I was never one of the cool kids growing up. When my classmates were enthralled by “Mighty Morphing Power Rangers”, I was busy re-watching the Alec Baldwin film, “The Shadow.” I’d hum the Jerry Goldsmith theme and I’d wear my mail-order “Shadow Agent Ring” by Kenner daily. I may have been weird, but I had a healthy lineup of comic books that I could escape too. While most kids would follow the adventures of Batman, I was inheriting the love of the great pulp characters from my grandfather. “The Shadow” was one of my favorites, and I enjoyed running around pretending to be him. I had some of the early 90’s comics, but it wasn’t until Dynamite that I was regularly able to start following his exploits. Dynamite has published an interesting lineup worthy of attention and the crime-fighting vigilante from the 1930’s pulp magazines and radio serials is now at the forefront. In stores this Wednesday is the final issue in “The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow.” Written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin, the sixth issue is a tale that would have certainly been read and enjoyed in my adolescence. And a worthy reminder that while I may not have been one of the cool kids, I was certainly ahead of my classmates with one of the most exciting of super-heroes.
Chaykin’s sixth issue of “Midnight in Moscow” opens to a snowy night. Inside The Kremlin is “the little man responsible for terror over twenty years”, Josef Stalin. He’s reading Ernest Hemingway while he plots a horrifying end to one of his general’s. He’s suddenly interrupted by a “suicidal madman” we know as The Shadow! The Shadow kills two of Stalin’s guards with an atomic device stored inside a miniature case in tow. Stalin tells him of a dommsday plot that will unleash the third atomic bomb on New York City. Having made arrangements with Hitler, an unknown woman will serve as a suicide bomber and detonate on American soil. The Shadow, a man of justice, will not let this happen. While against Stalin, he saves him and Moscow from the threat of an atomic bomb.
Elsewhere, the suicide bomber is at Heathrow, making her way from London to New York City. It is here that she reveals that New York is “a town they ought to just wipe off the map and start from scratch.” While she is making her way to the Big Apple, The Shadow a.k.a. Lamont Cranston is with Konstantin Bulgakov, the comrade possessing the bomb. Bulgakov reveals that Stalin in dying and does not care if the bomb were to detonate in Russia. Lamont declares “Stalin is certifiable” for only moments later to hear one of his agents, Margo Lane to declare him “insane [and]certifiable.” The Shadow is planning on installing himself in a soviet missile that will launch to New York City. It’s a voyage that will get him to the city at supersonic speed to stop the suicide bombers. Despite the plan being “insane”, The Shadow is looking forward to the experience despite the fact that his life is now in the hands of Stalin. Using his abilities to cloud men’s minds, he tricks those watching the missile into believing it nothing more than a flock of snow geese. Does The Shadow save the day? Does Chaykin’s final story take an unexpected turn? Is this the end of our vigilante as we know it? For that, you’ll have to pick up “The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow” issue #6.
The Shadow is a great character that I wish more comic-book fans were reading. After finishing the book for a second time, I’m excited about the next direction the Dynamite Comics series is heading and am still a proud fan of The Spirit after all these years.
“The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow” issue #6 gets four out of five stars.