The Shade (2011 Series) #3
Writer: James Robinson
Art: Cully Hamner
Letters: Todd Klein
Colors: Dave McCaig
Cover Art: Tony Harris
Editor: Will Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
To seek the mysterious Darnell Caldecott, to help further define himself, the Shade has traveled to Austrailia. After a brief encounter with local hero the Argonaut, Shade meets up with his old rival Diablo Blacksmith to help him find Caldecott – a quest that will take him to the depths of the Dreamtime.
This series is going in some odd directions, but James Robinson is definitely using it to expand the DC Universe. We meet some new characters here, and while neither of them have a huge part, they could easily lay in wait until they’re picked up by other writers, or by Robinson himself. Even though the Argonaut appears to be a bit of a parody, that’s how Lobo started too.
The Dreamtime stuff, the battle we see there, is the real meat of the issue, however, and it delivers well. Simply from a visual standpoint, it’s cool to see the Shade using his shadow powers to make himself a legitimate threat to a character that, physically, is a hell of a lot bigger than he is. On a less dramatic scale, the character’s personal journey is really being reflected in the story. The other characters don’t know what to make of the Shade – someone who historically was thought of as a villain but, in the past few years (DC time, nearly 20 years in the real world) has acted as a hero sometimes, but usually occupies a much grayer area. Even the Shade doesn’t really know how to classify himself anymore, and that’s one of the things that makes his story so compelling.
Cully Hamner’s artwork is cool, and Dave McCaig’s colors are vital to making this story work. The action takes place in the Austrailian outback, in desert terrain, in broad daylight. It’s not the Shade’s natural habitat. But it looks very good on the page and the contrast helps the story in turn.
This series is delivering for me, and big-time.