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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #33

Seems like it’s The Busiest Day Ever here at CSBG. So when you’re done paging through our most popular post ever down below from Joe, or maybe the other half-dozen cool entries that’ve popped up today, feel free to give a quick browse to this one. You might get a cheap laugh out of it. I’ll be sad if we don’t get at least 350 comments, though. Bring the love!

Anyway, today, as you know, is Groundhog Day. I searched and searched for a cool groundhog-related character, but the best I could find was Guerrilla Groundhog, and I don’t think that’s going to cut it, cool as it sounds.

No, I had to go a bit abstract for today. Looks like six more weeks of winter…

2/2/07

33. The Shadow

Shadow 1.jpg

…’cause I saw a Shadow! (This joke would be funnier if this year wasn’t one of the very few where bloody Phil didn’t see a shadow. Bah!)

WHO KNOWS what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The SHADOW knows! Lamont Cranston (though that’s but an assumed identity), the dark avenger of the night, with the ability to become invisible in darkness and cloud men’s minds!

You may say I’m cheating a bit. After all, the Shadow first appeared in the pulps, precursors to comics, and became famous because of the radio show. The Shadow, however, has starred in numerous comic series, some quite good, some quite bizarre. He’s had a comic strip, a pulp magazine, a series of novels, and a dreadful movie starring Alec Baldwin. Comics have given him his strongest home in years.

Shadow 6.jpg

“Shadow Comics” was published by a company called Street & Smith in the 1940′s, and lasted 101 issues, overall, which is the Shadow’s longest run in comics. He later moved to Archie, but they quickly turned him into a superhero character, and that series bombed. It just ain’t the Shadow without the bitchin’ hat and scarf, or twin pistols.

Shadow 5.jpg

Then he moved to DC, where the majority of his comics appearances have been since; I do know there was series that reprinted the daily strip, I believe, but I’ve forgotten who published it, and don’t have my issues handy. It was awesome, though. I think I have one where he fights a shark, and stuff. Coolness.

With the Shadow, you’ve got his neat supporting cast. My favorite’s Moe, the cab driver who ferries him about from place to place. You can’t forget Harry Vincent, though, or love interest Margo Lane. And his archnemesis? None other than Shiwan Khan!

Shadow 18.jpg

Yeah, that’s the Shadow’s head on a robot body, drawn by our friend from yesterday, Kyle Baker. Sweet.

The Shadow’s drifted out of the public consciousness, but never forget; if it wasn’t for the Shadow, we might not have Batman, or Green Hornet, or any similar superheroes. Yeah, Crimson Avenger got there first, but it’s the Shadow who will be remembered most by history, and who had the most influence on the crimefighter genre.

Yeah, so the Alec Baldwin movie didn’t go over so well. Sam Raimi, however, has finally gotten the rights to produce a new Shadow movie! He tried to get them years back and couldn’t, which is why we got Darkman. Unfortunately, Bruce Campbell’s a little too old to play the Shadow (probably), so who do you think can fill the scarf? I think Adrien Brody’s got the nose for it, myself…

17 Comments

I don’t care what you say.

Bruce Campbell can pull off the Shadow.

What happened to black history month? I was looking foward to Robbie Robertson.

I second Bruce Campbell!

Age doesn’t matter when Bruce Campbell is involved.

Bruce Campbell is the only man who could pull of Judge Dredd. It’s all about the chin baby.

Interestin’ and well researched. That was a good piece.

I like the fact that Robo-Shadow cover says ‘For mature readers’ when it looks like the least mature Shadow story ever.

A few years back I was working the evening shift at a job that was in the sticks. On the way home at midnight an AM station would replay old radio shows. There was something odd about being half asleep and driving through unlit roads while a booming voice tells you ‘the weed of crime bears bitter fruit!’

I’d get an unknown. Same as they did with Christopher Reeve for Superman. Find a guy who looks the part who can act.

My all-time favorite Shadow comic was the Gerard Jones/Eduardo Barreto one, though I quite liked Chaykin’s and Baker’s. And of course the O’Neil/Kaluta one’s a classic; Frank Robbins and ER Cruz did some really stunning artwork on the 70′s run too, though they never get any fan love for it.

I don’t hate the Baldwin movie as much as some do. I liked the attempted rationalizations of Cranston becoming the Shadow, and why he’d hang out with Margo Lane, and the visualization of Burbank and the other agents and the lair– the secret pneumatic-tube system cracked me up. The failure was getting Baldwin — he did a good job, but you know, he’s a star, so you have to see his face. So too much of the movie is Cranston or the Shadow without his hat and cape. Phooey on that. I’m about ready to suggest they start putting it into the contract that if you agree to be in a superhero movie you have to wear the goddam mask when the script calls for you to be in your superhero outfit. Call it the Tobey Maguire clause.

Incidentally, I feel your pain in terms of traffic. I spent most of the week working on that ZAPP piece and making sure I got everyone’s name right. “No Comments Yet” is just sitting there taunting me when I swing by here. I did get a nice note from Jennifer at SPL; she apparently sent a link to her bosses to encourage more of that kind of program at the library. That was cheering.

They don’t just do it for the star factor–they do it because masks don’t emote. Note that in ‘V for Vendetta’, where the part really did require V to wear the mask the entire time, one of the few complaints movie critics gave was that there was “very little chemistry” in the scenes between V and Evey, and that he seemed “distant and remote”.

It’s because he was wearing a mask with only one facial expression.

Awwgh! What was the Archie Series thinking? The Shadow looks horrible as a superhero. There isn’t anything of him left in that green get up.

I will have to look up Robbie Robertson…

“I will have to look up Robbie Robertson”

He’s a Spiderman character. JJJ deputy at the Daily Bugle.

The best part of the Archie series was that they made Shiwan Khan look like a Marlon Brando biker/Village People leather man.

Don’t forget the Mike Kaluta/Gary Gianni Dark Horse stuff. Beautiful, beautiful work!

I rather liked the Baldwin film. Nice twisty plot, some good humor, awesome Goldsmith score.

I actually haven’t read very much of the Shadow in comics. The most exposure I’ve had of him is probably from the radio series- I have a bunch of cassettes somewhere and I listened to ‘em on a car trip. Great character.

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?#

The Shadow Nose!

If you let go of your preconceptions and don’t expect it to be a definitive Shadow movie, the Alec Baldwin film is kind of fun.

Bruce Campbell would be too cutesy. I say Raimi should invent a time machine and get Basil Rathbone to play the part.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 12:35 pm

And let’s not forget about the Shadow’s main contribution to the american comics: Shadow was one of the main inspiration for Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s Batman.

The Shadow series from the DC Bronze Age was too short lived. One of the gems from that era.

There was a classic Shadow hardcover graphic novel published by Marvel 15 or 20 years ago (?) that was pretty nice also. It was drawn (and written?) by Mike Kaluta and inked by Russ Heath!

Will this ever be updated? 2007 was two years ago. I am anxious to see another Shadow movie. As to who can play it, certainly not A. Baldwin; he’s gotten too heavy. I’m really not up on the actor scene ’cause there’s been too much emphasis on who’s doing who, who isn’t doing who, who’s a lez, who’s a fag. Yeah, Broday’s got the nose for it!

PLEASE update!

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