Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bliss of Spring and Dynamite Comics' The Shadow

Ah, Spring. It's wondrous power has taken hold of me. All I want during this season, as its cool breezes waft in through the open windows of my home, is to find a good read and a comfy blanket. No matter how good the read, though, a nap tends to follow. 

Recently, before succumbing to unconscious bliss I decided to read the first issue of Dynamite Comics' The Shadow, penned by Garth Ennis, featuring the artwork of Aaron Campbell with a variety of cover art by several big names in the comic book industry (my cover of choice featured the work of Alex Ross). I'm very much a fan of The Shadow and have been for a long time. I grew up listening to audio cassettes of the old radio episodes and had several family members who knew and would often dramatically recite the familiar line (especially after the Baldwin film from the 90s), "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"

This new version, not the first comic to feature the classic hero, sets up what is sure to be an exciting and exceptional arc. Set in the period of old WWII, the book opens on an account of the savagery of the Japanese towards the Chinese, and in the flashback/exposition the Asian ties to Lamont Cranston/The Shadow are somewhat laid out. From there Ennis goes on to bring us into Cranston's life after some Shadow action on the docks of his city home.

Ennis didn't stray far this issue from the original form of the character, like Kevin Smith chose to do with Green Hornet. He even kept characters like Margot Lane, who apparently is more than just a mere gal Friday to our hero. Regarding Ms. Lane, I'm certain that in my youthful ignorance I failed to see that Lane and Cranston were more than chums. This world and its characters are given a sort of form through the respectable artwork of Campbell. He depicts a Shadow who fits perfectly alongside the character my mind's eye beheld throughout my childhood.

This issue was a great introduction/reintroduction to the world of the master of minds, the wielder of nickel-plated twin .45s, the man with knowledge of the evil of men's minds. I very much look forward to reading this series, and I hope that Ennis and Campbell continue to remain faithful to the world of this beloved crime fighter. The Shadow #1 shall be given four stars out of five. Now to pass out for a while as Spring again wafts in through a nearby window.

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