Grim_Noir Revisits The Scene of the Crime With The Shadow (mini-reviews)

Latest The Shadow covers

I can’t believe it has only been a year since Garth Ennis broke into my home, jumped up on my kitchen table, dropped his trousers and crapped in my corn flakes…

…Or, at least, that’s how I remember it when I opened up The Shadow #1 (at that self-same kitchen table) and found Dynamite Entertainment’s resident enfant terrible getting all Ennis-y with my favorite pulp fixture.

Fortunately, Dynamite jerked Ennis out of the saddle after that first story arc…

…Or, at least that’s how I choose to remember it. (Actually, Ennis left to work on his “I-wish-I-wrote-The-Shield” project, Red Team.)

Anyway, once the guy who openly hates superheroes stopped writing The Shadow, greatness could occur; and DID – threefold:

The Shadow #12

"The Shadow" issue 12

Title: The Shadow #12

Writer: Victor Gischler

Covers Art: Alex Ross, Tim Bradstreet, Sean Chen, Francesco Francavilla

Artist: Giovanni Timpano

Colorist: Ivan Nunes

Letterer: Rob Steen

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

There were some complaints about Victor Gischler being unable to write a “team” book, when he was writing X-Men. However, his hard-boiled style is well-suited to putting The Shadow, with his circle of operatives, squarely in the center of the action. With returning artist Aaron Campbell, Gischler managed to correct all of Ennis’ excesses in a single story arc. Gischler sent Lamont Cranston into the Spanish Civil War and a fateful encounter with George Orwell.

The Shadow #12 brings our main character back to New York for a stand-alone issue with guest artist Giovanni Timpano. Timpano’s evocative artwork and Gischler’s patter remind the reader that The Shadow is always six moves ahead of everybody else in the room; even when things go sideways from the original plan. I especially appreciated the return to playful banter between Lamont and Margo (the exchange in the middle of page 11 made me chuckle out loud). I just wish someone would tell colorist Ivan Nunes that Margo Lane is a brunette in the rest of the Dynamite universe (including the prior The Shadow #11).

Masks #6 (of 8)

"Masks" #6 Cover

Title: Masks #6

Writer: Chris Roberson

Covers Art: Alex Ross, Ardian Syaf, Stephen Segovia, Sean Chen

Artist: Dennis Calero

Letterer: Simon Bowland

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

Dynamite’s crossover event, Masks, is kind of like a pulp heroes Justice League. Since Bob Kane often credited The Shadow as an inspiration for Batman, it should come as no surprise that Chris Roberson’s The Shadow is portrayed as a driving force and master strategist for this ad-hoc team. Roberson’s unusual mix of experience on both Madman and Madame Xanadu give him a perfect insight into this character. Unfortunately, Dennis Calero’s artwork is journeyman: Often losing the details of the action in the stark, overlit graphics.

The Shadow: Year One #2 (of 10)

page from The Shadow: Year One #2

Title: The Shadow: Year One #2

Writer: Matt Wagner

Covers Art: Matt Wagner, Alex Ross, Chris Samnee, Howard Chaykin

Art: Wilfredo Torres

Colorist: Brennan Wagner

Letterer: Simon Bowland

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

“The eyes are the window to the soul,” the saying usually goes, but in the hands of artist Wilfredo Torres, the eyes are the portal to the weird and ethereal world of Lamont Cranston’s mind. Torres also has a light touch with the period automobiles and architecture that are a pleasure to peep.

Since The Shadow’s origins have been deliberately shrouded in mystery and mysticism, writer Matt Wagner walks a delicate line quite successfully in this “Year One” exercise: Introduce all of the audience favorites without giving away the whole story too quickly. Using Margo Lane as the voice to tell this tale is pitch-perfect. Lines like, “If the Devil ever had a laugh…I’m sure he wants it back,” crackle on the page and stayed with me for days after reading. Things have been evolving very organically and satisfactorily, so far.

If Wagner and Torres maintain this high standard, this miniseries could be the jewel in the crown of all of Dynamite’s The Shadow titles. I, for one, am rooting for them.

***

What a difference a year makes: Dynamite has brought in their literary biohazard team and scoured my mental kitchen clean of all their former fecal stench. Now, everything glistens and shines in the darkness the way it always should have.

…Or, at least that’s how I choose to remember it.

 

Ol' Grim Hisself

* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Facebook to end his self-delusions.

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4 Comments to “Grim_Noir Revisits The Scene of the Crime With The Shadow (mini-reviews)”

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  1. Kire says:

    Great reviews. I cannot recommend Gischler’s novels enough. They are superior acts of mayhem fiction.

  2. Grim_Noir says:

    Thanks, Kire! I have the same kind of fanboy reaction to The Shadow that J.D. has for Spidey or Optimus had for the X-folks :)

    It takes a special knack to write the rhythms of pulp and noir. After reading his “The Shadow” work, I have Gischler’s “Gun Monkeys” on a waiting list at the library. Will check in again once I’ve read it…

  3. jaydee says:

    Man I REALLY want to like these books. I just have such a hard time caring for some reason. It’s a shame. I do love that cover up there though with the scarf making the woman’s face.

    THAT is some snazzy designings!

  4. Grim_Noir says:

    @Jaydee, it is just the time period, maybe? Has there been anything in a 1930s-1940s setting that has really fired your imagination…?

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