Review: The Shadow #1

Cover by Alex Ross

Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Rob Steen

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Dynamite have been reviving a lot of pulp characters lately, and frankly I’ve been avoiding much of what they’ve been putting out. Not the least of which because they’ve been pumping out so many different titles that it’s been easy to just ignore. I was intrigued by The Green Hornet, but did there really have to that many titles crowding the market? Also, it’s been hard to notice that the good creative teams they nab, generally don’t stick around for long. Alas, Garth Ennis writing The Shadow was enough to pique my interest regardless. And you know what? I’m glad it did, because this was an enjoyable read.

Ennis and Campbell get the flavor just right, and that’s a big reason why I enjoyed this comic-book. It’s perfect to get lost in that noir image of the late 1930s. The issue starts with an overview of the atrocities committed by Japan in China during the 1930s and 40s. This is all narrated by the Shadow, and is our introduction to the character. In a few short pages the action switches to New York, and we get to see him in action as he masterfully takes down some thugs.

The second part of the issue deals with Lamont Cranston, the Shadow’s alter ego, as he meets a few gentlemen, who work in the intelligence business. Here we’re introduced to the intrigue. The past night’s actions all tie together, and there seems to be some kind of artifact that both the Japanese and Americans are after. What is not clear yet, but is sure to be elucidated in issues to come. What we do learn is that Lamont Cranston is a very calculated and cool individual that can come off as a bit of a jerk. This is only underscored by his interaction with Margo Lane in the closing pages of the issue.

In any event, this first issue is a good introduction to the character, both as the Shadow and his alter-ego Lamont Cranston. Beyond that the details are still vague, but this only serves to intrigue the reader. I’m certainly curious to keep reading. In other cases I might be worried that this is the result of shoddy writing, but Ennis is enough to assuage such fears. Also, his attention to details like the Shadow’s ability to see a person’s future, and how this is different for a child versus an adult, is enough to demonstrate that there’s nothing to worry about.

I do have a few nitpicks, like the coloring not being consistent. In one instance a character who is definitely not Cranston, is suddenly colored as though he was, and it’s clearly wrong. There’s also a poorly done newspaper headline, that clearly looks like text overlayed on art. These are small details to pick out, but they do detract from the otherwise spot on atmosphere.

Anyway, this title is well worth checking out. Sure Ennis might not stick around for long, but until then this should be interesting, and who knows, could be good afterwards too. I’ll definitely be back next month.

About: Alex

Alex is the guy that runs and edits this blog. He’s been reading comics for as long as he’s been able to read, and somewhere along the way started forming opinions that extended beyond just Batman is cool, or Spider-Man is awesome, and more importantly decided to share these. Lately, he’s been getting a little burned out on mainstream comics, but has found solace in the indie world. There’s also his inhuman love of heavy metal, but we do not speak of that.

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