“The Shadow Now” #1 focuses on the classic Lamont Cranston character, but wraps him up in modern-day affairs thanks to writer David Liss and artist Colton Worley. The visuals capably modernize the legend of the Shadow even as Liss’ monologging titular character effuses the noir world of a bygone era.
Colton Worley’s artwork is so heavily photo-referenced that some scenes appear to be more fumetti than drawing, whether those drawings are created digitally or otherwise. There are panels that seem quite painterly, evocative of Alex Ross’ work, but more than not Worley’s art is photo-based. Unfortunately, that leads to some pretty stiff characters, especially when motion is critical to the panels, but Worley largely overcomes that with choice camera angles and dynamic page layout. The artist employs page layouts that become pieces of art when taken as a whole. In addition to the chilling white letters on black word balloons for the Shadow’s speaking, letterer Rob Steen uses an appropriate Art Deco font for the location captions, giving the book a visual wink and a nod to the earlier days of the Shadow’s escapades.
Liss pours a great deal of narration into the story through the voice of the Shadow. Given that this is the first issue of the story, establishing a new status quo while updating characters, settings and events, there is a substantial amount of exposition in “The Shadow Now” #1, but that shouldn’t be the case moving forward. Liss does a very good job of explaining the world that Shadow has returned to and the captions drive and define the motivation of the dark defender. There’s no mistaking the Shadow’s dedication to his cause, so it is only appropriate that this issue also features the return of one of the Shadow’s greatest foes: Shiwan Khan.
Liss and Worley make a formidable creative coupling for the adventures of the network and fieldwork of the Shadow. The conclusion to “The Shadow Now” #1 is gripping despite the cliche of it all. Liss doesn’t telegraph the final scene, but it doesn’t come as an overwhelming surprise. Like the rest of the issue, it falls into place, updating the story for today while affirming that the Shadow can still, indeed, be relevant in our time.