Who knows what evil lies in the hearts of men? My money’s on Garth Ennis. For years he’s been writing comics featuring despicable villains and the heroes that put them down, from the Punisher to The Boys to Jennifer Blood.
And now he’s back, writing one of modern fiction’s original criminal-hunting badasses, The Shadow. Issue #2 starts with a transpacific flight that doesn’t go as scheduled and ends… well, with the Shadow doing what he does best.
Ennis is balancing a lot of elements here. Long conversations between far-flung characters dominate the issue, but not in a bad way. Even in the slow moments, a sense of movement is preserved, largely through Aaron Campbell’s varied shots of each scene.
It’s interesting to see Ennis strike the balance between the early pulp mentality of the orignal Shadow and his own love of perverted deviant villains. His touch is there, definitely, but he sneaks in the degradation in ways that are acceptable. After all, the Shadow’s specialty is looking into the deeds that drive men mad. The Shadow himself is formidable and fearful – inhumanly cool and collected in his alter ego, and chillingly intense when in action. Campbell masters this change as well, giving the hunter an unearthly, supernatural terror.
Another pulp trope shines through loud and clear, and that’s the jet setting. Every character is either on a plane, boarding a plane, or has just gotten of a new-fangled, high-speed clipper – and they’re always talking about some place else. Campbell takes us from oceanic vistas to charming high-class bistros to the throne room of the Emperor of Japan, and seeds these scenes with the style of a 1940s postcard. Ennis takes us around the globe with his words, shedding light on locales and people yet to come in an enticing way.
I say, give it a shot. It’s pulpy goodness done well, and it seems to be a respectable rendition of the century-old hero. There’s a lot to enjoy about this comic.