Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Nights Of The Shadow One!

DC's The Shadow comics from the early 70's are some of the most handsome comics of that decade. These offer up some juicy Mike Kaluta artwork in the early issues and Denny O'Neil is the writer throughout. Even the ad announcing the series features some lush Berni Wrightson work. Several years ago, I finally completed my run on these pulp-comics classics, and I want to share the reading experience.

The Shadow #1 has a cover date of November 1973 on it. It offers up a typical crime story called "The Doom Puzzle". We meet The Shadow, Lamont Cranston, Margo Lane, Shrevvy, Burbank, and Harry Vincent. The Shadow is up against a gang planning to rob a currency transfer from Wall Street to the Capitol. It involves submarines and all manner of henchmen. There is the usual mussem-up style of fisticuffs, Harry gets held hostage briefly, the Shadow gets a few with his pistols, and the auto-gyro comes into key performance giving the Shadow the chance to drop some depth-charges on the sub. The ultimate villain isn't that hard to detect, but the way he's dispatched is worthy.

All-in-all a solid Shadow adventure, compressed to comics size, but holding most of the key elements a fan familiar with the later Shadow tales might well expect. The text piece in this one tells the story of how Editor Denny O'Neil was contacted by the Shadow and more or less compelled to begin relating his stories. There's also a cool code and some code-breaking.

A solid comics package. I bought it off the comic racks way back when, enjoyed it thoroughly, but then for some unknown reasons I never bought another issue of The Shadow, at least for several decades. I am happy I made up for that mistake. 

Visit The Internet Archive to read this actual issue at this link. 

More to come.

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  1. Interestingly, the comic was due to be cancelled with #8 due to poor sales, but then Frank Robbins took over with #5 and sales increased. So the plan to cancel it was, er, cancelled - though after Robbins left the comic, it was cancelled three issues later.

    1. Interesting. Sounds similar in ways to how things went down with Barry Smith on Conan. It took a while and patience for Smith's Conan to find a sufficient audience but as spectacular as Smith's Conan was, much like Kaluta's Shadow, the comic became a durable reliable rock-solid seller when John Buscema stepped aboard.

  2. I wasn't aware that Robbins work increased sales on the Shadow. Good to know such a maligned artist at this time made such an impact. Kaluta's art on the Shadow was excellent but Frank Robbins art had the feel and sight of the times and the world of the Shadow.

    1. Their approaches to the material were so different that I give them both marks for success. But I agree, it's neat to find out a maligned artist like Robbins got the win.