Dynamite Entertainment 2015
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Giovanni Timpano
Coloured by Marco Lesko
Previously in the Shadow!* Secrets of the Shadow's past were revealed as the Dark Avenger met Master Magician Harry Houdini! The Shadow infiltrated a sanctum of an esoteric society of murderous magicians who were hellbent on escaping the ultimate trap--death itself! In order to thwart their plans, all of the Shadow’s skills were tested as he evaded twisted traps and solved spellbinding puzzles. Now, the sect have again turned their maleficent focus once again towards The Shadow!
Sometimes there are creators who just seem to have this magical fit with a character and are able to bring them to life in the most unexpected and thrilling of ways. Cullen, Giovanni and Marco are such creators. From the subject matter to the interior artwork and how it all plays out beautifully for the reader you forget that the Shadow was a pulp character or ever fell out of favour. This new series is off to such a magnificent start it’s almost hard to imagine where it can go once this arc is over.
One of the things i’ve always personally noticed over the on again off again reading of the Shadow’s adventrues is the he comes across the same way all the time. Very little variation in his personality and for whatever reason he always seems hard and cold to me. Even as Lamont he has this feel about him that you’ll never crack that veneer. The opening of this issue does away with that for me and it’s remarkably human to see him visit his old friend. For the first time I feel a connection to the Shadow that i’ve never felt before and as surprising as that is I really like it.
Giovanni and Marco on page three have this stone statue of something close ot an Angel holding a lantern in one hand a staff in the other and it’s one fo the more memorable and powerful images here.
I’m sorry as silly as this collection of magicians seems to me there is also something infinitely fascinating about them as well. Why not have this organization of men band together to find the greatest secrets of magic ever created. Along the way let them lose their sense of purpose and become entangled in the ravings of lunacy at their own self importance and longing for immortality. What we know of magicians nowadays are the same things these men practice, illusions, sleight of hand the trickery of the mind that kind of stuff but in their desire for real power they’ve pretty much gone over to the dark side never to return.
What Cullen manages to do here with such powerful ease is demonstrate man’s own greed and desire. Yes these men are in a brotherhood but they are not family or even friends they all want the same thing and undoubtedly would kill the rest to retain the secrets for themselves. When Ethan Sands, the Sandman, enters the story you immediately don’t like him, his vibe thanks to the art is palpable. What he brings to the table however aside from his desire to kill the Shadow needs to be seen to be believed.
The characterization throughout this issue is amazingly good and if feels like it’s so much longer than a mere twenty four pages in length. That’s how you tell what truly great writer can do make you feel like you’ve read more than there is without any of it feeling rushed or skimmed over. So much happens here with these characters in their continuing quest to destroy the other. Part of me hopes neither side wins then after all there’s hope for another massive face off down the road, leaving the Shadow with an arch-nemesis if you will.
This really is for me much different than any previous series, it’s more approachable, enjoyable and relatable than ever before.