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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although the timing of the one-shot seems odd with Howard Chaykin‘s mini-series (and that crappy current-day comic) being Dynamite’s only current titles involving The Shadow, The Shadow #0 offers us an one-shot at the opposite end of the spectrum of Chaykin’s tale be giving us a peek at the vigilante’s earlier days and his ties to an escape artist named Harry Houdini.
The series’ two-issue finale begins here with a string of unexplained deaths in Chinatown and the coordinated rise of the recent undead by an unknown force planning on taking control of New York City. The unexpected horror-element is a surprise as The Shadow dismisses reports of the walking dead only to be attacked by a mob of zombies.