One of my favourite ever creators is Howard Chaykin who’s had a career in comics nearly as long as I’ve been alive, with American Flagg! being probably the best science fiction comic I’ve read, not to mention being one of the best comics of any genre published in the 1980’s.
The 1980’s was a time when American comics grew up and proved to a mainstream audience that they offered more than superheroes, with comics like Watchmen, Maus and the Dark Knight Returns being constantly referenced as examples right up til today. One comic lost from most retrospectives of how comics changed in the 1980’s is Howard Chaykin’s original 4-issue mini series featuring The Shadow which was updated from it’s 1930’s setting to a 1980’s setting, and still remains one of the most gloriously fun bits of pulp violence ever published. Fans of The Shadow hated it but people like myself loved the look of it not to mention Chaykin’s astonishing layouts and designs.
Now Chaykin is back for a new series featuring The Shadow from Dynamite called The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow, and it’s an interesting read if you like a bit of shameless nostalgia like I do. In this he takes The Shadow into the late 1940’s in a post-war world just coming out of the Second World War and just before The Cold War kicked in fully. It starts as I assume the series means to continue, with The Shadow doing what the Shadow does which is an excuse to show that Chaykin has only upgraded his work from 1987.
The plot revolves round miniaturising gold ingots…….
This is the root in which Chaykin tells a story that leaps from New York to London and it involves knowing a lot not only about post war British and American history, but the history of the Shadow, not to mention his companions. It’s not a comic for casual readers or people expecting a bit of the old ultraviolence but it is a slow burn as Chaykin introduces a lot of characters in a short period of time, but tries to make the Shadow/Lamon Cranston seem sympathetic. It doesn’t quite work but this is the first issue and there’s more to come.
As for the art it’s simply beautiful. Chaykin’s art remains a constant joy with it’s crisp lines and splendid storytelling, it’s just a pity it’s such an average script. This said, I’ll be back for #2…..