At last we’re getting back into the swing of things. Maybe at some point I’ll even do something not comic book related. Until then, the journey continues!
When last we checked in on our plucky protagonists… things could be going better. The American vessel carrying Lamont Cranston, Margo Lane, and intelligence agent Finnegan has been blown to kindling by Kondo’s cunningly placed mines. The surviving marines left in the water are easy pickings for the Japanese soldiers and Chinese bandits aboard Buffalo Wong’s ship. As the massacre is brought to terrible completion, Cranston, Lane, and Finnegan manage to swim to the relative safety of shore. I saw relative because for all intents and purposes they are still deep behind enemy lines with little hope of rescue. Would we have it any other way though? Finnegan gets his first taste of bitter reality as he laments his disregard for the captain’s warnings of a trap. The dead marines in the water are the result of his hubris (though perhaps not his alone). He confesses that he imagined this would be more of a “rip-roaring” adventure, another oblique indictment of both the imperialistic attitudes of western exotica and the dime novel culture which helped disseminate these notions through the popular consciousness (of which The Shadow itself is ironically a part). Imperialism has many faces though, and the excesses of the Japanese Empire are nothing so much as its twisted carnival reflection. Kondo, General Saburo, and Wong at last arrive at Wong’s mercenary base, where a gang of beleaguered slaves is kept ready to mine the coveted radioactive minerals. Once the nefarious deal is agreed upon, the assembled commence in celebration. Away from the camp however, Cranston plans his next move. Like a whisper in the dark the Shadow infiltrates Kondo’s guard with frightening effectiveness (seriously, Batman and The Punisher only wish they were this terrifying). Stealing into the heart of Wong’s domain, the bandit king and the dark avenger confront one another at last. Wong immediately recognizes him as Kent Allard, which the Shadow simply responds is “an old name.” The reunion is short-lived though, as Wong attempts to outdraw his former associate and is promptly gunned down for his trouble. These shots arouse little suspicion from outside though, as Kondo’s men have turned on Wong’s and are executing the mercenaries, a double-cross seemingly planned from the beginning. In the morning though Kondo’s victory is hollow. The minerals Wong provided them were false, having kept their true location a secret just in case of such a betrayal. Now the Japanese have no leads left and their expedition was for nothing. Both Kondo and General Saburo will be disgraced, but Saburo intends to salvage their men’s dignity and, in his mind, redeem Kondo’s many transgressions. He berates the arrogant Kondo and tells the junior officer to bring him his sword. It is implied that Saburo intends to commit suicide in the act of seppuku.
All told I’m not sure if this issue is quite as strong as the couple before it, but that’s not to say it isn’t still incredibly enjoyable. There are little sticking points, like how Cranston just happens to have his Shadow regalia despite having only meager supplies otherwise, but they aren’t really that much to write home about. I’d say that if you like Garth Ennis, like Aaron Campbell, like The Shadow, like period stories, or just like adventure you don’t have to turn your brain off for, then you should really definitely pick this up. Honestly though, even if you don’t like any of those things you definitely will by the time you’re done reading. Grab this off the rack and find a comfy chair. Wherever it is, you’ll have the best seat in the house.