Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Shadow #1

   It's difficult to understand why a classic character like The Shadow is so rarely handled properly.

   He's been around since the '30s, starting in the pulps, then migrating to radio, movies, and (of course) comic books.

   As a man of mystery, he has sometimes been depicted as a regular man who operates in the shadows, at other times as a man of mysterious powers that allow him to control minds, merge with shadows and control assorted mystic abilities.

   Many think of him as the model for Batman, fighting crime and bizarre (but human) villains. His appearance is striking, with the black overcoat, the red scarf, the slouch hat, the hook nose, blazing eyes, and his trademark blazing .45s.

   In his stories he always is depicted as a terror, a virtually invincible force of nature, tracking down the evil creatures who threaten society.

    Perhaps the biggest flaw is that he never seems - well, human. His alter ego, Lamont Cranston, is just another mask, and his personality isn't much different from The Shadow's. We can root for him to defeat the bad guys, to escape the death traps, we can admire his skill, his indomitable spirit - but he is ultimately unknowable, a cipher.

   This restart is another opportunity to start fresh, although the story actually started with issue #0 (hey, it's another pet peeve!). The Shadow is facing off against a Society of United Magicians, once a benevolent group organized by the late great Harry Houdini, but now the group is pursuing evil, mystic purposes.

    So is the Shadow now entering into supernatural territory? It may (or may not) be a good fit for the hero.

   This "first" issue is a good way to judge - it's just a dollar, and a good way to decide if this is your cup of tea... or not.

   So far, it's better than most, but the character's full potential hasn't been realized - yet.

Grade: B



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