• Shadow, The - Leviathan



    Shadow, The - Leviathan
    Released by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: May 9th, 2018.
    Written by: Si Spurrier, Dan Watters, Ricardo Jamie
    Illustrated by: Daniel Hdr
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    This one opens in a hospital. Here a soon to be doctor interning in the hospital named Mary Jerez treats a patient. As she does, she tells the patient about the time that she met ‘him’ and how it was a formative experience. She tells us how, in high school, she had a crush on her biology professor, how her school life was fairly ordinary until two students showed up with assault rifles and opened fire. It was then that she heard that laugh as those twin .45’s opened up and saw that justice was served.

    Warning – though this is a TPB review of some material that’s been out for a while, obviously not everyone has read it – there are some spoilers ahead.

    And then we see her patient, a man covered head to toe in burn marks, unable to talk. She keeps talking, noting how The Shadow has been out there serving justice since the 1930s and yet no one seems to know anything about him, and yet everyone knows what he does. We see through her flashbacks how he confronted the school shooters, called them powerless, laughed at them, told them how he understood – after all, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man. After he took them out, he disappeared as quickly as he appeared, vanishing just before the SWAT team showed up. One of the shooters was left dead, the other went insane.

    She sets up a TV for her patient – nothing is worse than silence – but after turning it on and watching the news, no, there are things worse than silence. “I think the world got sick” she tells him, but The Shadow seems to be immune. So where has he been since she saw him in high school ten years ago? And then the patient speaks…

    The second issue opens in a massive old home. An old man declares ‘It’s him!’ as his heavily armed guards prepare for war. That sinister laughter we all know rings out through the halls as a mysterious figure in a black coat and hat gives chase, seemingly impervious to the onslaught of bullets fired his way. The toughest of the guards tries to kill The Shadow by pushing him into the fireplace and beating him with a brick. It’s as good a plan as any, but he falls prey to The Shadow’s ring and once he’s under his spell is told to ‘sit’ and ‘wait.’ The dark avenger heads to the roof where the old man is trying to escape. As the old man tells him ‘This isn’t your world anymore!’ the building crumbles.

    Footage of this escape winds up on the news and we’re told that the police have yet to reveal any details of the case that took place in upstate New York. At a press conference the President himself is asked for details, if there are any ties to his administration. Despite the fact that this particular rumor comes from ‘a reliable source’ one of the reporters who asks about is escorted out of the room and the press officer denies it all as conspiracy theory nonsense.

    Cut to the hospital from the first issue where Mary Jerez starts to wonder if the burn victim she’s been treating for the last few weeks might be related to the fire. The timing works. The man in the bed can’t remember anything, so Mary’s going to try recovered memory therapy with him, even if it’s more than a little unorthodox and definitely against the rules.

    We flashback to 1929 where The Shadow wages his war on crime, taking out mobsters and criminals aplenty. When a hit at a brothel/speakeasy leaves a few people trapped in a room, one of the prostitutes having to try to keep her infant child safe, he butts in and reminds them all that the weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Relieved that she and her week old baby are safe, the prostitute asks The Shadow to name the boy – The Shadow chooses the name Worthy and requests that she raise him to make sure that he is.

    The session ends. Mary and her sister Luisa head to the gym after work. They finish up and talk about Mary’s predicament, and that masked assailant and it’s then that Mary realizes how big this is getting.

    Mary is trying to track down Myra Reldon with no luck. She’s been let go from her job, her social media account are gone or locked down and she’s not having any luck contacting her. So she goes ‘old school’ and finds her apartment, heads over there and knocks on the door. The bum in the hallway sucking back something out of a brown paper bag tells her ‘She ain’t here.’ He also tells her she’s in a bad neighborhood. Mary, no fool, decides to split, ignoring come ons from guys on the street, pretending to be on her cell phone so she doesn’t have to make eye contact with anyone.

    Then Mary calls her sister Luisa, waking her out of bed even though it’s after ten. They know that the guy who tried to kill Mary gets out the psychiatric hospital soon, this makes them nervous. Luisa’s been trying to get info on the ‘heknows.com’ website but hasn’t been able to get past the encryption. It does seem to have inspired people though, to put on a clock and a mask and head out there to ‘clean up the neighborhood.’ This proves a double edged sword for Mary when suddenly a gang of men dressed in Shadow-esque attire come up to her, call her a ‘goddamned wetback’ and start harassing her. It doesn’t look good until an old man comes up to them and accuses them of ‘wearing his skin.’

    It seems that some of the miscreants in the neighborhood, like the bum in the apartment hallway, may in fact by The Shadow’s agents. They’ve been keeping tabs on Mary and have shown up just in time to save her. They’re less than pleased that The Shadow’s message and motives have been turned into a tool for white nationalists and racists. One of the group just so happens to be Myra – she wants to know why Mary’s been following her. Myra tells her how she was fired and warns Mary to stay out of it but she’s not taking no for an answer. Myra hands her a red scarf and instructs her to ‘give it to him’ and by ‘him’ she means the man that she’s been treating in the hospital, the man that Mary suspects is in fact The Shadow.

    The next day at work Mary injects the man with some Epinephrine and asks him more about Worthy Delaney. It’s then that was flashback to 1944. The Shadow has been tied up by a German spy ring that he’s just exposed, and they intend to reveal his face in public – it doesn’t end well, but it puts The Shadow in touch with a teenaged boy named Jerry.

    Mary is standing on a rooftop with The Shadow. She knows he’s got third degree burns all over his body, he shouldn’t be able to wear that cloak, but there he is. He quiets her, there’s a crime happening just below them. A man named Daryl that Mary recognizes from the gym is beating up his girlfriend. Before she can ask The Shadow if he’s going to do something, he’s gone.

    Down on the street, a cloaked figure with a red scarf jumps in – but it’s not The Shadow, it’s one of those who have been inspired by him, a female copycat. She and Daryl fight, he gets the better of her and when her scarf comes off and her face is exposed, Mary recognizes her as her sister, Luisa. She jumps in and hits him but Daryl’s a big guy, he grabs her but she claws at her ear, manages to grab Luisa’s gun and points it at him – but before she can pull the trigger an ominous HAHAHAHA rings out and twin .45’s blaze through the darkness. The Shadow took care of Daryl before Mary had to.

    With the immediate threat neutralized, Mary tells The Shadow that this is his fault, what happened to Luisa is because of him. He acknowledges this, he didn’t mean for this to happen, it wasn’t supposed to happen. But tools can be remade, he tells her – and then she looks into his eyes…

    Flashback! It’s the summer of 1969 and in New York City a black man just back from Tet complains to the white landlord that won’t rent to him about the situation. A group of the black man’s friends show up and step in. The landlord complains, they’re not even his buildings, they belong to Alastair Wyatt, or maybe his father Fred. Fair Housing Act be damned, the Wyatt’s don’t want to rent to anyone that isn’t white. The situation goes from bad to worse when some ‘freelance enforcers’ show up, led by Worthy Delaney. He takes care of the situation, or at least he thinks he does – then The Shadow shows up for a second go round with Worthy. But then the black people that were hoping to solve this step in – ‘You think a dead white man is gonna help us any?’

    They don’t want his help. And that gives him a glimmer of hope.

    We open up the fifth issue with a news cast covering the recent Shadow inspired attacks wherein self-style vigilantes clad in black coats with red scarves take the law into their own hands. Mary calls her sister Luisa, who as we now know, was one of those vigilantes, to check in on her. She may be tucked away in a hospital recuperating but she’s’ had time to dig around online and found out that the ‘heknows.com’ website that’s been behind all of this has been taken off line, and then put back up online five minutes later on the dark web.

    Mary finishes her phone call and the heads to the police station where she meets with the man who almost killed her, one of those same vigilantes. They talk – mostly about his therapy – but also about what The Shadow showed him. When this comes up, he freaks out, mumbling about ‘leviathan’ and ‘teeth.’ He complains that something is slithering his head, he wants it out. He’s clearly not well in the head yet, even if his release is being discussed.

    Mary’s next stop is the hospital. She insists on seeing that burned man that she knows is The Shadow. He’s in rough shape, but he has enough in him to do that weird mind-meld thing that he does, at which point Mary sees another story from his past. We see him meet up with Myra for the first time since she and the other operatives believed him to be dead, we see the World Trade Center buildings fall and we see the efforts of American imperialism make a difference around the world – at first, a positive difference, but then things change.

    ‘Allies became enemies and the people stopped paying attention.’

    And Worthy Delaney’s part in all of this? Quite sinful. While The Shadow rested, the world around him changed. Cutting out the tumor isn’t as easy as it once was. The war moved from the streets to the screen where he couldn’t follow it. The Shadow no longer knows.

    And then the lights go off and the special ops show up, guns blazing.

    This sixth issue starts off with a dramatic escape in which a nude Shadow makes a daring escape from the hospital, armed S.W.A.T. officers unable to find him before he leaps to freedom. People talk. The news covers the hospital evacuation as a gas leak but some people aren’t buying that. They wonder if the whole Shadow mob thing going on has something to do with the government.

    Mary, meanwhile, is in a police interrogation room tied to a chair. The cops want to know what she knows about Worthy Delany, why she was sneaking around the hospital after it was evacuated and where her patient may have gone to. While this is going on, her sister Luisa is interviewed on TV about blowing the lid off of the conspiracy. Eventually Mary is given her freedom.

    Alone with her thoughts, she starts to piece together how Kent Allard inherited the Cranston estate, how he took on the mantra of The Shadow. She sneaks into the Allard mansion and finds him there, unable to save Myra Reldon, the last of his ‘network’ who was injured. They talk about Delaney and The Shadow’s connection to him but it’s not what Mary thinks – Delany was the one behind the website, he tried to take The Shadow’s name and methods for his own during his brief retirement, but it only wound up bringing The Shadow back. Delany was the man she was treating at the hospital all this time. She says he used her, he says he made her a valuable ally.

    And then The Shadow shows her ‘the last incision before the dawn’ and the ‘sickness that has infected leviathan’…

    The ends with the sixth issue, a high concept work of dark and heady writing that wraps up the threads of the plot quite well while still leaving things open for another visit down the road. Si Spurrier and Dan Watters have done an interesting job of bringing The Shadow into the modern day, showing us he might – or might not – deal with the advanced technology of the era that could leave a character like him in his own past. The writing is smart, the story quite gripping and the ending? Well, we won’t spoil it, but it’s really well done.

    The artwork from Daniel Hdr, with some help from Ricardo Jaime is also quite strong. The book looks its best when we’re focusing on The Shadow, his cloak swirling, contrasting with the shock-blood red of his trademark scarf. He’s an intimidating looking creation and drawn really well here. The colors from Natalia Marques help here too. Lots of nice detail throughout the book.

    Here’s hoping we see this creative team take another crack at The Shadow sooner rather than later – this was a really strong book right from the first issue and I’d love to see more from them down the road.

    This trade paperback edition collects all six issues of the run and features a great new cover piece from legendary Shadow artist Michael Kaluta (whose work on the series for DC in the seventies has yet to be topped, even if some have come very close). In addition to the six issues proper, we also get a great cover gallery showing off pieces from Kaluta, Brandon Peterson, Neal Adams, Tommy Lee Edwards, Charles Wilson III, Kelley Jones and a few others.