Review: The Shadow: Year One #4

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After confronting the mysterious man who is apparently posing as Lamont Cranston, Margo Lane finds herself drawn into a world of violent intrigue as an agent of The Shadow! Carnage escalates in the mob war begun by Big Gun Massaretti but secretly orchestrated by the grotesque figure known only as Dr. Zorn! Meanwhile, The Shadow begins to recruit what will become his famous network of operatives. Eisner Award winning writer, Matt Wagner continues this pulp masterpiece that for the first time reveals the fledgling adventures of one of pop culture’s greatest iconic heroes! Joined by artist Wilfredo Torres and Wagner’s own son on color detail, this hit series excitingly explores what evil lurks in the hearts of men!

shadow coverWe get another installment of the earliest days of The Shadow’s war on crime as Dynamite’s newest Year One story continues today. The Shadow: Year One #4 is written by Matt Wagner with art by Wilfredo Torres. Brennan Wagner provides colors and Simon Bowland handles lettering. We had to wait an extra month, so does the fourth issue keep the streak of great issues going, or does The Shadow miss a step?

The story opens with “Big Gun” Massaretti leaving the meeting he had last issue with the villainous Dr. Zorn, who has been behind the plan to get Massaretti to start a citywide gang war. We get a little taste of Zorn’s powers and how he is the flipside of the coin that is The Shadow. The story is largely split into three narrative threads. We see The Shadow recruiting agents to his cause as he investigates what is really going on with Massaretti. One of the newly minted agents in The Shadow’s crusade is Margo Lane. She is settling into her new role as Lamont Cranston’s companion and what all goes along with that. She learns that she won’t be using her old skills that got her in trouble in the first place, but instead she’ll be putting on a good public face so she can get herself into situations where she can learn information The Shadow will need. The second thread is the continuing gang wars and how the police are trying to figure out what set Massaretti off in the first place. He had a good set-up, but everyone is trying to figure out what made him snap. The final thread looks at that pesky investigative journalist who has been sniffing out a story about Cranston since he disembarked from the ship in issue 1. He’s using more of his tricks as he tries to get the scoop on Cranston’s return. All these threads will more than likely connect, but can they all tie back together in time for The Shadow to stop Dr. Zorn from taking another victim?

Wagner writes an apt issue. This one isn’t as full of nods to The Shadow lore as previous issues, but Wagner uses the fourth installment to shift the pieces on the board around and get everyone in place for the second act. The Shadow is pretty well established now and his agents are falling into place. He’s starting to focus on the mission at hand and we’re starting to unravel a little of the mystery behind the villain. It’s a solid story, it’s just not as gripping as the previous installments. Torres’ art is top notch as always. He gets a few action scenes, but it’s the scenery and backgrounds that sell the story that’s set largely indoors. Torres makes The Shadow distinct and moody. There’s one scene where he almost turns The Shadow’s shadow into a character. The younger Wagner’s colors mix well with Torres’ art and really helps sell the story’s pre-WWII setting.

Bottom Line: The Shadow: Year One continues to be a series that’s respectful of what came before while still offering up something fresh. 3.5/5

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