Okay, I finished this one. Wish I could say it was a great reading experience, but I can’t.
Yeah, I am going to explain, so stop now if you have any medical problem that might be adversely affected by my bitching.
This comic collection is an attempt to update the classic 1930s pulp fiction character The Shadow, who amazed fans for decades with his daring vigilante ways and mysterious physic powers. And here the story picks up with our masked man returning to modern America after decades spent in self-imposed retirement in a monastery in the Far East. Naturally, this means that Shadow now finds himself a fossil of old American ideals in a modern, global world.
But while Shadow is definitely not a hipster anymore, crime is still crime, and the sheeple public of America still need a protector, so when innocent citizens begin dying in droves from seemingly random acts of terrorism around the metropolitan area, our “Mad Men” type billionaire dons his red scarf, puts on his dark hat, loads his pistols, and begins tracking down the vile villains. An investigation that isn’t as straight forward as it would have been in the “good old days.”
So why didn’t I like this re-boot of The Shadow, you ask?
Let me list the reasons.
1) The art was not for me. Colton Worley went for the knockout punch with a neo-pulp, dark, and moody feel that just did not excite. Sure, it was different. Definitely, it set a somber mood. But it also was very hard on the eyes, making it difficult to follow the characters and action across the pages, and actually overshadowed the story it was suppose to be “helping” to convey. By the end, I found myself wondering how blood splatter or rain or gunshots was going to be incorporated into the next page rather than what was going on with the story itself.
2) The story by David Liss sizzles then fizzles. (Damn, that reminds me of many a date I had when younger.) Anyway, the book starts off well enough, as it firmly takes ownership of the pulpy roots and history of The Shadow, then gives a reasonable explanation of how this old school dude could still be a masked vigilante, and begins a standard but well thought out story of him having to head back out to save this modern city that he barely recognizes. Where everything goes horribly wrong, however, is when the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks is revealed. This revelation is so easily guessed, so utterly lacking in adequate explanation that it derails the momentum and leads the rest of the tale down a traditional good guy versus bad guy, big fight at the end trajectory that is not deviated from in the least. A big disappoint.
3) The Shadow himself. Amazingly, this dislike of the old-school, scarfed man has nothing to do with his pulp roots or generic backstory. Rather, I grew tired of every interaction between him and other people being about how “behind the times” and “unhip” he was. I mean, in Captain America (old school comics, modern re-boots, and the movies) this issue of a man-out-of-his-own-time has been dealt with, and sure, an old fashioned man will occasionally take an action that seems odd to his modern contemporaries, but those miscues will get fewer and fewer as he assimilates into society. But here everything about The Shadow is always how “traditional” and “old fashioned” he is. It got old really quick.
4) The female characters were pretty forgettable. In this corner, we have a young bad girl who is overpowered with a huge ego to boot. In the other, we have a hip, modern woman whose world revolves around trying to prove that she is equal to any man, even if he is a masked vigilante with psychic powers and decades of crime fighting experience. Needless to say, I did not find either female lead very interesting, at all.
To sum up, I had high hopes going into this read of The Shadow Now, but it let me down. It is, however, worth you giving a try to see if it is more to your liking.
Netgalley provided this book to me for free in return for an honest review. The review above was not paid for or influenced in any way by any person, entity or organization, but is my own personal opinions.