By Justin McCarty
Shadow number four is out this week, and up until the last issue we were mostly confined to a hospital room, Mr. Crispy gave his backstory, Mary did make it out to the world to do some sleuthing. At the end of issue three, The Shadow escapes as a SWAT team storms his hospital room. Mary, of course, goes after him and finds him on the rooftops, wearing the slouch hat, cloak, and twin .45s. It was an exciting conclusion, leaving me dying to know what would happen!
From the rooftops, Mary and The Shadow witness an assault and naturally the Shadow intervenes. Except, it turns out it’s not the real Shadow. The wannabe Shadow doesn’t do so well in the fight, and Mary attempts to intervene, making a stand, and showing some real character development. The real Shadow finally reappears taking down the street thug in epic fashion. Each issue has at least one flashback that helps us to understand The Shadow’s world, in this issue The Shadow gives us another flashback about Worthy Delaney. In it, slum lords are discriminating against the black population and pushing them out onto the street in favor of whites, who are preferable tenants. The end of this issue doesn’t give us the same exciting cliffhanger the last had, but it takes a sharp turn and sets up the next issue.
I have to admit I wanted a little more action on this issue. Everything is well set up at this point. We have all our players; we see their arcs. The series so far has kept a pretty steady pace. With The Shadow jumping out of the window in the last issue, I thought we would get a break from the character development and social commentary to see The Shadow dole out some action-packed justice. Instead, we got the same pace and same discussion of how one set of social issues affects another set. The story is being told well, Spurrier and the gang know what they are doing, there are some action moments in the story, but nothing that puts you on the edge of your seat.
We get plenty of character-focused story in this issue, in fact, the series so far is very character focused. Mary, in this issue, finally must come to terms with being a victim. The Shadow gave Worthy longevity and in doing so changed his fate. It also shows The Shadow’s changing nature as time goes by. The Shadow learns people of color don’t need another white guy solving their problems for them. They have no reason to trust him. It has the effect of saying that The Shadow can become obsolete even while there is still plenty of injustice. But all of these character moments don’t make for a popping plot. We can’t examine the nature of The Shadow as a Meme without stalling the plot.
Volume three is doing some truly unique things with The Shadow brand, but the story is in danger of becoming stale by sticking to the formula. For me, I need the story to break out and breathe, set up the pattern then break it. They’ve done a great job of giving us milieu and characters that challenge The Shadow. With our characters firmly dealing with who they are and how they fit into this world, it’s time to get them into some real trouble. I want a little more action! We’ve gotten a little taste each issue of the action Si, Daniel and Lee can give us. I am ready to see them stretch their legs.
If nothing else they’ve got me all in on the book. When they finally let loose, I know it will be amazing.
The Shadow v3 #4