Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Colorist: Marco Lesko
Just like The Spirit last month, I noticed Dynamite relauncing a classic Pulp character in The Shadow. Also like The Spirit, I was excited about the writer for the new series, in this case Cullen Bunn, but knew very little about the artist, Giovanni Timpano. While I’m not initially as excited about The Shadow, I definitely enjoyed the issue.
Before going in, I wasn’t aware that there was a 0 issue previous to this issue, which has some big story points. That being said Bunn does an excellent job filling in new readers who are inevitably coming in on this number one. The story is fairly straight forward, a cabal of magicians, “The Society of United Magicians” (ILLUSIONS MICHAEL!) is more or less killing magicians in order for them to find out the secret Harry Houdini is hiding in the spirit world. The Shadow, in being the Shadow, is sworn to fight evil, and these magicians are certainly just that. While the idea of a society of magicians seems almost goofy in itself, these guys are pretty terrifying. The appear and sound over the top, in the classic Pulp sense, but when it comes to the nitty gritty, they are vicious. That grabbed me for the story, in that they could really do anything to achieve their goals. When approaching these Pulp stories, it’s important to realize that the general stories are pretty straight forward, it’s all in the execution of the over the top characters that draw in the reader. Instead of trying to insert humanity or something like that into these type of characters, it’s best suited to just embrace their simple yet crazy nature. Bunn does this excellently here. Also, The Shadow in himself is a pretty horrifying character, especially to everyone in that universe. His presence in this issue is sometimes fairly chilling, especially with that laugh.
The art was the definition of mixed bag for me. The pencil and ink work from Timpano is certainly high quality. When I really looked at each panel, I could see nice figure work and, in some cases, some nice use of shadow. I could see a little bit of Steve Epting in the line and shadow as well. Where I fell off was with the coloring. I’ve seen this on a few Dynamite books, so it might be a production thing, but the colors were a little too muddy for my taste. The biggest issue I had was that I thought it obscured some of the great work from Timpano. On top of that, muddy colors inevitably brings some issues with storytelling. I can understand making the colors almost dirty, but just a slightly tighter palette would make this book really solid. I’m hoping we get that with issue 2.
When it comes to the Pulp characters, I’m always willing to take a look. Bunn is weaving a cool story here, and I’m hoping the next issue continues that.
3.5 ILLUSIONS out of 5