These kids today! They're so besotted with their smart phones and their pokey mans and that noise they call music, why, they might only think of The Shadow as the property behind the ill-fated Alec Baldwin box office bomb from the 1990s. They probably don't even know that venerable pulp fiction hero has had any number of failed reboots, as a seemingly endless parade of intellectual property salvagers have attempted to drag the 1930s avenger of the night kicking and screaming into any one of several modern contexts. Why, here's one right here.
In the mid 1960s America's blissful respite from masked adventurers and super-crime fighters came to an end. The comic book world once again seethed with four color muscles and increasingly incoherent action as everybody tried to get into, or back into, the act, including Archie Comics. Not content to shove Reggie and Jughead into skintight super-togs, Archie Comics licenced The Shadow, ditched his hat, his cloak, his enormous death-dealing .45 automatics, and generally everything people knew and liked about the character, and threw him into an ill-fitting mask and cape for some ill-fitting superhero adventures, sometimes involving what appears to be Viking Jimmy Olsen.
Did I mention that these comics are ridiculously wordy? I sure hope they were paying Jerry "Superman" Siegel by the word, it was long past time he started making some bank from comics. Certainly the sheer volume of verbiage here threatens to overwhelm the reader before he even gets started. Suffice to say that Shiwan Khan, descendant of Genghis Khan, is the Shadow's Asiatic, vaguely racist enemy straight outta the pulps, while Attila The Hunter here is descended from Attila The Hun and shares his ancestor's desire to pillage the world while attired in bearskins. Can The Shadow survive the combined attack of these two fugitives from justice and reputable geneology?
ONE PERFECT SHOT:
THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019)
Cinematography by Jarin Blaschke
Directed by Robert Eggers
Only the brilliant mind of The Shadow could come up with a rifle that fired a grappling hook. What a super genius, coming up with this amazingly original idea.
Hey, all right, good for you buddy. Now we can all go home.
The Dream Dictionary (Tony Crisp, Dell, 1990) says that dreaming of lighthouses may warn of "danger of unconscious elements that may wreck areas of your life unless avoided" while dreaming of The Shadow represents "any part of ourself which we reject, and so do not allow expresssion in our life." Maybe Shiwan Khan really wants to dress up in a tight blue suit and a green cape?
Shiwan Khan is so dedicated to being a top functioning evil genius that he orders a henchman to dress up like The Shadow and attempt to kill him whenever he might be off guard - but if that henchman tries to kill him on his own time, look out!
Part of being a good Shiwan Khan henchman is being able to talk your way out of the frequent firing squads. Also helpful is refraining from commenting on Shiwan Khan's fashion sense, which screams "1956 long haul trucker." And remember to avoid the steam whistle! It's shrill and annoying!
Ha! Wouldst dare to toss around the archaic second person singular just like it wasn't any big deal, eh? Eh?
Let's pause a minute in our dream-interrupting henchman murder revenge wrestling here and remind ourselves that we're getting pretty deep into this The Shadow comic and so far The Shadow hasn't actually shown up. Maybe this Monitor-Alarm and its utmost urgency concerns The Shadow!
Nope, it's our behorned wildman Attila The Hunter and his gang of dapper gangsters versus Shiwan Khan and HIS gang of granite-jawed truck stop mobsters!
It's a battle of squints and mustaches as Fake Thor and Fat Fu Manchu exchange wordy insults and chunky Paul Reinman poses. I kinda like his work here, it's all broad strokes and nicely spotted blacks. Go Paul R.
This is one of those titanic battles where the two armies stand there, point machine guns at each other and shout things like "Ho!" and "Bravo!" This is why the Korean War was a three year stalemate, this nonsense right here.
It takes the wisdom of a really wise old guy - or the eight year olds reading this comic - to realize that these two goofs should team up and fight The Shadow. I am totally in love with the corporate board room toast scene here in the fourth panel, complete with conference table and potato chips. Off to the side Michael Scott is setting up a whiteboard for "Diversity Day."
Hey comic book we're getting along in the story here and so far there is no The Shadow. What's that? We're getting warmer? This is The Shadow's HOUSE? The Shadow doesn't lock his doors and windows?
Finally here at the end of Part One we see The Shadow, leaping into action to stop that sneak thief from breaking into the room where The Shadow takes his daily Danger-Tonic, now sold in cans.
I don't wanna seem indifferent to the taking of a human life, but this is The Shadow here, he used to blast gaping holes into legions of thugs and gangsters with his flame-spurting Colt automatics. It'd be a lot easier to just let Cat Burglar here take a few slugs. But the almighty power of the Comics Code cannot be denied.
Remember The Shadow has the mysterious power to cloud men's minds! And also lions! Also, he keeps a real live lion in his Survival-Course room on the off chance that the sudden appearance of a lion that he already knows is there and has to pay the food and vet bills for will somehow keep his survival wits super sharp!
What are you gonna do this weekend? Man, I'm gonna go to Fillmore and have hallucinations beamed straight into my brain! Far out.
And thus does the weed of crime bear bitter, confused and bruised-buttocks fruit! The end. No, wait, we still have this whole Shiwan Khan - Attila The Hunter thing to get through, dammit
This target range is where Shiwan Khan gets some of his greatest and most amazing ideas for destroying The Shadow. Since he's been trying to destroy The Shadow for what, thirty five or forty years at this point, one might be tempted to say that his target-range ideas stink out loud and maybe he might want to find somewhere else to do his thinking. But now he's got a really swell idea of kidnapping The Shadow's girlfriend. That's his Skilled Practitioner In The Black Ruthless Skullduggery Arts target range idea, kidnap the girlfriend. Some deep thinking there, Shiwan.
I gotta give it to Shiwan Khan - he could have left this simple kidnap to one of his army of thugs, but no, he went all the way to New York just to turn on the light in the Purple Fox club and give that kidnap some drama. It's the little touches that mean true professionalism.
Meanwhile elsewhere in New York, a giant bearded dude in a bearskin holding a battle axe has been wandering around like it ain't nothing, and the average New Yorker passersby? They don't know and they don't care. Have fun with that axe, Hornhat, I gotta get home to Queens, the Mets is losin' again tonight.
One way to deter future world-dominating evil doers is to make them wander through a wax museum full of statues of Nero, Hitler, and, uh, King Herod, not quite up there with Hitler, I guess, but it's what we could get on short notice. Another way to deter future world-dominating evil doers is to stand around insulting their ancestors until they leap through the window behind you!!
Perhaps the most amazing thing about The Shadow, that thing that everybody knows about The Shadow, is that he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Right? Except apparently when the evil leaps through a window and zaps him with the electro-blast gun, I guess The Shadow didn't see that one coming. Luckily for The Shadow, a tiny bit of sportsmanship and fair play still resides in Attila The Hunter.
Naturally you have instructed her in our forceful methods, you've commanded her to fill out the proper forms, and you've demanded two forms of ID and confirmed her address is current!
Uh oh! Look out Margo Lane, it seems Attila The Hunter suddenly figured out you're the only woman on Shiwan Khan's evil island, and in fact, the only woman in this entire comic book!
Margo has her pick of Off-Brand Conan or Evil Oriental Trucker Sluggo. Who says women can't have it all?
That's right, men are fighting over Margo again! She's still got it!
Suddenly the medieval combat is interrupted by none other than The Shadow, using his eerie mind-clouding powers to... trip a dude!
Nope, it's Yukal Torrg in Shadow drag again, obeying Khan's orders to attack him whenever he's off guard! But Attila The Hunter is having none of it.
Whoops, while these two goofs were battling over Margo Lane, Margo Lane hit the highway. Time to track her down in the atomic sub and just, uh, shoot her, I guess. Meanwhile, The Shadow uses every resource at his command to think straight! Think straighter, Shadow!
MUST.. THINK... CLEARLY!! MUST... KEEP.. HAIR... CONTROLLED!! MUST!!!!
More amazing than The Shadow's ability to beam hallucinations into the brains of others is his ability to stash his costume and his giant cape and mask somewhere under his wrinkly Paul Reinman suit. Maybe he's just beaming a hallucination of his costume into our brain, and he's really just wearing a Speedo.
The casual laughter and general good cheer of these trucker thugs as they bemusedly cheer "Yukal Torrg" along on his boss-murdering mission is really charming. What a good-natured crew of world dominating gangsters.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men dressed as The Shadow who are currently aiming a high powered rifle at The Shadow about to blow The Shadow's brains out? Not The Shadow, that's for sure!
So let me get this straight... the only thing keeping Shiwan Khan from killing Torrg is Torrg's job dressing up like The Shadow and trying to kill Shiwan Khan. These two have a really weird co-dependent relationship.
When about to ram a hydrofoil full of explosives into an atomic submarine, remember to always stop first and change into your normal clothes which you happened to be carrying around with you wherever you go. Or maybe this is mind-clouding hallucination stuff again and he's in the Speedo? It'll help with the swimming, that's for sure.
How dare a Code-approved comic promote businesses that profit from alcoholism and degradation with their cleverly inserted mentions of "bar rooms?" And I forget, in this continuity does Margo Lane not know The Shadow and Lamont Cranston are one and the same? I guess we'll have to wait for "Into The Shadowverse" to find out.
And as The Shadow and Margo Lane, Friend And Companion, zoom off through the cloud of radioactive debris left by the explosion of the nuclear submarine, we bid farewell to this ruthless antagonist of the underworld and particularly this profoundly inept super-hero incarnation. Stay in the shadows, Shadow.
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