Today’s Special: THE SHADOW NOW #2

You need to make your decision based on the SECOND issue, because it will give you a better idea what the series will be like, issue-in, issue-out. Which is why I ask: You Want 2nds? TODAY’S SPECIAL: The Shadow Now #2

Hi folks, welcome to ARCHIE G’s. I’m your waiter, Raoul.

Here at ARCHIE G’s, we don’t think you can make a dependable Pull List decision based on the first serving of a comic. Publishers throw everything they’ve got at a first issue: promotions, gimmick covers, etc. And speculators? Sheesh, don’t get me started on speculators. Because of stuff like that,  sales figures are always bloated.

You need to make your decision based on the SECOND issue, because it will give you a better idea what the series will be like, issue-in, issue-out.

Which is why I ask: You Want 2nds?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: The Shadow Now #2


Let me give it to you straight: this is actually an old menu item spruced up to give it a more of that nouveau cuisine feel. I don’t know what it is about chefs. They just can’t be happy serving up classic dishes that have stood the test of time. They think they gotta put their own stamp on it.

And talk about a classic! The Shadow is one of the all-time great characters from American fiction. He first appeared as a mysterious presence on the radio show “Detective Story Hour” in 1930. He was HUGE! I mean like Lady Gaga/ George Clooney/ Avengers movie huge. Next thing you know, he’s heading up his own magazine, a series of books. This spooky crimefighter with the ability to “cloud men’s minds” was PERFECT for radio and print, where the listener/reader filled in all the visuals with their imaginations.So of course, the next logical step was to put him into comics.

Take it from me, LOGICAL ain’t the same thing as SMART.

It doesn’t work. How to you show ‘clouding men’s minds’ (aka Being Invisible) in comics? How do you portray him controlling the thoughts of others? The character’s greatest strengths in radio and in books and magazines, became his greatest liability in visual media.

You want proof? In comics–


You want more proof? In movies–


Yeah, that’s Jack Donaghy from “30 Rock”.

Maybe, MAYBE, the Shadow works in comics when you treat it like a period piece. Set it the 1930’s. Denny O’Neil and Mike Kaluta had some success with it.


Howard Chaykin.

Shadow 2

And Dynamite brought the Shadow back in some good issues (thanks Mr. Ennis).


 So what do they decide to do? Bring him into modern times, of course.

Genius. (Wow, sarcasm really doesn’t work very well in print, does it?)

A really good dish is all about presentation, so let’s talk about Shadow Now #2 and it’s presentation

Colton Worley’s approach is very photo-realistic. TOO photo-realistic. Except for Lamont Cranston (who is a dead ringer for Schmidt from “New Girl”), all the characters look the same…because in real life REAL people look the same. Comic book art needs to be heightened realism. Realism cranked up to 11. This comic looks like Worley posed all his buddies for a photo, and apparently a majority of his buddies are heavy-set guys with well-trimmed goatees and pork pie hats.



It’s the posing part that really takes away from some nice looking rendering. Every panel is static and boring with no energy. Worley has wonderful technique but this is supposed to be sequential art. There is no sequence. No connection from panel to panel.

The similarity of characters and lack of connection makes it almost impossible to follow the story. I’ve seen more flow of action in my Great Uncle Arnold’s photo albums. The only time anything moves is when the Shadow falls over in an alley.


Of course, calling this character “the Shadow” is misleading, because this is NOT the Shadow.

I’ll give David Liss the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Dynamite told him: “Okay, we’ve got this Shadow character. Nobody will make a movie out of comics set in the ‘30s. Too expensive! Lets put him in OUR time.”  I know what it’s like when the Powers-That-Be dictate a premise to you.

But why jettison the very things that made the character enduring to BEGIN with?

PAGE ONE: Caption of Shadow thinking: “That plan’s pretty much down the crapper”

Excuse me? “Down the crapper”? That’s not the Shadow, that’s Adam Sandler. But there’s a BIGGER problem:



David, buddy, do you have any concept of what this character is about? He is a creature of mystery. Not only a mystery to the other characters in story, but to us, the audience. He always has been. Is he really this gun-toting wrath emerging from the darkness? Is he Lamont Cranston? Is he Kent Allard? Radio listeners, magazine readers, book readers were all fascinated because they DIDN’T have insights into his thought processes. The Shadow has hung around for 75+ years not only because he could cloud criminals’ minds, but the audience’s minds as well.

This isn’t the Shadow. It’s Richard Castle in a red scarf.

It’s not a lost cause. The concept of the Shadow fighting crime in our era is a cool one. It’s that whole “fish out of water” thing.  “Mork and Mindy” wouldn’t have lasted two episodes if Mork had come to Earth from Ork and had acted like every other Earthling. Use Shadow’s old school outlook and perspective to comment on today.

PLEASE make this book work. I want to read THAT book. We need the Shadow to come to our reality and have an impact on IT. Not the other way around.

All “Shadow Now #2” succeeds in doing is making me very afraid for Dynamite’s upcoming Doc Savage series.

KETCHUPI give it one and a half KETCHUP PACKETS.

And don’t forget my tip. Ain’t nobody gettin’ rich here.

Clint McElroy
Clint McElroy

Clint McElroy is a/an (ADJECTIVE) writer with a God-given gift for (NOUN). His favorite activities include (ACTIVE VERB), (ACTIVE VERB), and twisting the heads off of (PLURAL NOUN). He is also rumored to possess an impressive (NOUN).

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Bill Angus
Bill Angus
10 years ago

Actually, Chaykin’s version was not a period piece, as was the follow-up ongoing series by Hefler & Sienkiewicz (and later Kyle Baker).

In fact, IIRC, that caused some concern from readers (seems to me that Harlan Ellison was somewhat vocal about it).

When the version was cancelled, DC went back to the period approach with “The Shadow Strikes” I believe.

Tom Berry
Tom Berry
10 years ago

I like the Shadow best as a period piece, but I’m open to Dynamite’s revamp. I think much of what the Shadow was about in the 1930s is just as relevant today. He, Batman and the Green Hornet are among my favorites because they are not mutants, from another planet or play with nuclear energy…in other words, at least relatively “realistic.” The “realism” of these three and a few others is very appealing.

10 years ago
Reply to  Bill Angus

Would you believe I meant Chaykin used a lot of PERIODS in his punctuation? Would you believe… nah, that’s all I got