The Shade – A review

I don’t commonly review comics anymore.  I rarely review a mini-series after two issues.  But here is the thing.  I am hearing rumours that The Shade is in danger of being cancelled.

The Shade is good.  Scheduled as a 12 issues series, I affirm that it will be good for all 12 issues.

Issue #3 comes out tomorrow.  Y’all should go out, but the issue.  But #1 and #2 if you can.  Cause a sell-through and force re-orders.  This will not be a charitable event.  You should also be donating to charities.  This will be something else.  A little present to yourself.  Obviously there aren’t enough people enjoying it now.

The Shade is the second series starring the debonair villain of the same name.  It is written by James Robinson and has art by Cully Hamner.  For those of you new to comics, The Shade was a supporting character in the Robinson helmed series Starman in the 90s.  The climax of that series, a tale called The Grand Guignol, was essentially a big Shade story.

Since then The Shade has played bit parts in a couple titles.  Mostly he has sat in his apartment in Opal City drinking tea, wearing dark glasses and reminiscing about his 150 years of adventures.  Shade’s life of villainy is long past.  Even his little outings to taunt his old foes – The Flash especially – are a thing of the past.  Heck, he is dating a police officer.

Start the series – and start it with a bang – a gunfight on the streets of Germany.  And the Shade gets drawn in.

You could read the series only for the writing.  James Robinson is showing the chops that made people like The Golden Age and Starman.  It is an intriguing mix of high octane action, mystery and the Shade’s unique approach to problem solving.  Robinson has been back writing in the DCU for a few years now and this is the strongest his writing has been in that time.  The series doesn’t feel like Starman.  It doesn’t feel like the first Shade mini-series.  But it has that magic.

You could read the series only for the art.  Cully Hamner – I don’t understand why this fellow isn’t a star.  There are only a few mainstream comic artists working in a cartoony style.  Marcos Martin, Amanda Conner, and Cully Hamner are all at the top of that list for me.  It is clear.  It is energetic.  It is pretty.  It is awesome.  In five years, things Hamner touches turn into hits.  Red was turned into a major motion-picture.  The Blue Beetle became a hit on the animated series using his designs.

But you should be reading for the combination.  Comics are collaborative and this one works.  It works well.  Not like clockwork – it works like a relationship.

And the story isn’t half-bad either.



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