin who had eliminated crime, the rest of the world saw a power vacuum that had come from crime just moving to a different neighborhood. Before long, Hell’s Kitchen became embroiled in a gang war as different factions (led by the Yakuza) tried to take control from their “rival gang,” which amounted to exactly one man with a bunch of other stuff to worry about.

8. …but this is the first time he’s done it with an actual army helping him out.

This time around, rather than trying to eliminate the gangs, Daredevil has replaced them with his own. And his own are, in fact, magic ninjas.

9. For the past few months, the Hand has been constructing “Shadowland” on Daredevil’s Orders…

Since taking over the Hand, Daredevil has been living in their secret dungeons beneath New York, and for a guy with a super-enhanced sense of smell, I imagine living in a sewer flat-out sucks.

Now, with Norman Osborn removed from power due to the events of “Siege,” The Hand has acquired the site of the apartment building Bullseye blew up, land is now building Shadowland, a new headquarters for their New York operations. Solicitations have referred to it as a “temple,” but it’s safe to assume that it’s also going to contain a dungeon to hold the prisoners that Daredevil took during his war on H.A.M.M.E.R.:

Either way, it’s meant to be a stronghold for Daredevil and his plans to wrest control of the Hand from his rivals.

10. …but what Daredevil doesn’t know is that the other leaders of the Hand have their own plans for Shadowland.

And not only that, but they’ve got their own operative in Daredevil’s organization: White Tiger, whose Hand conditioning has reasserted itself.

Or has it? Despite the fact that she murdered one of the other Daimyo against Daredevil’s orders and took his place, it could all be part of Daredevil’s master plan — the entire story arc has been full of double agents, betrayals and big reveals, and “Shadowland” promises to be more of the same.

And now you’re ready to read it!

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