In December, Dynamite announced that it would launch a new project in 2015 – Altered States – a collection of unrelated comics that feature familiar characters in unfamiliar settings, and sometimes, states.
Altered States: The Shadow – One Shot is one such comic. The tag line for the comic, and I’m paraphrasing here, is that there are worse things in the universe than evil men. This standalone issue finds our psychic anti-hero transported across space and time, the temporary prisoner of an entity called E.D.E.N., and forced to fight for his astral existence. Or so it seems.
For most of the comic we’ve no idea what is happening, or if anything is happening at all, as the issue opens with The Shadow meditating in his sanctum, apparently recently returned from an outing. The book is largely without dialogue or even narration; the effect for the reader is just as disorienting as that of Cranston’s new-found “reality”.
Somehow it works, however, probably because of the nature of the character, and it’s my guess that the spartan approach at word use is an attempt not to “cloud men’s minds” (had to do it) and bring in a new generation of readers who aren’t as familiar with the Batman prototype.
The artwork in the book is serviceable, bolstered in no small part by Ribeiro’s fantastic and complex use of color. The notion that the action in the book takes place outside of the normal restraints of physics translates well as a miasma of shifting hues surrounds a lot of the fight scenes; throw in a few monstrous foes and you’ve got a recipe for inter-dimensional chaos.
If there is a drawback to the book, it’s that it is a one-shot. The setup here is really more suited to a continuing run, as there’s not much resolved by issue’s end. It might be nice to see The Shadow get a reboot a à la The Phantom 2040, or even Dynamite’s own King line. This comic seems like the perfect launch for something like that, and with the recent announcement that Eisner’s The Spirit is making a comeback ( a character that also happens to be the property of the good folks over at Dynamite), who knows?
Ok, that was the last one, seriously. If you’re in the market for an action-packed comic that requires no serious commitment, grab this book, take a seat and savor the moment.