the shadow knows

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Writers Simon Spurrier and Dan Watters are not the first who have attempted to update The Shadow and bring the vigilante into a more modern storyline. It’s a problematic decision as the world of the Shadow, including the age in which he was born and prospered, is very much tied to the core of the character. The first issue gives us stories of the Shadow, a legend half-forgotten. Our narrator is not either Lamont Cranston nor Margo Lane. The later doesn’t appear in the issue (which, aside from flashbacks, may be true of the former as well).

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The death of a descendant of Lamont Cranston, a well-respected orderly at Arkham Asylum, leads Batman down a rabbit hole. Encountering an odd shadowy creature at the crime scene, Batman goes back to the beginning investigating Cranston, his network of informants, and even talking with the man’s closest ally Margo Lane.

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The five-issue mini-series comes to a conclusion with a twist that isn’t going to be that big of a surprise to readers. Finally face-to-face with Zhu Khanum, the daughter of Shiwan Khan, the Shadow‘s attempt at vengeance for Margo Lane‘s death is stalled when the daughter of the Shadow’s greatest enemy reveals Margo is alive. Brainwashed as Zhu Khanum’s loyal soldier, Margo attacks The Shadow with ferocity.

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Following the loss of Margo Lane, the Shadow begins to feel untethered without his companion’s council. After paying a visit to one his most loyal soldiers, Dr. Tam, Lamont feels steady enough to continue his search for he illusive Red Empress. Despite losing control at one point while scaring the information he needs out of a witness, the Shadow is able to finally find the secret mobile lair of his enemy.

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Oliver Harper returns to take a look back at 1994’s The Shadow.

Retrospective / Review: The Shadow (1994)

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Head over to RazorFine to check out my list of the Top Ten Super-Hero Movies (Before They Were Cool)

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Picking up from events introduced in last year’s The Shadow #0, Dynamite Entertainment launches a new series starring The Shadow and his war against a secret cabal of illusionists known as The Society of United Magicians. Opening with the death of magician George Carlini and The Shadow taking on a group of circus performers and then interrupting a seance, the first few pages (as bizarre as they are) lay the groundwork for arc as the Shadow reveals himself to a low-ranking member of the order that he, and he alone, holds Harry Houdini’s secret of “the Last Illusion” which the society covets.

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The conclusion of what if? tales such as Grendel vs. The Shadow are usually the weakest piece of the story, not for fault of the storyteller but simply because the end must reset back to the status quo without allowing either iconic figure to be truly beaten (or killed). Even with these limitations writer/artist Matt Wagner manages to end the three-issue mini-series in style giving us two final confrontations between Hunter Rose and The Shadow.

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The three-issue mini-series resumes as Grendel continues to grab control of the city’s various crime families and bring them under his banner while ruthlessly killing any who stand in his way. Grendel vs. The Shadow #2 also gives us the first meeting between the pair which both Lamont Cranston and Hunter Rose will think long and hard about in the days to come as each has apparently met an adversary they may not be able to defeat.

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Finding himself sent back in time to 1930s New York after his encounter with an ancient artifact, Hunter Rose makes the best of the situation by using his well-honed skills and knowledge of the future to go about carving out a new empire in the name of Grendel during the waning days of prohibition.

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