Posted on: April 18th, 2012 REVIEW: The Shadow #1

The Shadow 1-John CassadayI’ve got a weird fascination with vintage things. Old clothes, home decor, cook books, people-I love it all. So, naturally, my favorite kind of music is of the older persuasion. We have an AM radio station here in Colorado called 1430 KEZW. In the evenings they run “When Radio Was”. It’s basically just a radio show that plays old-time radio dramas and comedies. That was my first introduction to The Shadow. No, Alec Baldwin wasn’t first. I didn’t read any of the pulp fiction. I just know Orson Welles and Agnes Moorehead. And let me tell you, I dig the radio show. And then Garth Ennis walked in.

We all know how much I love Garth Ennis, yes? Trust me, I do. But let’s just say that he’s a wee bit darker than the writers of 1930s radio programming. Shall we set my nostalgia aside for a moment?

Conceptually speaking, I really like the premise of The Shadow #1. We’re waist-deep in a Japanese/Chinese turf war in New York. The Shadow’s doing his thing: killing ne’er do wells, being spooky, knowing stuff. And his alter-ego Lamont Cranston is being charming and annoyingly prophetic-like he does. His sassy, female ‘love’ interest Margo Lane is being sassy and sexy-like she does.

It’s pretty clear that this interpretation of the character is swaying more towards that of the radio character. Margo exists, for one thing, and knows that Lamont is The Shadow-a helpful relationship to have on hand when he needs a spy.

Am I surprised at the amount of blood? I shouldn’t be, right? It is Garth Ennis. He’s not known for tip-toeing around death, violence and destruction. Tonally, the book just feels so much like the radio program, the adult themes throw me off. Now, art-wise, I think they nailed it. I really, really like Carlos Lopez’s colors; especially during the sequences with The Shadow. Aaron Campbell’s art, specifically his inks, are terrific. The amount of detail he is able to convey through shadows is impressive-particularly in the backgrounds. And I like his Margo. I look forward to reading more Margo.

Orson Welles ShadowThat’s right. I’m reading more. I’m struggling with balancing my kitchy love of the radio drama and the darker material of the comic. But I got goosebumps when I read the “Evil lurks in the hearts of men” line. As a comic book, this isn’t a great first issue. It doesn’t do much to drive you into buying the second issue. As a tribute to a classic fictional character, it’s great. Much like Dynamite’s reincarnations of Green Hornet. So if you’re looking for a new item on the pull list, hold off for a bit and we’ll see where this goes. If you’re a Shadow fan, definitely pick it up.

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