REVIEW: The Shadow #2

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Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Does that person also know what lurks in the cargo hold of the plane? Or for that matter, who knows what Ennis and Campbell have in store for readers in the latest installment of The Shadow?

THE SHADOW #2
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Rob Steen
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in The Shadow: Lamont Cranston’s alter ego is hell-bent on finding who is behind a conspiracy involving the fate of the world! Meanwhile, the American military has questions of its own regarding the whereabouts of a certain item that only The Shadow knows about.

INDIANA JONES MEETS THE SHADOW

This issue opens with Lamont and Margo headed to Hong Kong looking for the trinket that will keep the world safe. It’s all great espionage stuff that feels like it is right out of an Indiana Jones story – and the opening page nod to Indiana’s travels across the globe (itself a nod to classic serials), only helps sell the effect. Nazis showing up are the icing on the cake.

If you want a crash course on The Shadow, this issue is packed with bits of trivia that on the surface buzz past many, but references to Kent Allard, his travels in China during World War One, and some of the reasons why Cranston does what he does only serves to make the character as rich on the page as the purple prose from the 1930s.

While the last issue featured The Shadow shooting men down without a thought was shocking, Ennis turns the creepy meter up to eleven, as this issue features a battle in the air kicked off by a champagne glass stem to the eye, implications of sex with minors, and a slew of characters that one simply does not care to associate with. There are uncomfortable moments that make one squirm, and there are some that will say some of these moments are simply sensationalizing to sell more copies. I’m not going to argue, because there is probably some validity in that viewpoint, but I see it as Ennis taking the villain and making them the worst kinds of humans imaginable, so when they eventually get their comeuppance, the gory manner in which they are dispatched seems more justified.

There are some major plot advancements occurring in this issue, but many of the details are shrouded in mystery and shadow giving the reader just enough to keep them hooked to find out what the big MacGuffin is, and what it will do to those who don’t have the willpower to wield it.

VIOLENT ART IS VIOLENT

If seeing someone getting their brains blown out in the last issue was intense, then how does setting someone on fire, and then seeing the charred skin after the fire is put out make you feel? Ennis is no stranger to telling tales that require intense graphic images, and Aaron Campbell does his best to keep up with the scribe. As mentioned previously, the heavy ink house style of Dynamite works perfectly in this book, making every shadow seem more sinister, and The Shadow drawn in a way to make anyone jump when he says, “Boo!” (he doesn’t say that, by the way).

If I had once concern over the art it is the fact that often visual continuity from panel to panel and page to page doesn’t always jive, making it difficult at times for the reader to orient themselves in all the action. I’m not sure how big the plane Cranston and Lane is, but the big gun fight that breaks out, makes the plane seem as large as a 747.

BOTTOM LINE: SOLD!

This is a stellar issue. It’s an R-rated look at pulp heroes, and it doesn’t pull any punches. If you always wondered what would happen if Baldwin or Ford could have let loose with their characters, and the bottom dollar wasn’t the goal of the studio, this issue gives you a glimpse. I can’t get away from the Indiana Jones motif that flows through the issue, and that isn’t a negative in my book. I really got a kick out of reading this issue, and I’m giving The Shadow #2 4 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆