Review: The Shadow #0 (One-Shot)
Secrets of the Shadow’s past are revealed as he meets Houdini! The Shadow infiltrates sanctum of an esoteric society of murderous magicians who are hell-bent on escaping the ultimate trap–death itself! In order to thwart their plans, though, he must evade twisted traps and solve spellbinding puzzles. A good–or evil–magician never reveals his secrets… but the Shadow knows.
The Shadow gets a very special 0 issue this month from Dynamite comics and writer Cullen Bunn. The story features art from Colton Worley with Marc Rueda providing the colors and Rob Steen tackling lettering. 0 issues usually fall into the category of great or gimmick, so which does Bunn’s pulp adventure fall into?
The Shadow is a man of mystery and intrigue. He walks a fine line between the natural and the supernatural, part of which has to do with his penchant for escaping seemingly impossible traps. It turns out our hero gained some of his unbelievable skills while studying under the famous Harry Houdini. Learning to hone his new trade and prepare himself for his new life, a younger Lamont looked to Houdini to help him prepare his body for what would come next. Now years later, Houdini’s society of magicians have lost their way and turned to nefarious deeds. Looking to thwart their plans and preserve part of his friend’s legacy, The Shadow goes up against a group of people whose flair for the dramatic matches, if not surpasses, his own. What happens when The Shadow realizes a group of magicians are his most worthy adversaries to date? Can our hero bring down the cold hand of justice while his enemies are preforming sleight of hand tricks?
Bunn writes an utterly fantastic story. Bunn crafts an issue readers new and old can jump into and enjoy. There’s a lot going on under the surface of the story that hints at a long and complicated history for The Shadow and Houdini, but Bunn gives you enough context and explanation to keep it from feeling like this 0 issue is actually the latest in a long line of stories. Bunn just gets The Shadow and offers up something exciting with the magician framework. Worley’s art is just as great as the story. Worley’s style works surprisingly well with the time period and subject matter. There’s a Daredevil vibe to the style and pacing of the story, one of the highest compliments I can bestow on a comic. Worley draws an impressive Shadow who strikes what either is or will become and iconic pose with each page. Our hero wears his coat and beautifully flowing scarf like cloaks that helps to make him an imposing figure and one with the darkness. The action is crisp and clear, with some impressive use of magic tricks implemented as fighting techniques. Rueda’s colors makes good use of shadows and brings out some of the scratchier parts of Worley’s art which just adds to the old school pulp feel of both the story and art.
Bottom Line: There’s no trick here, Bunn and company compose a stellar Shadow story that hopefully leads into a new series from this creative team. This is a one-shot story that begins and ends within the pages, but the ideas and themes could easily be fleshed out for many issues to come. This one-shot easily serves as a job application for a new Shadow series, and I for one say this team deserves the gig. 5/5
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