In Review: The Shadow: Year One #5
The covers: A fabulous four for you to find! Matt Wagner, the series’ writer, does Cover A with a classic looking Shadow atop a building, his pistols drawn, yet still able to drape an unconscious beauty across his arms. Great! Cover B is by Alex Ross and it’s explosive for its imagery and color. A woman–Margo?–faces an explosion, while just outside the outburst is the Shadow, looking at the woman. Tremendous! Chris Samnee does a Will Eisner-esque Shadow standing above the city, the book’s logo providing his footing. Awesome! Cover D is the winner again for me, courtesy Howard Chaykin who has Margo holding a gun and our hero assisting her. Dynamite stuff, and I love the electric blue in the background! Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A, and D A+
The story: Matt Wagner continues this incredible saga with another excellent installment of the Shadow’s first year in the states. The book has a two fold focus. The first is Margo Lane and her continuing fall for Lamont Cranston. She’s fallen hard for him, yet his continuing disappearances at night give her too many unanswered questions. The book opens with some pistol practice in Cranston’s house and the acquisition of a particular tool that will help her assist the Shadow. The second focus in on the Italian gangsters lamenting the lack of business their establishments have been getting. A plot is hatched, but not unnoticed by a laughing individual. The remainder of the book focuses on the scheme of this scum, with only the Shadow able to stop it. Margo becomes part of this plot, and on Page 21 she voices a concern that will change our title character. Fun, realistic, scary, awesome–This story continues, month after month, to have it all! Overall grade: A+
The art: I will say this in the most manly of ways: I love Wilfredo Torres. The opening establishment shot of Margo is amazing. The look on her face tells the reader before the dialogue is read that she’s not happy with what she’s doing. Cranston is the prefect picture of blasé leadership, whose true demeanor is hidden by the light. The reveal on Page 3 is violent and funny, with Margo’s reactions providing the humor. The street scene for the gangsters is great and I loved their conversation. For a scene with so much exposition, Torres is able to create great characterization with just the holding of a glass or a cigarette. The bottom of Page 9 is grotesque and a reminder of the bigger problem lurking behind the scenes. The scene beginning on Page 13 is classic and the faces, in addition to the action, sell it well. Wow, this is fine work! Overall grade: A+
The colors: Brennan Wagner gets a terrific opening scene to show Margo and Lamont outside of their usual dark backdrop. Margo is stunning, and her cool blue eyes only highlight her vulnerability against the force that’s coming out of her right hand. The explosive scene on Page 3 is nice, and the shading on her and her top is great. The interior of the gangster’s bar is subdued in dull browns and purples to match the subdued interior lights. Though there are no backgrounds in this sequence, Wagner skillfully creates shadows and highlights emotions with his work. And Pages 9 and 10 show how important color is in emphasizing shock. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Dialogue, narration, “spooky” dialogue on Page 10, and perfect sound effects on a bridge from Simon Bowland. Pages 14 through 19 are winners! Overall grade: A+
The final line: A must buy! This isn’t even over yet, but I feel if this is not released as a collected work in hardcover it would be an incredible disservice to fans. Amazing, month after month. Highest possible recommendation! Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s 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. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as possible, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.