Review by Win Wiacek
In the early 1930s, the Shadow gave thrill-starved readers their measured doses of extraordinary excitement via cheaply produced pulp periodical novels, and over the mood-drenched airwaves, through his own radio show.
In eighteen years 325 novels were published, usually at the rate of two a month. The uncanny crusader spawned seven movies and all the merchandising paraphernalia you’d expect of a superstar brand. He also has history in newspaper strips and comics, although periodically in the latter.
Dynamite Entertainment picked up the option in 2011 and began a series of new Shadow comics. Set in the turbulent 1930s and war years that followed, these were crafted by some of the top writers in the industry, each taking their shot at the immortal legend, and all winningly depicted by a succession of extremely gifted illustrators.
This second volume follows The Fire of Creation, and comes courtesy of Victor Gischler again throwing a spotlight on the increasing deadly geopolitics of a civilisation sliding inexorably into a second World War. His scripts are largely well realised by Aaron Campbell, but with contributions from Jack Herbert and Giovanni Timpano, and the action opens with a self-contained prelude that begins with the Master of the Macabre suffering from uncharacteristic bad dreams.
Very few people know the black-cloaked fist of final retribution known as The Shadow masquerades by day as abrasive, indolent playboy Lamont Cranston. Agents in his employ are all aware of his semi-mystical abilities to detect thoughts and cloud the minds of men, but not that in the past few days those abilities have seemingly waned and led to the death of an innocent.
Engaging veteran Great War pilot Miles Crofton, Cranston embarks on a journey to the Himalayan region where he long ago studied under august adepts of the arcane. However, his voyage is interrupted in Nepal when he encounters a brutal bandit leader dubbed Red Raja. This thuggish crimelord seems to have powers and abilities similar and equal to his own.
The trip to Nepal is followed by stopovers in Paris, then to Spain during the Civil War, where Cranston meets an inoffensive British volunteer in the Socialist Brigade calling himself “George Orwell”. Various areas of Spain are explored, clues all the while leading to a bigger picture before this historically-flavoured jaunt concludes with one last hurrah as Miles and Cranston belatedly return to New York. It’s just in time for the Shadow to fixate on a gang of ruthless bank robbers terrorising the city with their bold and lethal raids. Now all that remains is to trigger the bloody end…
Sardonic, uncompromising and packed with subtle nuance, Revolution is a superb addition to the annals of the quintessential Dark Knight, and one no one addicted to action and mystery should be without.