Guest Writer: Brent Griffis
This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Where to even begin with this one? Si Spurrier and Dan Watters have given their readers a great gift – a SHADOW truly updated for modern times. The dark, eerie mystery of the pulp hero is pulled, painfully, into the sharp and unforgiving light of contemporary social unrest. As someone who frequently listened to the radio show as a youth, I appreciated the acknowledgement of our titular hero’s wide-reaching (and probably ill-advised) influence.
Our point-of-view protagonist for this issue is “almost-doctor” Mary Jerez. Refreshingly, she is no frail damsel in need of rescue. Mary’s first course of action is to confront a man face-to-face who had previously tried to kill her. Only after squaring with this trauma does Mary visit the decrepit, decaying Shadow. Convalescing in a guarded hospital room, it’s only after Mary is able to reach into his mind with hypnotic trigger words do we get a vision of the cloaked crusader of old.
Artists Daniel HDR and Ricardo Jaime use light and dark in interesting and deeply emotive ways. Each character shows a range of emotions that stops just short of being over-the-top. The muted colors make each source of light feel uncomfortably bright, sending the reader’s eyes scurrying back to the deep, rich details in the darker sections of the panels. Clever, clever, clever.
The roof-top battle, featuring a squad of anonymous Agents of the Shadow, feels a bit like a page from Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, but this could be unavoidable given that the main crux of both stories (aging hero must return to combat a new brand of evil) is such a classic plot.
In a brief interlude near the end of the issue, we are shown how the Shadow has dealt with being made obsolete since his heyday. No longer is this a world of petty con-men and jewelry thieves, but a vicious new generation of cruelty, selfishness and random violence. Against this new world order of totalitarianism, what good is a man in a hat and cloak? As he says himself, “The Shadow…no longer knows.” But as readers, this issue leaves us waiting with bated breath to find the answer.