Though we are already into 2015, that isn’t stopping Dynamite Entertainment from sharing with us The Shadow Special 2014: Death Factory tale by Phil Hester and Ivan Rodriguez.
Previously in The Shadow: Kent Allard was a famed aviator who fought for the French in World War I under the name, The Black Eagle. After the war, he travelled the world until he faked his death in South America so he could assume any identity and fight crime as The Shadow…
It’s been a while since I’ve peaked in on The Shadow to see what kind of crime is running rampant in New York City, and how the vigilante plans on bringing the scheme to an end. In this case, a new car factory has opened in the slums that makes automobiles the lower class can afford. The Richter Auto Plant is also paying higher than normal, and thugs across the city are stopping their cowardice acts and getting into the car business. Seems all well and good until people start disappearing. The Shadow has a couple operatives on the inside, and one of them Jericho Druke is in a bit of trouble because he’s black. And then there is the matter of those without jobs attacking those who work in the factory or who are driving around in a Richter auto. It seems like something evil is afoot, so it comes as no surprise that Nazis are behind it.
What makes this issue work is that Phil Hester takes the reader back to the time when Kent Allard was a World War I flying ace, and the reappearance of someone he once shot down. This guy is crazy and disturbed on so many levels, and if you are someone who is offended easily, be warned, Dear Reader, the way in which the villain disposes of those he finds undesirable is gruesome and may have you cringing that Hester and Dynamite Entertainment went that far.
On the lighter side, in Hester’s world, The Shadow is not only a crime fighter, but his character is also a pop culture phenomenon. The Maxwell Grant books are published, and people believe all the fantastic elements published in the pulps. All of this serves to make people fear The Shadow even more, and the car ride with Shrevvy is a nice nod and wink to the world of the pulps.
Overall, this story is well done, and I like that there are many elements that are not explained, hopefully giving Phil Hester a chance to expand on these story elements in the future.
Ivan Rodriguez’s art is really good in this issue. There are moments when one marvels at the way a glowing ring draws the reader in, and there are moments when I looked at a panel, and thought, “Oh no, they didn’t!”. When you don’t have someone flying around the skies or punching bad guys through walls, you need to find other ways to make the book visually interesting, and Rodriguez nails it. As mentioned previously, there are a few grizzly panels that may turn you off, and the imagery evoked by the method the villain wants to dispose of his victims conjures some really horrific thoughts.
BOTTOM LINE: A NICE BIG ISSUE, BUT BE WARNED
The Shadow Special 2014: Death Factory doesn’t try to be politically correct for the reading audience, but instead embraces the time period the story take place. This means there are going to be some very troubling situations that from a modern perspective, may be considered a no-no. I appreciate that Phil Hester didn’t water down the story, but for those who are sensitive on matters of race, language, and violence, you may want to skip this book. I liked the story a great deal, and the horrific nature of several key points strikes home how bad a villain can be and why it takes strong people to bring them down. I’m a bit put off by the $7.99 price tag, but 48 pages of content it offsets the pinch to the wallet.
The Shadow Special 2014: Death Factory arrives January 14, 2015.