Potentially running the risk of, appropriately it may seem, not being seen at first glance in your LCBS, due to a certain event from DC, Dynamite Comics continues it’s commitment to one the earliest of pulp crime fighters, The Shadow. This mini series, sees The Shadow in familiar territory, in New York taking on the Tongs of Chinatown. Thrown into the mix is a new element, a character who is seemingly able to hole their own against the Master of Darkness; the Red Empress.
The book is written and drawn by comic veteran Matt Wagner who is returning to The Shadow after the his work The Shadow: Year One and Grendel vs The Shadow and if there was ever a creator that fits a character (or vice versa), then this is it. Wagner’s Shadow is the classic version, taking on the classic villains. Under his skill hands, this book walks the line of familiarity breeding contempt. Instead, the book feels like a comfortable place, like the holiday destination you visit every year, that holds that piece of magic, that special place in your heart. This sentiment is part of the tease of the book, with Margo’s death teased, what piece of The Shadows heart does she hold and how will it’s loss affect him. Wagner’s dialogue is a perfect fit, as you would expect, for this story, setting the tone early and delivering the tropes and catchphrases with aplomb.
If Wagner’s writing is good, then the art is just plain fantastic. There is a dynamism to the action scenes, with scarf and long coat flowing with every twist and turn. Wagner’s style is distinctive, allowing for the characters to be instantly recognisable. What may be lacking from the thin line work of contemporary artist, Wagner more than makes up for with a style which conveys the action and emotions of any of the scenes in the book. In addition, the poses that he puts the Margo and Lamont in shows their effectiveness as a partners, both crime fighting and as a couple. Colors are supplied by Brennan Wagner who appears to be following his father into the family business. Brennan has gone for a subdued almost washed out look for the majority of the book, which in turns creates a contrast when stronger colors are used.
This is a book for fans of The Shadow. Whilst The Twilight Zone book may serve as a curiosity and is fun when showing the character living through his own media history, this book serves to show us what The Shadow’s world is all about, from different locations across the world to the weed of crime that grows in the garden of New York.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars