Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: THE SHADOW: Year One #2


WRITER: Matt Wagner
ARTIST: Wilfredo Torres
COLORS: Brennan Wagner
LETTERS: Simon Bowland
COVERS: Matt Wagner (A), Alex Ross (B), Chris Samnee (C), Howard Chaykin (D)
The Shadow created by Walter B. Gibson
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

The Shadow began as the mysterious narrator of the radio series, Detective Story Hour. Then, pulp writer Walter B. Gibson, under the pen name Maxwell Grant, fully developed the character into the one we know, the mysterious crime-fighting vigilante with psychic powers. The Shadow became a pop culture icon. The character is no stranger to comics, having debuted in a daily newspaper comic strip in 1940 and also starring in a comic book series that ran during the 1940s, entitled Shadow Comics.

In 2012, The Shadow returned to comic books via Dynamite Entertainment. Dynamite’s latest release featuring the dark avenger who knows about fear lurking in hearts is The Shadow: Year One, a new miniseries from writer Matt Wagner and artist Wilfredo Torres. The adventure begins in Cambodia, 1929 and moves to New York City on October 30, 1929. That’s when wealthy, world traveler and adventurer, Lamont Cranston, becomes The Shadow and begins a war on crime in America.

As The Shadow: Year One #2 opens, The Shadow rescues Margo Lane, a mobster’s sex toy (a.k.a. “piece of ass”) from that mobster’s goons, Vinnie and Sal. You see, Ms. Lane is or was Guiseppe “Joe” Massaretti’s lover, but he didn’t need her services anymore and wanted to get rid of her permanently. Surprisingly, Ms. Lane recognizes her rescuer. Meanwhile, a young reporter continues to track Cranston, as a mob war begins.

Writer Matt Wagner uses The Shadow: Year One #2 to establish what are likely to be the dominate plot lines of this miniseries. This is a dialogue-heavy issue, so the emphasis is on establishing the personalities, conflicts, motivations, etc. of the cast – besides The Shadow. Surprisingly, Wagner’s exposition (which appears in the caption boxes) is stiff and kinda dull. This is surprising because Wagner, a veteran writer/artist and comic book scribe, is usually in top form. So far, The Shadow: Year One has not been anywhere near his best work.

This issue, the art by Wilfredo Torres looks like a broken-down version of David Mazzuchelli’s art for Batman: Year One. The compositions are arthritic, and the figure drawing is awkward. Both Wagner and Torres are capable of better, and I’m sure or I hope they will deliver better in future issues.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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