Garth Ennis does a good job of giving readers a great sense of who this character is. This reviewer wasn’t familiar with the Shadow, but having Ennis’ name on the front is a great reason to read the book. After reading the book though, anyone could describe who the Shadow is. At least enough to get people to read the book. As with anything else Ennis writes, the book is very dark. The issue opens with a description of what the Japanese occupation of a country was like. It’s brutal, and sets the tone well for what Ennis has planned. The World War II setting is used well. It’s hard these days to use World War II as a setting, as many comics are using it. Between superhero books, noir books, a book needs to set itself apart from the rest of those books. This reviewer is a history major, and his facts are right, which makes everything you read after that much more interesting. The Shadow and his supporting players are set up very well. The reader gets a good grasp of who they are, how they relate to the Shadow or his secret identity, and how they feel about the Shadow. They are all compelling and it makes the reader want to come back next month to see what is going to happen next.
One thing that doesn’t work is the complete lack of explanation of how the Shadow works. The character is very interesting, little to nothing is explained about how he has the wonderful gifts. The powers are good in their own right, but at least give a hint. Comic books are a medium all about hints and teases, so doing nothing about this is a bad move. Garth Ennis is a great writer though, so this had to be planned. The Shadow is a licensed property, with a long history, but Ennis seems to be doing his own take. After a quick Wikipedia search, a power set couldn’t be found.
Aaron Campbell’s art is very similar to Sean Phillips. The characters are detailed, and the second someone fires a gun, the BLAM looks like a fifth grader drew it. But the art is good. It fits the dark atmosphere that Ennis is clearly going for. The opening scene with the Japanese fits the script well. If this was a creator owned book, I’m sure Campbell could have pushed the boundaries of what the Japanese were doing. Which makes anyone who thinks about it start to cringe at the thought. And comparing anyones art to Sean Phillips is nothing but a compliment. The Shadow looks like a force of nature instead of a vigilante, which is a great idea. The book has a pulpy look to it, which is good for paying homage to the character’s origin. Campbell has a great future ahead of him.
The Shadow starts off right, but could have been a lot better. But it’s safe to say that anyone who reads the book will be around next month to see what happens next.
The Shadow #1 gets 3.5/5.