In Review: Shadow #14

The covers: There are several variant covers to purchase but there are four primary covers I’ll review. The first one is a stunner! Alex Ross has drawn the Shadow, hat off, head bowed, in a morgue full of corpses. Opposite him is a nun, holding the hand of someone ill, in a room full of the infirm. Great contrast and perfect image for this issue. Tim Bradstreet (the regular cover artist of IDW’s monthly Star Trek comic) created the second cover, also a stunner, showing the Shadow against the outline of the city, his gun firing. In his own shadow is a skeleton praying for mercy, while several skeletal hands are raised in supplication. Wow! Jason Shawn Alexander has the title character sitting atop a gargoyle in Batman mode. Behind him is a praying nun. This is also a killer cover! Francesco Francavilla (writer and artist of Dark Horse Comics’ The Black Beetle and cover artist to IDW’s Doctor Who: Prisoner of Time) has a gangster raising his tommy gun too late, for a pistol has been drawn against him as he is swallowed by justice’s shadow. Cool! Overall grades: Ross A+, Bradstreet A+, Alexander A, and Francavilla B

The story: This is my introduction to the monthly adventures of “He who knows what lurks in the hearts of men.” This is an amazing story from Chris Roberson! The first three pages are set in Asia where a young girl, living a terrible life, encounters a man who wants “…to teach you to see even more. To be even more.” Who is this man helping this girl? We don’t learn in this issue, but we see its effects on the double-paged spread of Pages 4 and 5 as the Shadow has interrupted this grown girl–now woman–who calls herself the Light. The two battle, bullets versus blades and I was riveted to every page. The second panel of Page 7: that’s not supposed to happen! Page 8′s second panel: that’s not supposed to happen! Page 9–No one can escape! What the heck is going on here, Roberson? I was a little fearful for the writer, knowing what would happen to him if the title character ever learned of what light he was being shown in. There is a great reveal at the bottom of Page 13 and the dialogue between the two characters that starts on Page 14 is perfection. Page 20 was inevitable, and I’m on pins and needles to see how this is all resolved. Overall grade: A+

The art: Holy cow! Why have I not heard of Giovanni Timpano? My ignorance has become a fantastic discovery! This is fantastic work! I loved the three page flashback origin and how the man’s features are not revealed due to the little girl’s height. The Shadow is menacingly gorgeous and his appearance in the lobby on Page 10 was a shocker! The scenes without the Shadow rarely match the scenes he’s in, but Timpano wows on Page 12 with an utterly real hospital, the close-ups in panels two and five on Page 13, a fantastic New York skyline, the shadow (and, yes, I meant lower case) on Page 16, the shock on Page 20, and everything on the last two pages. Timpano should never leave this book. Lock ‘im down, Dynamite. This artist is a keeper! Overall grade: A+

The colors: I don’t want to see Fabricio Guerra ever leave this book either! His coloring of the opening pages makes the book like photographs, not line art. Some colorists are content to color the Shadow black, but Guerra has light masterfully reflected off our hero in amazing fashion. The pencils are great on this book, but Guerra brings it to life. I believed every shot of New York because of him. Wow! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Not too many sound effects from Rob Steen, but what we get is good, as is the dialogue. Overall grade: A

The final line: Let me repeat, my ignorance has led to a wonderful discovery. This is why the Shadow has endured for so long. This is why so many writers and artists want to tackle this character. This superb book makes you believe in the magic of the character and inspires you to track down everything related to this character, hoping it lives up to the high standards set in this book. And this comic compels me to find out what I’ve been missing for the last thirteen months. Excellent! Overall grade: A+

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comics Buyers Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years, and only recently has been teaching 9th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.

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