Review: The Shadow #1

The Shadow #1 cover
Cover by Michael W. Kaluta

The Shadow #1
Published and © by DC, October-November 1973

Title: “The Doom Puzzle!”
Synopsis: The Shadow and associates follow clues to thwart the robbery of worn-out currency making its way back to Washington, D.C.

Writer: Denny O’Neil
Artist: Michael W. Kaluta

Review: This reviewer has long believed the 1970’s Shadow revival from DC was a little overrated – a notion reaffirmed by a recent reread of this debut issue. That’s not to say The Shadow #1 isn’t enjoyable. Writer Denny O’Neil taps into the Shadow’s pulpy roots with aplomb. This gritty, noir tale breaks no new ground, but its pulp-inspired ruthlessness is a bit shocking, even for the increasingly grim-and-gritty ’70s. Not as good is the art of Michael Kaluta. While his potential is certainly clear, the young artist’s inking here is light and scratchy, and his storytelling is sometimes confusing.

Grade: B+

Second opinion: “Kaluta has come through aces high. He does more than just draw the mag – he creates a whole mood of the period throughout.” – Comic Media & The Comic Reader Newsletter #8, August-September 1973 … “Exquisite Mike Kaluta art.” – Alan Brightmore, Comics Unlimited #50, June-July 1979 … “Denny O’Neil superbly adapted the old pulp hero to comic form … fantastic art by Mike Kaluta.” – Hassan Yusuf, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983 … “Denny O’Neil’s writing apes the pulp style that introduced the Shadow in the 1930s.” – Frank Plowright, The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: A pulp revival with some on the early Bronze Age’s best talent at the helm.

Character quotable:You call it bedlam – another might call it blasting powder – and I call it vengeance – the vengeance of the Shadow!” – The Shadow, mysterious dark avenger

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on June 26, 2010.

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