web stats

CSBG Archive

Friday the Second Time Around

Despite what some people think, I really don’t read EVERYTHING.

At least, not when it comes out. But the beauty of the current comics landscape is that publishers have embraced the concept of the backlist… of putting older stories back in print, as well as keeping trade paperback collections on the shelves. So even if I don’t grab something right when it comes out, chances are that between my local retailer or an online dealer like Amazon, somewhere it’s there for me.

This is especially true lately, because I’m finding that even if there aren’t a lot of new DC comics that are doing much for me, I’m having great fun catching up with stuff I snooted the first time around.

Case in point: Showcase Presents The Spectre.

I’ve always liked the Spectre, but the one I think of as ‘mine’ is the Fleisher-Aparo version. I never was interested in the Silver Age “Discarnate Detective” that briefly had his own book in the late 1960s. My idea of the Spectre is that he should be scary, not just some sort of ghost supercop.

However, what I am finding when reading those old stories in the new Showcase Presents volume is that they’re just gorgeous to look at. The stories are a little too Julius Schwartz science-fictiony to be a good fit for the Spectre, but getting to see the Murphy Anderson art in all its detail more than makes up for it. It’s gorgeous, and a real treat to see in black and white where you can really appreciate the careful effort he put into every line.

And the Neal Adams stuff looks terrific in black and white, too.

Hell, even the Jerry Grandinetti pages were a pleasant surprise.

And of course, my beloved Jim Aparo version of the Spectre is there as well. I own this run of stories already, but I still really like having them here in black and white also.

The stories range from mildly entertaining to really cool, but the art is strong all the way through. Over a decade’s worth of Spectre stories in one volume, one-stop shopping. It’s a fun read and I’m glad I gave in to the impulse to check it out.

Another series I never bothered with the first time around was All-Star Squadron, but I was very pleased to see it get a Showcase Presents volume as well.

Oddly, this one hasn’t really aged as well as the Silver Age Spectre. But I still enjoyed it… mostly because writer Roy Thomas was so obviously enjoying it.

He’s utterly, joyously nerding out here, and it shows. Getting to create his very own Golden Age JSA adventures was clearly some sort of bucket-list item for him and that enthusiasm is contagious. What’s more, in addition to Roy Thomas having the time of his life, you get Adrian Gonzales and Jerry Ordway, and Ordway’s inks are, again, a really great thing to see in black-and-white.

I talk a lot about the Bronze Age comics of the 1970s, but my personal Golden Age, really, is the DC of the 1980s. That was when all my favorite creators from the 1970s Marvel books were suddenly working on my childhood favorite DC characters from the sixties. Perfect storm. (Admittedly, I was sorry to see Denny O’Neil leave Batman, though I’d have cheered up quite a bit if I’d known he’d be back in much better form before the end of the decade.)

I was a fan of the Thomas/Ordway Infinity Inc. back in the day, but somehow never got involved with the ‘parent’ book, All-Star Squadron. So it was great fun to get caught up with it here in this convenient volume; the comics were mostly just okay (though, again, very cool just to LOOK at) but just reading it got me feeling all pleasantly nostalgic for the 1980s DC books.

Speaking of the Justice Society, sometimes creators take a second swing at things, too. Just for the hell of it, I picked up the Earth 2 collection from James Robinson and Nicola Scott.

Although, really, if you count The Golden Age, this is the third time James Robinson’s re-envisioned the Justice Society.

So how’s the New 52 version? Well… Earth 2 wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t as much fun as his first two swings at the JSA, either.

The idea is that on this parallel Earth, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all died fighting the “Apokolips War” a few years before, in a variation of what I guess the New 52′s Justice League origin story was. And now, because destiny is calling and the world needs heroes, a new group of ‘wonders’ is springing up to fight Big Scary Evil.

Specifically, in the first collection, we’re introduced to a re-imagined Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkgirl, and Atom, fighting a re-imagined Solomon Grundy.

I wish I could tell you more, but really, that’s it. That’s the whole book. Introductions, fight. The end. Any character stuff is done mostly on the fly.

Now, like I said, it’s not bad. But… it’s not much.

The flaw is partly in the premise– I understand the reasoning behind wanting to do a version of the JSA that’s a fresh start, but, see, we have that. It’s the Justice LEAGUE. The chief attraction of the Justice Society in a modern context is the sense of legacy and history that goes with the team, the tradition that reaches back to World War II. The fun of the book in its previous incarnations largely came from the clash of the old with the new, the grizzled veterans learning to work side-by-side with the fresh-faced kids. That was an interesting mix and led to all kinds of different story possibilities.

If you’re going to scrap that idea, what you’re left with is…

…Well, you’re left with Earth 2, actually, which is a generic, reasonably well-executed superhero team comic that’s not doing anything a dozen other super-team comics aren’t doing. Like a lot of the New 52 books, I think that DC was so eager for something NEW!! for the Justice Society that they forgot what was good about the old version this replaced. The ‘parallel earth’ idea is mostly tossed away, just variation for the sake of variation. Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman are gone– disposed of almost arbitrarily in the first issue, and Huntress and Power Girl are gone too (apparently off to the new World’s Finest, which actually sounds kind of cool, but I haven’t read it.)

In the meantime, the JSA characters that are left are certainly new, but not terribly memorable or unique. It’s not really the JSA as much as it is an Imaginary Story/Elseworlds version of the Justice League that’s not very interesting. Pretty much every idea in Earth 2 has been done before and done better in other DC team superhero books– James Robinson even wrote a few of them himself.

Final verdict? This was an okay book but it’s not something that’ll keep me coming back, especially with a story this decompressed. Six issues just to whip Solomon Grundy? Pffft. I don’t care if he’s the new Grey Elemental or what, spending six issues on a gather-the-team-to-fight-a-menace story where the menace is Solomon Grundy… that is just way too padded. Especially when the arc ends with us knowing hardly anything about the members of the group. Green Lantern is gay, the Flash is a screwup kid, the Atom’s a military jerk… those are panel-caption descriptions. Robinson could have given us more than that. In virtually every case here, the established character from the old JSA is more interesting than the new version. It really hurts with the more fatherly characters from the previous iterations of the Justice Society– in particular, the older, married Jay Garrick was ten times more interesting than this new twentysomething version, and that character was an interesting perspective to have in a superhero team book, it was someone for the younger folks to play off of.

DC keeps making this mistake… Connor Hawke and Kyle Rayner were only interesting to read about when they ran into older superheroes in the DCU and felt like they had something to prove, and Mark Waid’s stories about Wally West wisely kept the idea of legacy front and center. DC, your legacy and history is a feature, not a bug. When everyone’s the same age in your superhero universe, it’s dull.

I have talked mostly about the writing, because I’m a story guy, but the visual component of Earth 2 didn’t do a lot for me either. Nicola Scott’s art is… well, it’s okay. I’m not fond of the over-rendering that appears to be DC’s New 52 house style. It’s not my thing; to me it sucks all the kinetic energy out of a page, the fight scenes that should be bursting with Kirbyesque action look to me like metal engravings when they’re rendered with this kind of fussy detailing. (See the Aparo Spectre examples above if you are curious about how to do highly-detailed, beautifully rendered inks without sacrificing kinetic energy.) I know Nicola Scott is better than this– I’ve got the Batgirl back issues to prove it. And I know it makes me an old fart, but, damn it, I just don’t like the new costumes, either. With the exception of the new Al Pratt Atom– and really, THAT guy’s costume had nowhere to go but up– the new outfits just look generic. (A word I keep coming back to with this book.) Alan Scott’s original outfit was kind of silly, but it was a more interesting look than a unitard with cuffs.

If you’re going to re-do an origin, your mission statement should be to make it more interesting than the one it’s replacing, not less.

An example of doing this right is The Shadow: Year One that Matt Wagner and Wilfredo Torres are doing over at Dynamite Comics. (Because it’s Dynamite, there are at least four cover variants for each issue and so far the guest artists they’re getting are all really great for this series… folks like Howard Chaykin, Alex Ross, and Francisco Francavilla.)

This is the third take on the Shadow’s origin done for comics– the previous two that I know of both came from DC, first in Howard Chaykin’s 1986 mini-series….

And then again, in The Shadow Strikes! by Gerard Jones and Rod Whigham.

Ironically, their “Year One” two-parter saw print in the last two issues of the series. I liked both this one and the Chaykin version, though each served to de-mystify the Shadow more than I think is really proper.

(And the Alec Baldwin movie got a nice comics adaptation from Dark Horse, too, though I don’t really count it. Call that one the Shadow’s comics origin 2.5.)

Sigh. If only the movie itself had looked this cool.

But anyway, Wagner and Torres’ new take on the first days of the Shadow’s crimefighting crusade in 1930s New York is far and away my favorite of them all. It manages to give you that insider feeling of fun that is the best part of reading a new origin story of an established character, while also preserving the essential mystique of the Shadow.

How? By presenting the story from the viewpoint of ‘socialite’ (translation: somewhat soiled dove/gangster’s girlfriend and regretting it) Margo Lane, and her meeting a man she thinks is Lamont Cranston (but really isn’t Cranston at all) that will change her life.

That is just a great hook to hang the story on, and the Shadow’s determination to remain mysterious even to Margo preserves that aspect of the character in a way none of the previous versions of the Shadow’s beginnings was able to accomplish.

Plus, the story itself is just great pulpy fun and hits all the marks traditionalists such as myself like to see hit, but in ways that feel new.

In fact, now that I think about it, Matt Wagner is doing here what he did for Batman’s early days in his two miniseries for DC, Monster Men and The Mad Monk. It’s that same vibe of old-but-new. If you liked those, you’ll probably like The Shadow Year One. The second issue just came out this week, and the first issue is probably still around if you ask your retailer. Or you can find them on Comixology, if that’s how you roll.

As for me, I got so revved up about the Shadow just writing this, I think I may have to revisit some old Shadow books of mine on the shelf here.

Because we now have a comics landscape where I can DO that, just pull it off the bookshelf. Whether I missed it the first time around or just haven’t looked at it in a while.

For those of you who are too young to remember the haphazard way we used to have to get comics in the old newsstand days, trust me, it’s pretty damn awesome.

See you next week.

30 Comments

I pre-ordered the first issue of Shadow: Year One on a whim and I really enjoyed it. Glad to see it’s still good.

2 questions, Greg: 1. Did you ever read the ’70s Shadow book written by Michael Uslan? 2. Which Shadow prose story should a total beginner to those start with?

I was really giving Earth Two a shot until Robinson got into the Fate arc and just blasted the page with text, and worse yet, saying the exact same thing six or seven times. What should have been two pages of exposition was the entire book and I still don’t care one whit for these new incarnations. I think it ‘tops’ Cry For Justice’ as the worst of Robinson’s work. I’ll only go back to it if it means we’ll get something like the recent Shade maxi-series again. That was not only enjoyable, it was a story I really felt had to be told and it reminded me of why I was paying attention in the first place. I finished that and reread the entire Starman run AGAIN in an evening.

Not entirely Robinson’s fault, this New 52 thing has run its course. The novelty is gone and hasn’t been replaced with any new avenues for any of these characters. As you say, Greg, legacy is a feature, not a bug. The DCU is not an iPhone.

1. Did you ever read the ’70s Shadow book written by Michael Uslan?

You mean the DC book after O’Neil and Kaluta left? Yeah, I did, and I liked those a lot. I keep hoping Dynamite will put the entire DC run back in print, because the post-Kaluta Shadow with Frank Robbins and then E.R. Cruz on the art was good stuff too.

2. Which Shadow prose story should a total beginner to those start with?

Oh, any of the reprint doubles from Anthony Tollin are fine. You don’t really need to read them in order. The 1970s paperbacks do have the added enticement of Steranko covers, if you can find any. But really, one of the best introductory volumes to the Shadow pulps is here, this double volume pulp-facsimile from Dover Books, because it has a great introductory essay from the Shadow’s primary pulp writer and creator, Walter Gibson, and also one from his editor John L. Nanovic. Those two essays are the BEST introduction to the Shadow.

I might have prefaced that by pointing out I’m a guy that, when my parents gave me a choice, once I was done with G.I.Joe and Transformers, I watched Bogart movies and then listened to Elvis. I don’t mind new when it’s done well, but I never see the point of losing the old just because it’s old.

Man, I agree with every word you wrote here, Greg. The SPECTRE stuff is just GORGEOUS in black & white, and the ALL-STAR SQUADRON is a good-looking volume, too (and a major nostalgia trip for me as a child of the 80s).

I haven’t gotten #2 of THE SHADOW; YEAR ONE yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed Wagner’s story for THE GREEN HORNET: YEAR ONE. And MAN, how cool would it be if Dynamite published a nice collection of THE SHADOW STRIKES? Gerald Jones did some really great stories in that, and it’s Eduardo Barretto’s best work.

I’m similarly “ehh” on the new Earth-2 series for pretty much the same reasons you cite. I like characters like the JSA BECAUSE of their histories, not in spite of them, and each reboot/cosmic reshuffling of the deck chairs just reduces my interest more. Ah, well. There’s always back issues, right? :)

Excellent point that the JSA’s raison d’être is to serve as DC’s elder statesmen and connection to its WW II-era origins. Without those things, the JSA is just the JLA Lite or Teen Titan Adults.

Earth 2? Its not. Its Counter-Earth. The new take, the costumes. Its a lot more like the Squadron Supreme than the JSA. I loved Earth 2 but for the very same reasons cited above. I read All Star Comics in the 70s, loved the All Star Squadron, plus all the JLA/JSA team-ups. And it was because of that superhero steam punk aspect that went so well. The current batch are no relation to the originals. Same as Captain Atom. Same name but nothing to pull in fans of previous incarnations.

What next? Killing off Peter Parker?

My oh my! The Spectre and The Shadow.

I take my Spectre anyway I can get him, but the Fleisher/Aparo issues from the 70′s are the best, as you said. DC reprinted them in the 80′s miniseries Wrath of The Spectre, in which they included a few Spectre stories by this team that were not printed in the 70′s. That series is out in a nice trade (also titled Wrath of The Spectre). Though I really love the Ostrander/Mandrake Spectre books from the 90′s as well. That was also a Spectre that was scary. I mean, who in the hell destroys an entire nation? Good grief!!

And The Shadow! I love what Dynamite is doing with him. I like The Spider as much as The Shadow and DE is doing a good job with him as well. I encourage anyone who might be interested to check the prose versions of these two characters. They do not disappoint.

Greg, I really loved this post. Very nostalgic for me.

All-Star Squadron is really a weird comic. It is all about filling in the blanks and retconing all these comics from the 1940s. It has all these editor’s notes to 1940s comics but back when All-Star Squadron came out it wasn’t like many comic book fans had read those or DC was publishing trade paperbacks of golden age stuff. So the only reason to go to all this obsessive detail was because Roy Thomas wanted to. I wonder if anyone at DC ever said, “Roy, no one has read this old stuff. Just make up whatever you want!”

All-Star Squadron is really a weird comic. It is all about filling in the blanks and retconning all these comics from the 1940s. It has all these editor’s notes to 1940s comics but back when All-Star Squadron came out it wasn’t like many comic book fans had read those or DC was publishing trade paperbacks of golden age stuff. So the only reason to go to all this obsessive detail was because Roy Thomas wanted to.

I know, right!? But he loves it SO MUCH. You left out the part where, impossibly, Thomas ALSO tries to square everything up with ACTUAL World War II history. It’s really kind of insane. But it makes him so happy, and that sense of fun somehow carries over into the story. It’s not comic-book-superhero fun so much as it is, oh, I don’t know, Jeopardy home-game fun. But there’s a certain nerdy, Poindexter charm to the whole thing, and damn, it LOOKS great.

I wonder if anyone at DC ever said, “Roy, no one has read this old stuff. Just make up whatever you want!”

Actually, my friend Kurt has been going over a lot of this stuff in the TwoMorrows ALL-STAR COMPANION series and Mr. Thomas often did do that. It just never feels like it.

I was reading ALL-STAR SQUADRON at around 10 (my subscription started with #7 since SUPER FRIENDS was canceled), and it quickly became one of my favorite comics. It was a nice gateway drug into both comic book history with some real-world history sprinkled in. The first issue I read revolved around Winston Churchill’s visit to the USA in December 1941. With DC publishing ALL-STAR, CRISIS and WHO’S WHO all within a few years of each other, growing up in the 80s gave me a very good appreciation for comics history and, I suppose, helped create the continuity freaks of tomorrow. :)

John’s comment: With DC publishing ALL-STAR, CRISIS and WHO’S WHO all within a few years of each other, growing up in the 80s gave me a very good appreciation for comics history and, I suppose, helped create the continuity freaks of tomorrow.

For me the thing that made me want to know more about DC’s past were their 80 page giants and later the 100 page spectaculars. For Marvel it was Marvel Tales, Marvel’s Greatest Comics and Marvel Colecters Items Classics. When I got into the Marvel and DC books it was nice to have those reprint books to bring me up to speed on some characters and let me catch up on stories I missed. I like that we have the Essentials, Showcases and all the other reprints trades today but I liked the comic sized reprints for a Quarter or fifty cents.

Greg, Did you skip books like the Spectre and others because of lack of funds, distribution (some mom and pop drug stores and newsstand places stuck to the more popular characters) or just no interest in certain characters or genres. I usually skipped the war comics and westerns and came to appreciate them later. I missed out on some great stories but I guess I would not have appreciated them at the time. Just curious.

“The DCU is not an iphone” -AMEN!!

Greg, Did you skip books like the Spectre and others because of lack of funds, distribution (some mom and pop drug stores and newsstand places stuck to the more popular characters) or just no interest in certain characters or genres. I usually skipped the war comics and westerns and came to appreciate them later. I missed out on some great stories but I guess I would not have appreciated them at the time. Just curious.

Oh, all of the above, really. When I started at age 6, it was budgetary; I was usually given a quarter to spend, and that meant I could get one 15-cent regular comic with a dime left over– or I could shoot the works on a DC GIANT or a MARVEL TALES. That was so easy it was hardly a conscious decision, I always got the bigger book. Even today I prefer comics in bulk, it’s why I love the Essentials and Showcases so much.

In later years, it was a genre thing, and also missing stuff on the stands. But the beauty of today’s comics retail landscape is that it’s damn near ALL OUT THERE now. So for me that means I can fill in the blanks on specific issues I missed when I was a kid, like with the SAVAGE SWORD collections or the JOHN CARTER OF MARS Books from Dark Horse… or I can finally get to things I skipped on the first newsstand go-round like THE LOSERS and BAT LASH.

I was rhapsodizing about this in last week’s column but it bears repeating– for fans in my demographic, that is to say, us middle-aged folks who arrived in the late 60s and stayed… THIS is the Golden Age. I occasionally feel almost guilty about it– you know, I think it would be nice if Marvel and DC put out some more general-interest books instead of aiming everything squarely at the people like us who already are intimately familiar with their respective superhero universes– but I can’t deny that having a publisher actively court my particular peer group with books like, oh, the Guardians of the Galaxy Steve Gerber hardcovers, or the complete Jack Kirby Losers, is really kind of amazing.

I think it was wrong to ditch Alan Scott’s marriage too. He had an entertainingly messed up marriage, given he was younger thru “comics-stuff”, and he had an insecure old wife who even sold her soul to Neron for a chance to be younger.

On the Shadow, I’ve read a few pulps (Living Shadow is a good starting point though Gangdom’s Doom is good as an introduction as the Shadow visits Chicago so the mobsters get an explanation of the Shadow’s methods [such as how he doesn't actually kill anyone but gangsters end up dead anyway from shooting each other or stumbling into their own death traps] – it also has a noteworthy event at the beginning..).
Of the Comics cersions only the Shadow Strikes seems to be based on the pulps all the other comics (and the Max Collins books) seem to be based on the Orson Welles radio version (with the power to cloud men’s minds).

I did read the all-star squadron – Probably DC’s largest superteam due to the sheer number of Golden Age Characters being included.

I keep hearing rumors that DC can’t keep going with 2nd volumes of Showcases for Jonah Hex, Unknown Soldier, and Warlord because they’ve hit some magical wall, beyond which DC would have to pay out too many residuals for the books to be affordable, but if that’s the case, why can they do Showcases of All-Star Squadron, Batman and the Outsiders, and Booster Gold from the ’80s?

I know that Bob Rozakis has complained that DC asked him to waive his residuals in order to get ‘Mazing Man reprinted… Did Thomas, Barr and Jurgens sign those waivers, but Fleischer, Micheline, and Grell won’t?

Hard to believe that you found a Jerry Grandinetti page that holds up next to Anderson and Adams, but that one’s pretty awesome.

I think that Marvel Shadow graphic novel is a real heartbreaker: Kaluta and Heath are great artists, but their styles don’t mesh at all, and they pretty much ruin each other. The original DC stuff is fantastic, of course.

always thought the all star squadron was a little crazy the first time around mostly the choice of characters who formed the team. earth 2 kind of bailed when james started the storyline to get fate established. mostly with an old enemy of nabu thinking someone would be stupid to give him the helmet. for fates power. spectre is one character whose entire run should be enjoyed all at once ala show case.

I keep hearing rumors that DC can’t keep going with 2nd volumes of Showcases for Jonah Hex, Unknown Soldier, and Warlord because they’ve hit some magical wall, beyond which DC would have to pay out too many residuals for the books to be affordable, but if that’s the case, why can they do Showcases of All-Star Squadron, Batman and the Outsiders, and Booster Gold from the ’80s?

I know that Bob Rozakis has complained that DC asked him to waive his residuals in order to get ‘Mazing Man reprinted… Did Thomas, Barr and Jurgens sign those waivers, but Fleischer, Micheline, and Grell won’t?

If that’s true, that’s pretty deplorable. What the hell is the point of DC making deals with creators for residuals if they don’t honor them?

I already have the Wrath of the Spectre trade, but I have to say, those Aparo Spectre pages in black & white look just incredible – I actually find myself considering that Showcase volume…

By the way, I loved All Star Squadron – it was one of my favorite DC titles at the time, together with the Wolfman & Perez New Teen Titans and the Levitz & Giffen Legion. Back then I really loved how Thomas worked in actual historical

…events and personalities – it tied into the stuff I was reading in history classes in school (sorry – accidentally hit the publish button before finishing that comment).
And I never knew that there was a comic adaptation of the Shadow movie, much less one drawn by Kaluta – has that been reprinted anywhere?

I bought All Star Squadron for one reason, and one reason only – Commander Steel. I loved his book but it got cancelled after 5 issues. But he reappears in ASS ( that’s not a good way to write it is it? ) Even so, I got sucked into the book the same way I did with Thomas’ Invaders title.

I’ve been following the Shadow on and off over the years and was lucky to get my Howard Chaykin limited series all signed by the man himself. A great reinterpretation. The Shadow Strikes was also a favourite and I loved the fact that DC was also printing Doc Savage at the time. And Frank Robbins on the Shadow – a match made in heaven IMO (although judging by the letters pages I was one of a few who thought this.) I know it gets a lot of flack, but I love the Shadow movie. Alec Baldwin was excellent and the Shadow himself looked spectacular. Sure there were some goofy moments, but goddamn, it was the Shadow up on the big screen with an AMAZING soundtrack. Love that film.

Sigh. If only the movie [1994's The Shadow] itself had looked this cool.

====================================================================================

The Shadow (1994) seems to have first done the adaptation with a revised origin which presents the hero as starting out as a selfish person who fights his way to redemption, now seen so commonly. (Iron Man, The Saint [1997], Arrow pilot [2012], Solomon Kane, Green Lantern, etc.). As Mr. Hatcher said, “a guy who starts as a jerk that has to fight his way through to redemption………..is apparently the only origin modern movie people know how to tell any more. (See Daredevil, Batman Begins, Elektra, and so on and so on.)”. (In print, Doctor Strange seems to have pioneered this idea to a degree, with him as a selfish surgeon who changed his way upon a traumatic accident, but the 1978 Doctor Strange telefilm did not present him as a boor but as a caring psychologist.)

Greg:
I totally agree with this week’s column. For me, DC has gone down hill since the “New 52″ reboot. Am not reading “Earth 2″ for many of the reasons you cited, because it just isn’t THE Justice Society, although “Worlds’ Finest” and a couple of other titles have been pretty good so far. But so few against the company’s total output…
Maybe it’s just because of how long I’ve been reading (and I do stress the R word) comic books, but I never saw the purpose of “Flashpoint”, let alone restarting DC continuity yet again.
On another note, if you enjoy seeing great art in its original black and white format, then you might want to consider the two volume “Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger” set, with a lot of Jim Aparo work in it.

I’ve been following the Shadow on and off over the years and was lucky to get my Howard Chaykin limited series all signed by the man himself. A great reinterpretation. The Shadow Strikes was also a favourite and I loved the fact that DC was also printing Doc Savage at the time. And Frank Robbins on the Shadow – a match made in heaven IMO (although judging by the letters pages I was one of a few who thought this.)

No, I loved those too. He was great on the Shadow, though going from Kaluta to Robbins is a shock for a regular reader. For me Frank Robbins’ art always worked best on period pieces. I could never get my head around his work on present-day Captain America or Batman, but he was somehow perfectly suited for The Shadow and The Invaders. I also really liked E.R. Cruz on the old DC Shadow, in particular when The Shadow met Richard Benson, the Avenger.

The Shadow Strikes is still the one to beat, though, as far as I’m concerned. That was career-best from Jones, Barreto, everyone who worked on it. This new Year One may knock it out of my personal #1 spot– I really love it– but overall, The Shadow Strikes is still my favorite version in comics.

I know it gets a lot of flack, but I love the Shadow movie. Alec Baldwin was excellent and the Shadow himself looked spectacular. Sure there were some goofy moments, but goddamn, it was the Shadow up on the big screen with an AMAZING soundtrack. Love that film.

I like it too, actually. Considering the burden ANY Shadow movie is going to carry– trying to find a way to please the radio-show fans AND the pulp fans– I thought the movie did a good job of splitting the difference. The difficulty is that the radio Shadow and the pulp Shadow really aren’t the same character at all. The radio guy was Lamont Crantson, a superpowered gentleman crimefighter who could turn invisible, whose only confidante was his friend and companion Margo Lane. The pulp guy was a mysterious cloaked vigilante named Kent Allard, that never actually used his real name, but instead occasionally posed as Lamont Cranston or Henry Arnaud or Fritz the police janitor. That guy was a lot scarier, laughed while he mowed crooks down in the street with his two .45s, and was a master of disguise with a team of operatives. Oddly enough, it was actually Denny O’Neil and Mike Kaluta who first cracked that problem in the 1970s comic; they used a lot of the same compromises the movie would use decades later, it almost looks like THAT’S the Shadow the filmmakers were adapting. The Alec Baldwin version is an okay Shadow movie but it’s a GREAT “O’Neil/Kaluta Shadow” movie.

And I never knew that there was a comic adaptation of the Shadow movie, much less one drawn by Kaluta – has that been reprinted anywhere?

Sadly, no. There’s a LOT of the Dark Horse Shadow that deserves collecting. There was a trade of “In the Coils of Leviathan” but that was it. They did a nice little Doc Savage-Shadow crossover too– I don’t think it was as good as the one in The Shadow Strikes! but it’s not bad.

On another note, if you enjoy seeing great art in its original black and white format, then you might want to consider the two volume “Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger” set, with a lot of Jim Aparo work in it.

Way ahead of you. I got those the day they came out; Phantom Stranger volume two, especially, is AWESOME. I’m usually good for the Essentials and Showcases. Haven’t gotten around to Spider-Woman yet, and I don’t really care about Dazzler or the Atom, but otherwise there’s a pretty complete set of both Essentials and Showcases here. I even took a chance on the YOUNG LOVE Showcase, though I haven’t looked at it yet.

Hope you popped for the Showcases of Sea Devils and Haunted Tank. All that Russ Heath artwork looks great in black and white. He also splits the later Sgt. Rock volumes with Kubert.
I get so frustrated reading the Amazon reviews of these books with so many disappointed to discover that they aren’t in color. If only they could read the info about them on the site!
Just wish DC in particular would explore more of their 1950s materials, especially the Gil Kane westerns that they could reprint. Hell, I’d jump at the chance to buy Showcase Presents Rex the Wonder Dog.

John King

April 20, 2013 at 10:59 am

Of the Comics cersions only the Shadow Strikes seems to be based on the pulps all the other comics (and the Max Collins books) seem to be based on the Orson Welles radio version (with the power to cloud men’s minds).
====================================================================================

Did you mean Michael Collins (actually Dennis Lynds)?

Andrew Collins

April 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I still prefer to think of the whole “New 52″ as one big Elseworlds. Ironically, I’ve actually enjoyed Worlds’ Finest, one of the few series I’ve bought, mainly for the art and for having the Helena Wayne version of the Huntress back. That’s been about the only thing I’ve liked so far in the reboot…

And count me in also as an admirer of DC’s Shadow Strikes! series. I hung on to the whole run of it when I sold the bulk of my collection a few years ago. It holds up very well to repeated readings.

And anybody wanting to read that O’Neil/Kaluta Shadow graphic novel, I saw a listing on Amazon from Dynamite, so it looks like they’re bringing it back into print…

If Matt Wagner was drawing the art on the Shadow book as well as writing them, as he did with the Batman books, I would have considered it. But I’m not keen on the art they have for it. And it saddens me that Matt doesn’t seem to do much art anymore.

PB210.. You’re right…not certain if I misread, misremembered or got my information from an inaccurate source.
I apologise if anyone was upset or confused by my error.

thinking back I started reading all-star squadron duting Crisis on Earth Prime with the Infinity Inc connection and Jerry Ordway’s art encouraging me

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives