The Shadow #5: The Wrath of Allard

He knows what lurks in the hearts of men, and he's saddled with a man with nothing lurking in his mind.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

The Shadow #5

Hell broke loose for Lamont Cranston, his companion Margo Lane, their idiot American handler Finnegan and their crew in the last issue of The Shadow, where the nefarious Kondo baited Finnegan into blundering into his mine trap. The Shadow #5 opens with Kondo's troops murdering Finnegan's men as they swim frantically through the wreckage of their ship in the futile hope of survival. Kondo's dispassion while executing these soldiers ruthlessly is one more reason we want this fucker dead.

When Cranston, Lane and Finnegan emerge from the debacle as the sole survivors, Cranston wonders aloud why Lane bothered to save Finnegan from the waters. As they travel on mule-back to try and catch up with Kondo and his secret dealings with the stinkbag Buffalo Wong, Finnegan muses cluelessly about how allt he tragedy and disaster that has befallen them isn't at all like what he expected. "I thought it'd be more of an adventure, really. You know, more… rip-roaring." Like his own dashed ideas are his biggest concern. The look of disgusted hatred on Lane's face when he blurts that out makes us kind of want Finnegan dead, too. Up until now, he's been the dopey American who doesn't understand or like Cranston's amusingly droll style of high-minded wit and manipulation, and a fun foil for his barbs. One supposes he means well, which is likely why Cranston hasn't killed him yet, but he's so pig-headed and simple-minded that he needs to be suplexed or something.

That's Garth Ennis, war history aficionado and writer of The Shadow, illustrating the general impression of ill-informed American attitudes throughout the last century when it comes to warfare and foreign policy in general. It's his wheelhouse, alongside the righteous visceral vengeance of comic book justice – which starts to pick up in this issue. The trio tracks down Kondo and Wong, while Lane distracts Finnegan enough for Cranston to take to the shadows as The Shadow, infiltrating the camp to learn the dirty secrets, and then making his move right when Kondo is officially double-crossing Wong. Kondo doesn't get his quite yet (although he does learn that Wong cheated him as well), but Wong squares off against the masked man he nonetheless recognizes as Kent Allard, the legend of whom we heard about in the prior issue. The Shadow is dropping the hammer.

Ennis stories, when he's not going overboard and being bombastic, are always good, involving reads, with well-shaped villains and a lot of compelling historical context. The man is a student of the world. Aaron Campbell's artwork succeeds here, as his gritty style works well with the deep shadows of this night-time action, although there's something indistinct about his faces my sensibilities tend to disagree with. However, it was less of an issue here, as he did well in bringing across their necessary expressions here.

The Shadow #5. It's Ennis writing tales of bloody comeuppance. That's always worth a read.