The second volume of the Shadow sees our intrepid hero full of doubt as his power to read the minds of men has been somewhat on the fritz. For whatever reason, he has been running into people he cannot read and because of that, a couple of innocents were murdered that he was unable to prevent. So travelling to Nepal to see if his former masters will be able to help him, he finds them murdered by the Red Raja, a man who also happens to have the same powers as he does. After the Red Raja suffers his eventual defeat, Cranston does not wish to head home right away and stops off in Spain where he becomes embroiled in the civil war taking place. Of course, things are not to go smoothly for him as he meets El Rey, the would be king of Spain, as well as the Black Sparrow, a woman who knows what she wants and one who is more than she seems. The final issue of this volume sees the Shadow return to New York where a string of robberies and murders have the police confounded and it is up to him to solve them.
After Garth Ennis did such a great job on the first volume of this book, it remained to be seen who would follow him and if they could do as much justice to the character as he did. Victor Gischler would be that man, and he did indeed do quite a good job. The book was exciting and dramatic and he introduced some new foes to The Shadow’s rogues gallery along the way. The action quotient was upped and we were introduced to a new supporting character in the form of his personal pilot who is a nice addition to the cast.
Gischler has a good grasp on the character, both as the Shadow and as Lamont Cranston. The Shadow is usually an indefatigable character, always going forward and always persistent in his battle against crime, so it was with pleasure to see some self-doubt introduced to humanise him a little and show that even he is fallible. As Cranston, he was his usual sly and wry self, batting words with friend and foe alike.
This volume did have three different artists take the reins, and it worked out perfectly as each one handled a different story instead of encroaching upon a tale already in progress and causing the inevitable unevenness that would follow. Jack Herbert handled the first one with the Red Raja, while Aaron Campbell handled the four-parter in Spain and Giovanni Timpano took care of the New York adventure. Each artist was a great fit for the story they illustrated and yet were all completely distinct from one another. Consistency is usually key, and this book had it.
During the story set in Spain, it was great to see Gischler and Dynamite introduce the Black Sparrow as you can never have enough strong female heroes or villains in this case. She is quite unique as well, being from Spanish descent. There are very few Spanish heroes in the mainstream comic universes, especially those who are female with at least Renee Montoya and her stint as the Question coming to mind and that of Marvel’s current White Tiger. It is a good thing and hopefully more publishers will follow, introducing more exciting characters that are just as diverse as this world we call humanity.
Aside from a few others, the Shadow is one of the marquee pulp figures of all time. His ability to see what evil lurks in the hearts of men is utterly unique in the comic world and one that truly sets him apart from other anti-heroes of his ilk. He is by far, one of the most dynamic characters ever created and the basis for many of those heroes that would come after him and it is with joy to see Dynamite taking such good care of the property.
4 out of 5