The Shadow returns, sans Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell, in this “Annual” issue to face an ancient enemy of the higher power he serves. Independent of the current arc in pre-World War II China, this issue of “The Shadow” unfortunately fails to meet the standards of Ennis and Campbell’s current run. The artwork by Dennis Calero shows promise in certain areas, but leaves a lot to be desired in others. Tom Sniegoski’s dialogue is generic, and his script brings nothing new to the character. This is a subpar issue in an otherwise excellent series.
WRITTEN BY: Tom Sniegoski
ART BY: Dennis Calero
PUBLISHER: Dynamite Entertainment
RELEASE: Sept. 26th, 2012
One of the biggest problems with “The Shadow” Annual #1 is it focuses too much on the title character. That might sound like an odd criticism to make, but the fact is, The Shadow is not a very
interesting character. He shoots people, talks to the dead and disappears from place to place in a manner similar to “The Coon” on South Park. All of which are cool, but these qualities don’t make him terribly interesting. “The Shadow” works best when it focuses on Lamont Cranston, the darkly humorous, intelligent, analytical and determined human being.
It’s not a coincidence that the best – perhaps the only – character moment in the issue comes when Cranston intentionally causes a server to cut his finger for almost spilling one of his drinks. It’s interesting to see the effect of frustration on Lamont, who has been sensing an evil presence he can’t identify, and how it causes him to indulge his inner sadistic tendencies normally reserved for his murderous alter-ego. Sadly, it’s all Shadow, possessed demon-children and mob bosses with generic dialogue from there on out. Maybe Sniegoski could have made an epic clash between diametrically opposed forces of good and evil interesting over a series arc. However, condensed into a single issue, there’s no sense of gravitas, especially considering that the conflict is resolved by the end.
Calero’s art certainly has its moments. Landscapes, people, everything is usually detailed and atmospheric. The color team does an excellent job as well. The biggest problem, however, is Calero’s faces and eyes. His character’s facial features simply don’t seem to correspond to their emotions, and their eyes seem detached from their faces. It’s jarring and takes away from what impact the script possesses. The artwork in the final few pages – specifically the flames, which appear to have been created digitally – also fails to meet the standard of the previous art in this issue.
“The Shadow” Annual #1 doesn’t live up to the rest of the series from Dynamite. Fortunately, it is of no consequence to the current plot, and we can look forward to Ennis and Campbell finishing their run on the series in issue #6.
Reviewed by – George Shunick