daredevil505It’s quite possible that Daredevil is Marvel’s most consistently good book. Although it hasn’t scaled the heights of Bendis’ run since he left, the series has only very rarely been anything less than entertaining since it was relaunched over a decade ago. This issue is evidence enough that Andy Diggle’s current run as writer will continually live up to that tradition.

In this issue, Matt and the White Tiger visit Japan for a meeting with the Hand’s leaders – a bunch of crusty old guys and one upstart punk, all of whom aren’t massively pleased at the direction that Murdock has taken the Hand. For this arc, Diggle is joined by writer Anthony Johnston and penciler Marco Checchetto, both of whom complement Diggle excellent. Although it’s hard to tell where one creator begins and the other ends, the book is as exciting and dynamic as as it’s been in years – no mean feat, when the book is practically overflowing with generic Hand ninjas.

It helps that the creative team are nailing the Hand down into a more tightly-defined organisation, structurally speaking, rather than depicting them as merely endless hordes of ninjas. The morality of Murdock’s place running the Hand – as well as the actions of its members themselves – is constantly under examination, and White Tiger is cast rather expertly as the reader’s voice of doubt over what’s going on.

The only thing about the issue that gives me pause to worry is the second mention in as many months of “Shadowland”. One of the title’s strengths over the last few years has been its self-contained nature, but Shadowland was mistakenly announced as a crossover/event inhabiting Marvel’s “street-level” books. With the lead-in apparently under way, the same pangs of malaise that have accompanied any mention of Siege are rearing their head for Daredevil. The idea of Shadowland itself – a secret prison Matt and the Hand are building beneath the city – is an almost shocking idea – but I have my doubts as to whether it’ll be interesting enough to form the basis of a big crossover.