Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dynamite's the Shadow#1

In the midst of my ongoing series Bitter Fruit, which chronicles the 1960s Archie Comics' version of the Shadow, a new series launched: Dynamite Entertainment's the Shadow, written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Aaron Campbell. Dynamite is famous for their covers, never publishing 2 when it could be 4, never 4 when it could be 8. Occasionally one hears about the interiors of their comics as well.

This comic book is set during the early stages of World War II, before the USA intervened. The Shadow is already waging war against Japanese & German agents on US soil and soon his alter ego Lamont Cranston is being approached by the US government for assistance.

There is one moment early in the Shadow#1 which I rather liked: having cornered a small gang of armed men hied by the Japanese. Although the Shadow kills copious amounts of men, he does demonstrate a small mercy: one gunman drops his weapon and the Shadow chooses to spare his life, allowing him to go free.

Where I take issue with this comic is - of all things - the colouring by Carlos Lopez. After the opening action scene, the rest of the comic book is talking heads (a typical 21st century super hero comic, in other words). Above you see Lamont in a club, greeting two representatives of the US government. Note Lamont's black hair, grayish-black suit and striped tie. Note the younger of the two g-men has red hair and a green suit.

After three and a half pages of conversation, Lamont gets up and leaves. Or does he? Check the colouring on panel four here; it's supposed to be the green-suited government man, but the colourist has become confused as to where the characters are in relation to each other, so he colours the g-men to look like Cranston. The g-man returns to his proper colours in panel 5.

Just to further your confusion about which character is which, on the following page, Lamont is suddenly wearing a hat which conceals his hair; also, his tie has lost its stripes. Again, welcome to comic books of the 21st century! They really have about as many errors as comics books of any other time. It's a pity the editors couldn't ask the colourist to get the characters' wardrobes fixed before sending it to the printers, nor ask the artist to do something about hat-wearing Lamont which makes him recognizable as the striped-tie wearing man of the previous page.


Colin Smith said...

It's terribly sloppy, isn't it? I entirely agree.

A typical 21st century comic it is, in many ways.

Simply loading up a comic up with a sequence of splashes at the beginning and then following it with, as you say, talking heads, doesn't make it feel like a satisfied, well-paced read. And if memory serves, 6 splash pages in a comic is somewhat rubbing in that this is deconstruction-time. The structure of this felt loose, mono-paced and careless. It was as GE simply assumed that his readers were going to turn up and so didn't think to make the book compelling.

Some good moments - I agree about the display of mercy - some embarrassing ones - the double page spread was all spectacle and no insight, which is always a mistake with such terrible events - and overall a comic that seemed to presume that it had the audience before the comic had been opened.

A shame. There's a good Shadow comic in here, and a good Shadow comic would be worth the buying.

Michael Hoskin said...

I did have some hope because of Ennis' name; even though he's not most people's first pick for genre entertainment, I had some hope it would be as entertainingly pulpy as his Battler Britton mini; not so much. It's not terrible, nor should it be terribly pleased with itself.

I hope you checked out the Boys' Ranch review we bartered over. :-)