I know it will come as a great shock to you all when I tell you that I broke from the standards of professional decorum yesterday when I replied to a press release email with the word, "YES." That press release came from Dynamite Entertainment
, who wanted to let us know that they're releasing in April
a new collection
of Howard Chaykin's The Shadow: Blood and Judgment
. And I'm not alone in my elation. Read on to see some preview pages and read what creators like Matt Fraction
, Brian Bendis
, Jason Aaron
, Garth Ennis
, Warren Ellis
and more have to say about this most beloved work.
A sexy, violent and sophisticated reimagining of the classic pulp hero, Chaykin's Shadow
was throughout my childhood referenced alongside the '80s vanguard of Watchmen
, The Dark Knight Returns
and Mister X
. The nocturnal avenger was transplanted from the pulp period to then-modern day New York City, and his mystical components were replaced with gloriously '80s gear like Uzi machine guns and, being a vintage Chaykin comic, loads of sex and violence.
Originally published as a DC Comics miniseries in 1986, the popularity of Chaykin's The Shadow
miniseries would lead to an also well-regarded ongoing title written by the great Andy Helfer (who was Chaykin's editor) and drawn by such enduring talents as Kyle Baker, Bill Sienkiewicz and Marshall Rogers. Although this may be apocryphal, I've always understood that the Shadow's owner, Condé Nast, and hardcore pulp fiction fans objected strongly to the variously cyberpunky approach DC was taking with the character, and Helfer's series was infamously cancelled on a cliffhanger.
Those licensing issues are why Blood & Judgment
has remained out of print for 20 years.
As such, the return of this great work is great news indeed, as made plain by the number of auspicious names whose endorsements Dynamite included in the press release:
"This is my all-time favorite Howard Chaykin comic book. This is him at the tip-tip-top of his game and, yeah I'll say it, the best Shadow story ever published!"
- Brian Michael Bendis
"IT'S TIME TO GET OFFENDED AGAIN. Welcome back, Mr. Cranston. Welcome back, Mr. Chaykin... we need you both now more than ever. Who knew that underneath all the cocaine, black marble, and rayon that the Eighties had a heart of pulp? As always, Chaykin -- and the Shadow -- knows..."
"Chaykin at his ballsiest and most dynamic. This is how the Shadow should be done."
- Jason Aaron
"Chaykin's Shadow is a modern legend at his best."
- Rick Remender
"Sharply written, uber-stylish and dead sexy. Yes, Chaykin made The Shadow sexy!"
- John Cassaday
"Howard Chaykin was one of the few who dared to make mainstream comics different back in the eighties; it was guys like him, Alan Moore and Frank Miller who made sure there'd be no going back. Howard's work on The Shadow is amongst his very best: razor-sharp character work, sizzling dialogue and an unsurpassed sense of layout and design."
- Garth Ennis
"The reintroduction of The Shadow in the 1980s in Howard Chaykin's mini-series was one of the most striking comics of the era. A bold, violent, and modern vision combined with the original caped hero archetype captivated me as a reader."
- Alex Ross
"A comically insolent and graphically innovative re-invention of the grandfather of the superhero."
"There are many reasons to consider Howard Chaykin a comic visionary. This is one of them."
- Brian Azzarello
"The iconic 80s miniseries is back. Some creators use noir themes and images as though they're throwing them into a shopping basket. Chaykin makes them look as though they didn't even exist until he came along."
- Mike Carey
Dynamite presumably has the rights to reprint that Helfer material as well as Chaykin's work, and probably also the great Shadow 1988 graphic novel by Dennis O'Neil and Michael Kaluta and originally published by Marvel, and whatever other Shadow comics may exist.
Note: The following preview pages appear to be scanned out of the original published comics. It's safe to assume the actual reprint will be reproduced properly.