Review: Altered States: The Shadow #1

This one, this one is interesting, perhaps more so than the other Altered States books I’ve read.  I’ve always thought of The Shadow as the Batman of pulp comics (perhaps Batman is The Shadow of modern comics?) but in a Justice League of pulp comics I would use The Shadow to fill the Batman role.  The Avengers didn’t really have a “Batman” thinking about it… Anyway this sees The Shadow less as Batman and more as Dr. Strange which I found pretty fascinating. We come upon The Shadow meditating where his astral projection is pulled into a weird psychedelic mind space where he has to fight some strange mind aliens.  It’s revealed that this is all the work of a super computer from the future that forgot how to fight and now that it’s faced with an alien invasion it needs to pull a ‘weapon of justice’ from somewhere to control the defending fleet.

Altered State - The ShadowIt leaves The Shadow with an option to return to his body and die long before the genocide of the human race or have his consciousness transported to the future to defend humanity.  It takes him like a panel to decide to go into the future.  I don’t know why they couldn’t just do both.  Why can’t he defend Earth in the future and just be returned to his body when it’s all done?  Clearly space and time are meaningless no matter what plot device you try to work in to add gravitas to the situation, what’s been demonstrated is that the computer can alter space and time (and magic?) so why is there even a dilemma?

This takes yet another route in the way to tell an Altered States story, I didn’t realize there were so many options even though they all make sense.  I guess I would have tried a bunch of different ways to tell short stories as well if that was the limitation I had to work with.  This time they fill the issue with exposition and leave the actual conflict to your imagination.  Not bad, if you have a properly told beginning with a properly established world that can work.  It leaves it open to the reader and to the potential for a follow up.  If I were to revisit either Vampirella or Red Sonja in their respective Altered States as mini-series instead of one-shots I’d just ignore the one-shot entirely and retell the story but longer.  This you could just simply add a sequel to and it wouldn’t affect this story at all.  Pretty clever, all in all, but unfortunately the story and the world building aren’t that great.

Unlike all the other Altered States that I’ve read this is the only one I DON’T want to revisit even though it sets itself up to be revisited.  I think if you went back and retold Vampirella, Red Sonja or Doc Savage you could create some really killer mini-series out of that.  This?  I don’t really care to see The Shadow in space with the same essential plot as Ender’s Game.  That’s what this was setting up, Ender’s Game with The Shadow.  I can’t really think of anything interesting to do with that.  So, I applaud the better use of your one-shot storytelling but I can’t really recommend the story sadly.  However I’ll keep trying hoping that one of these Altered States will knock me out of my seat.

Score: 2/5

Altered States: The Shadow #1 Writer: David Avallone Artist: Ivan Rodriguez Colorist: Dinei Ribeiro Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/25/15 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital