Sparks fly and bullets blaze when the original Grendel, Hunter Rose, is transported to 1930s New York and faces off with the original dark-night avenger, the Shadow! Two pulp-noir icons go head to head in this heart stopping story written and drawn by legendary Grendel creator Matt Wagner. This hardcover collects the 3 issue prestige format Grendel vs. Shadow series.
It’s always an adventure when we get to see two iconic characters go head to head like this. The setup is a little disappointing. Grendel reads a scroll that magically transports him back in time. I thought Wagner could have put a bit more effort into this, however he put the pages he saved with this trope, to good use in setting the stage for Grendel vs. The Shadow. In true Hunter Rose fashion, Grendel looks on the time travel as an opportunity rather than a curse, and before long, he assumes command of the most power collection of criminals in the city.
Matt Wagner also nails his portrayal of the Shadow. He’s dark, he’s driven, and he is every bit the terror of the underworld. The artist really brings the shadow alive as few have, making Lamont Cranston’s alter ego bigger and badder than we’ve ever seen him before. Long time fans are also treated to many of The Shadow’s mainstays like his tumultuous relationship with Margo, pirate radio and his immense network of helpers.
Hunter also gets a new girlfriend in the this series in the form of a Sophia Valenti, the daugher of one of the crime bosses he usurps. Here we get an interesting dichotomy between the two characters. Hunter Rose is passionate, and romantic falling under the sway of the sultry, enigmatic Sophia. He is tempted to love again. He is driven by deep and abiding emotions. The Shadow on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He is often indifferent to the winsome Margo, consumed by the evil he perceives, and the compulsion to eradicate it.
Despite his cavalier disregard for life, the reader is time and again, drawn to sympathizing with the nefarious Grendel, over the more altruistic Lamont Cranston. The Shadow, for all his virtue, is oblivious to the longings that make us human, whereas Grendel embodies them. The conflict between the characters is well crafted. When the opposites inevitably clash, the sparks are bright and intense. This collection is a must-have for any lover of noir fiction. The story is an instant classic, that makes the reader weep for how rare good writing like this is, in modern comics.
For more information regarding the Grendel vs The Shadow Hardcover, or other great titles from Dark Horse, visit Dark Horse Comics.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.