The first issue of a new comic series is a very strange thing these days. In the past, one comic book would tell a story from beginning to end. We’d see the conflict and marvel at the resolution and all within twenty two pages. As decades pass, this art form has evolved and become- like it’s readership -more mature and complex. Stories have layers beyond the righteous triumphing simply over evil. Characters are deeper and plots tend to unfold at their own pace. This is a natural stepping stone that introduced us to the now industry standard graphic novel where (hopefully, but not always) a complete story is collected. And this is where we’re stuck with the first issue of the Shadow.
I can tell you that Garth Ennis is a consistently good writer or that this book has promise, but unfortunately there isn’t much in this first issue to judge in terms of its future. If you know anything about the Shadow, you already know he’s the pulp precursor to Batman. You know his alter ego; playboy Lamont Cranston has the power to cloud men’s minds and “know what evil lurks in the hearts of men”. Beyond that and his trademark fedora and chrome pistols, Ennis hasn’t given us much to discuss. Each issue boasts a bevy of beautiful alternate covers by some of the industry’s best; Jae Lee, Alex Ross and John Cassaday and the interior art by Aaron Campbell suits the book pretty well. So far they has it all the right pieces in play, they have the right tone and have set the right mood, but with a likely five more issues to go for this first story arc, it’s still anyone’s guess whether it’ll be genius or bitter fruit bore by the crime of poorly delivered pulp. Only Ennis knows!