bringing The Spider into modern times - were writing a new Shadow series (called The Shadow Now) for Dynamite, I had confidence that they would do a pretty decent job....
However, I was not all that impressed with the book, and hope that it redeems itself in the next few issues.
It's not bad - it kicks off into high gear plot-wise from page one, but it never quite
feels right. Much of it is the writing - Liss' use of the Shadow as a first person narrator
seems wholly inappropriate (in fact, the Shadow comes across as a mix of hard-boiled detective
and exposition machine). We are brought up to speed very quickly - the Shadow's posing as his
Lamont Cranston III (his own great grandson), and he had left his crime fighting efforts to
rejuvenate himself. After finding that his current organization is less than efficient, he
finds himself in a world where his ability to cloud men's minds....well, in a world with laser
gun sights and 24 hour surveillance, it can be a challenge. In short, the Shadow finds himself
outplayed as an old enemy resurfaces on the cusp of victory....
....and the story just seems too mechanical, as if Liss used TV Tropes
as a reference guide. It's not terrible, but the pieces never quite seem to come together. Many of the changes
in Liss' Spider - most notably in one or two key relationships - give the book a greater sense of drama
and heighten the stakes; here, it seems mostly to be modernization for its own sake. There are some clever
touches, but it never quite feels right. (I will give it three issues, but in all fairness, the kickoff issue of
The Shadow Now does not motivate me to actively seek out the second issue.
Although I loved Worley's art in The Spider, some of the artistic choices seem a little forced
(like giving Cranston/Shadow an everlasting case of red eye). It's not bad, and the layout/composition
of many pages is excellent, but on the whole, it's a case of too much ambition not paying off out of
Modernizing pulp heroes seems to be the rage these days, and perhaps my involvement as a potential
writer and current copyeditor for pulp publications has colored my perspective. The Shadow Now
is not a bad book, but its first issue is rather weak. Here's hoping that the next few issues grow stronger.