Chain Reactions | <i>The Shadow #1</i>

This week Dynamite continued to bring the pulp with the release of The Shadow #1 by Garth Ennis, Aaron Campbell and Carlos Lopez.

The pulp character has known what evil lurks in the hearts of men since the 1930s, with his adventures being chronicled over the years in radio dramas, pulp magazines, television, movies and comic books. Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and even Archie Comics, among others, have published comics starring the character, with Dynamite being the latest. So what did folks think about this latest rendition of the character? Here's a sampling of reviews from around the 'net:

Alex C. Lupp, The Comic Age: "Ennis and Campbell get the flavor just right, and that’s a big reason why I enjoyed this comic-book. It’s perfect to get lost in that noir image of the late 1930s. The issue starts with an overview of the atrocities committed by Japan in China during the 1930s and 40s. This is all narrated by the Shadow, and is our introduction to the character. In a few short pages the action switches to New York, and we get to see him in action as he masterfully takes down some thugs."

Auburn Slavec, Giant Killer Squid: "Am I surprised at the amount of blood? I shouldn’t be, right? It is Garth Ennis. He’s not known for tip-toeing around death, violence and destruction. Tonally, the book just feels so much like the radio program, the adult themes throw me off. Now, art-wise, I think they nailed it. I really, really like Carlos Lopez’s colors; especially during the sequences with The Shadow. Aaron Campbell’s art, specifically his inks, are terrific. The amount of detail he is able to convey through shadows is impressive-particularly in the backgrounds. And I like his Margo. I look forward to reading more Margo."

PS Hayes, Geeks of Doom: "The Shadow is one of those characters that everyone knows, but when pressed for details, the average person won’t be able to name one thing about him. This issue is a treat for both fans of The Shadow and people who haven’t been exposed to the character before at all. Setting the book in the 1930s was perfect for two reasons, 1) That’s the era that this book belongs in and 2) Who wants to see The Shadow use an iPad 2? There’s a great air of mystery and suspense to this book that will easily get anyone who grabs the first issue to stick with the series. All the elements are there, but Ennis has some of them hidden, leaving them left for unwrapping in later issues. At its core, it’s just a great story. It’s not really an origin story at all, or a 'Year One' or even a 'first adventure;' it’s just the latest adventure with the audience joining along for the first time."

Walter Richardson, Multiversity Comics: "Joining Garth Ennis is Aaron Campbell, perhaps most well known for illustrating Matt Wagner's Green Hornet: Year One, and other Dynamite Entertainment titles. Much like his work on that book, Campbell is putting out some solid work on The Shadow. Campbell works best in the darkness — the shootout scene in this particular issue is visually striking, and reads with ease. His layouts aren't overly complex, but keep a steady variation in order to keep the reader interested in what is going on. Likewise, the ending scene on the balcony is aesthetically pleasing, with a sultry tone that fits the mixture of banter and serious discussion going on between The Shadow and Margo. The middle section, inside during the day, is not quite as solid; the panels read well, and the characters are expressive enough, but Campbell's pages don't seem to pop without adequate lighting, or a lack thereof. Still, Campbell is an incredibly underrated artist, and certainly isn't slouching in this issue."

Benjamin Bailey, IGN: "The only place the book suffers is in its art. Aaron Campbell does a great job with the scenes involving the title character. He does a great job with the war scenes. The darkness that creeps into those panels is great. The problem is that same darkness creeps into every scene in the book. There are so many shadows, so much black on the page, that it feels far too overdone. At one point, a boy runs by chasing his younger sister. Thanks to heavy inking, I thought it was a short old man chasing this little girl and laughing manically. The dialog cleared that up in the next few panels, but it was off-putting to say the least."

Ani Bester, The universe is waiting for me to get cocky: "One thing though, if you know the Shadow, you know is character is steeped in often racist Asian stereotypes, so how is Garth Ennis doing with the problematic issues inherent to this character? Well as when Captain America: Forever Allies used Lady Lotus as the villain, I'm in wait and see mode. So far I'd say he's done fairly well. The story does start by recounting what the Japanese did when they invaded China, but IMHO, this was presented in no worse a way than when comics go over what the Nazi's did, nor is it presented as happening because these people were Japanese, but rather because all humans are capable of great evil. So I don't feel it came off racist."

Scott Malthouse, The Trollish Delver: "This feels like the entrée before the main course. We're given a fleck of well-narrated violent action along with a truckload of exposition bloat and a side order of characterisation. As a premier issue it does its job, but we have to hope that Ennis can deliver on what he has built."

Jason Clyma, Broken Frontier: "Above all else, Garth Ennis’ new Shadow title is fun. Without hesitation, Ennis tosses readers back into the 1930s, where defined pulp characters live out their nights fighting crime, and their days lounging about with their companions and a nice cup of coffee. The clearly stated line between good and evil only adds to the enjoyment, where it is clear that good will eventually win the day."

Brian Hibbs, Savage Critics: "I was a little surprised how much I liked this. Well, maybe not, because it’s Garth — but there’s almost no Ennis-isms here (other than whatever is naturally baked into the character and supporting cast), just a great straight-forward, historically-appropriate period-piece version of the best of the character."

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