Peering Into The Shadow: Year One

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

I know more of the Shadow than I know about the Shadow. I know the familiar catchphrase. I know he was a radio hero created in the 1930s and the star of pulp magazines. I know he was an influence on Batman’s creation. And I know he was played by Alec Baldwin in a not-very-well-respected movie.

Like Sandman Mystery Theatre, the Shadow inhabits a setting that I love: 1930s New York City. I knew vaguely there was a new Shadow comic series by Dynamite Entertainment but I wasn’t moved to pick up any issues until I saw the name of Matt Wagner on The Shadow: Year One. It seemed perfect, especially since Wagner was one of the creators of SMT.

The first two issues of the miniseries did not disappoint. As the cover promises, the story starts at the beginning, with Lamont Cranston’s return from a long sojourn overseas. We see very little of Cranston and are in the dark about where he’s been and why he’s come back.

Instead, the story is told by a nosy reporter straight out of The Front Page and through the eyes of Margo Lane, a socialite who has fallen into an affair with a notorious gangster.

Margo has her eyes open. She knew her boyfriend was dangerous, and she somewhat liked that, but she’s still surprised at his viciousness because she thought she had the upper hand.

The premise is refreshing because Margo isn’t the stereotypical damsel in distress but a woman of the world trying to escape a bad situation. The mysterious Shadow (of course) saves her from the mobster’s attempted murder and (of course) she’s intrigued.

It’s great old-school storytelling from a master, with art by Wilfredo Torres that perfects fits the atmosphere. I hope the rest of the miniseries is of the same quality.

Read more coverage of Comics & Graphic Novels at Criminal Element.

Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom Blog on ( and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.

Read all posts by Corrina Lawson for Criminal Element.


  1. Dorothy Hayes

    How can you not like somebody who dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane?
    Didn’t we all? (Actually, I did, I was a reporter-for a small metropolitan newspaper!)
    My two sisters and I would be thrilled out of our little heads listening to “The Shadow” on radio. Our imaginations ran wild and the radio program never disappointed. We’d lay across our parents bed, the three of us, in spellbinding enthusiasm, our heads pointed toward the foot of the bed and the radio in front of us and we were never disapointed in Lamont Cranston and the deep voice that asked, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

    • Jack Maverick

      I started reading reprints from Bantam of the Shadow novels when I was in the 8th grade. My history teacher, who had grown up listening to the radio programs, got a kick out of it when he saw my book, exclaiming, “Lamont Cranston! – Man about town!”
      I can’t believe that Walter Gibson wrote two novels every month, for years – that’s amazing.
      It’s too bad “The Shadow” movie bombed – I’d have loved it if it was successful and they did several of them. Bad casting with Baldwin and they were just too “cute” with it – should have kept it more serious.
      I’ve since listened to some of the original radio programs – One of my favorite parts is where they advertise, “BLUE Coal” 🙂

  2. James Devlin

    Very glad to see the Master of Darkness appear in a new form.

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