One of the few books I still buy in issue form is Daredevil.  I also just finished re-reading the entire Bendis-through-Brubaker runs.  It’s some of the best work you’ll ever read.  The Bendis run is best read in chunks because nothing much seems to happen in any one single issue, despite the fact that the art is groundbreaking and the “wordless” issue, early in the run, is fantastic.  But over the course of the run, the story develops inexorably, gradually, and surprisingly.  It’s longform storytelling unlike anything in comics (other than, perhaps, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead).  Through his term, Bendis brought Murdock to his knees, exposing his dual identity to the world (way before Civil War got the idea) and gradually turning him from a morally “chaotic good” character in to a chaotic neutral one.  At the end of the run, Bendis put DD in jail.  Which is where Ed Brubaker came in.  Now frankly, I think they could have kept DD in jail a lot longer—I think there were a lot of story elements that could have been explored there—but Ed’s run is solid nevertheless.  He continued to show Murdock’s slide down the moral scale, ending by positioning him as the head of his lifelong enemies—and Elektra’s compatriots—The Hand.  That’s where current writer Andy Diggle signed on.  Diggle is doing a good job so far—he may actually be better than Brubaker.

But here’s the rub: It’s so good, the editors have noticed.  And never ones to leave money on the table, Marvel will be expanding the brand in July to include, “Shadowland” and “Shadowland: Blood on the Streets.”  It’s kind of annoying, frankly, because I feel like I’m being forced to buy more stuff.  It may make me go to trades on DD.  I can’t tell if reading the Shadowland books will be essential to understanding the main title.  But griping to one side, the various series actually look like they’re going to be great.  I love “street” stories, and that’s what it’s all about.  For those who don’t know, Daredevil is now the leader of The Hand, and he is cleaning all the corruption that Osborn allowed into Hells Kitchen during Dark Reign.  In so doing, he’s built a prison under the city for all the folks he captures.

Blood on the Streets will be written by Antony Johnston and penciled by Wellinton Alves, and will feature the intriguing line up of Misty Knight, Paladin, Shroud and Silver Sable.  The crew are trying to stop Daredevil’s Hand from killing unconvicted mobsters.  For the uninitiated: Misty has a bionic arm and sword and was a partner of Power Man and Iron Fist back when.  She also appeared in the Iron Fist series by Brubaker and Fraction.  Paladin’s name tells you pretty much what you need to know about him.  Shroud is a mystical dude who is kinda like Cloak, and Silver Sable is a karate kinda character from wayback.

Marvel also revealed that Elektra Natchios will figure into the main “Shadowland” story and will even get her own one-shot, “Shadowland: Elektra,” written by Zeb Wells.  Zeb did a decent job on the “Dark Reign: Elektra” mini, but I wouldn’t say that that series was a total keeper.  The book will also feature Bullseye and the great old drunken ninja, Master Izo—one of my favorite Brubaker characters.

So, there’s certainly good talent lined up here for the various series and tie-ins.  But it’s not clear how much they’ll tie in with the main DD book.  Diggle has revealed that Murdock won’t appear in “Blood on the Streets,” but clearly the Hand will be in there.  Marvel has made some disastrous continuity screw ups lately, revealing in tie-ins the endings of Siege #4 and Heroic Age #2 before those books came out—let’s hope they figure it all out here.  And let’s hope Shadowland/Blood can be read on their own merits as well.  Because I intend to wait for the trade collection to read it.

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