Monday, June 2, 2014

I Reads You Review: THE SHADOW: Midnight in Moscow #1


WRITER/ARTIST: Howard Chaykin
COLORS: Jesus Aburto
LETTERS: Ken Bruzenak
COVER: Howard Chaykin with Jesus Aburto
VARIANT COVERS: Howard Chaykin
The Shadow created by Walter B. Gibson
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

Rated T+

In the beginning, The Shadow was as a mysterious radio narrator.  Then, pulp writer Walter B. Gibson fully developed the character into the iconic and mysterious crime-fighting vigilante with psychic powers.  The Shadow became a pop culture icon and 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, Dynamite Entertainment returned The Shadow to comic books with a new ongoing series.  However, The Shadow once prowled about DC Comics, including a stint in the mid to late 1980s.  It began with The Shadow #1 (cover dated: May 1986), the first issue of a four-issue miniseries.  Written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, the series (eventually known as The Shadow: Blood & Judgment), was a revamp and modernization of The Shadow for the sublimated sex and consequence-free violence that was pop culture in the 1980s.

Howard Chaykin returns to The Shadow in a new miniseries, The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow, from Dynamite Entertainment.  The series features the classic Shadow, but looks at him about 20 years into his crime-fighting career.

The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow #1 (Part 1) opens in New York City, late December 1949.  With the help of his agent, Jericho Druke, The Shadow stops a gold-heist masterminded by Benedict Stark, the self-proclaimed “Prince of Evil.”  As the 1940s prepare to give way to the 1950s, however, Lamont Cranston/Kent Allard is ready to put The Shadow to rest.  Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a plot that threatens the world begins to formulate in London.

For a time, I was a huge fan of The Shadow.  I read the books that collected the old pulp stories.  I read the comics.  I even found a few cassette recordings of the old radio series.  Last year, I read part of The Shadow: Year One, the miniseries by writer Matt Wagner and artist Wilfredo Torres that took readers back the very beginnings of The Shadow’s crime-busting career in NYC.

Chaykin’s 1980s miniseries began with a bang and lots of blood.  The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow #1 is a molasses-slow setup for the series.  There is nothing here that stands out except Jesus Aburto’s colors, which make even dour London seem like a hoppin’ place.  The colors make the Big Apple sparkle with magic and potential.  I am going to come back for the second issue.

I would probably give The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow #1 a “C” or “C+” grading.  However, I will hold off because there isn’t enough here to really praise or condemn it.

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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