Friday, October 12, 2007

The Shadow... Mighty Dorky Avenger!

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Yeah, I'm familiar. Crazy gun-toting motherfucker in a trench coat and a pimp hat, has an Adrien Brody-sized schnoz poking out over a red scarf...?

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...The hell--? Who's this loser? And why is he striking that pose Storm Boy took when he found out Gadfly Lad had used "his" hazelnut-flavored coffee creamer that he had paid for himself and that "nobody else is supposed to touch because [he] put [his] name on it and everything." And then Gadfly Lad demanded to see a receipt, and then things really turned ugly. There was a savage, unforgiving slap-fight, during which Storm Boy tried to yank the flying harness he'd designed off of Gadfly Lad's back. Gadfly Lad shrunk down and pelted Storm Boy with paperclips and push-pins, while Storm Boy took after him with a fly swatter. (No lightning allowed indoors... office policy.) Finally, Eyeful Ethel ventured out of her office (a rare favor) and made them break it up; the noise was interrupting her conference call with her press agent and a commemorative bobblehead manufacturer.

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Well, you'll save them, anyway. Thirty years later, you'll find them in the attic of your stepfather's house after the old man finally kicks it, and you'll be filled with a peculiar sense of shame. And when your son asks you why you're crying, you won't be able to tell him why, and you will see his face go pale as the last remaining shreds of respect he had for you flicker out...

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Ah, yes... Shiwan Khan, attired in his customary Dockers, windbreaker, and kicky little scarf. Is he plotting to rule the world or knock over a liquor store?

?--And why is the punctuation suddenly Spanish-flavored, kind-of??

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Oh, c'mon! Just call it "the Danger Room" and get it over with. Still, they've managed to tackle one problem I had with the old version of the Shadow: he didn't say "razz-matazz" enough. (He's going to stop that lion with a Bob Fosse routine! Might I suggest "Steam Heat"?)

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Thrill as the Shadow battles such fearsome adversaries as the Fetching Little Pillbox Hat Robot... the Viking Porn Star... and the Asymmetrically Booted Nazi!

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Yeah, this comic ain't "selling out." Although the owners of the "Shadow" license sure as hell did.

("Whamo"? ...I gotta lie down now. I don't feel so good.)

20 comments:

Dave said...

I am honestly curious why comics people just don't seem to get The Shadow. I can think of at least two other revamps that similarly struck out by adding hideously inappropriate crap to be modern and cool, like having him drive around in a green-and-black futuristic "concept car" or that head transplant incident.

The best theory I can come up with is that the radio plays were anti-visual -- the stories wouldn't make very much sense if you could see what's going on. My own recollections are that the script-writers got away with some amazingly sloppy story-telling using the Shadow's "power to cloud mens' minds".

Anonymous said...

I have to admit a certain guilty pleasure in seeing "reimaginings" like this. It's completely understandable, in its way. After the Depression ends, being a Pulp-style vigilante is a pretty tough gig!

So you (Archie) get the license for one of these guys cheap. And the book flops, because kids don't really find blazing guns to be very entertaining. So what do you do? You hire Jerry Siegel--yes, Jerry Siegel--to revamp the character.

OK, it's not the creepy guy from the radio show. It's still a certain kind of fun.

Fair is fair, though. Did anybody ever see the stuff Street and Smith put Doc Savage through in their comics? Yeesh!

Of course, turning Shiwan Khan into Jack Horkheimer? Maybe that was a bit over the top.

Scipio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scipio said...

Did the Archie people do that?

I was going to say that they should be forbidden from hero books by law.

By why do that, when simply supply and demand will take care of it?

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Stiil, I'd rather read that comic than watch that awful Alec Baldwin movie again.

Chawunky said...

Steam Heat is as nothing to The Way of the Intercepting Jazz Hand.

Blockade Boy said...

Dave: Personally, I enjoyed the Helfer/Baker Shadow... up until that goofball severed head storyline made it go off the rails, taking down the quality of Baker's artwork with it. But "The Seven Deadly Finns" storyline will always be one of my favorites. But yeah, it's a very atmospheric concept, and Archie Comics weren't the place people went for "atmosphere."

Anonymous: Jack Horkheimer--! BWAH! I haven't thought of that mincing, nasal-voiced "star hustler" for years! Who could forget his mnemonic for remembering the correct pronunciation of "Halley's Comet"? ("I met Sally in the alley to watch for Comet Halley!") I wish I could forget it!

Scipio: Yup, this is an ad from Archie's "Fly Man" #31, May 1965.

Jon: Too true.

Chawunky: True, but it'll flatten even the most accomplished kick line boxer.

Stephen Rader said...

You, Sir, are a comedic genius!

What a Shadow, huh? Nothing says "Mighty Dark Avenger" like a costume of teal blue and pea soup green.

Oh, and should "Steam Heat" fail to "razz-matazz," may I suggest the third section of "The Rich Man's Frug." It's always served me well.

Gyuss Baaltar said...

I gotta say, when I play the new Batman clix, I like to think his crazy stealth power lets me pretend he;s the shadow

I've got a bunch of the radio shows on tape and they are awesomeness. re-imagining it with the crazy costume makes me cry a little

Scipio said...

"Stiil, I'd rather read that comic than watch that awful Alec Baldwin movie again."

Actually, it's an AMAZING movie. But only if you watch it on "mute".

byrneward said...

Can't imagine why the Half-cowl-with-Vacuform-Ear-Cozy never caught on.

Chance said...

Also, True Fact: Up until very recently, animals in comics always looked completely wrong. Check out that lion's pig nose.

Kon-El said...

yeah when I imagined the Shadow I al;ways saw lots and lots of green, and blue, on a dude who looks a like Bruce Wayne on Crack

Anonymous said...

That lion's going to kill whoever put lipstick on it.

Blockade Boy said...

Stephen: Thanks! And I'll take your musical suggestion under advisement for the next time I get in a knock-down, drag-out fight (with a choreographer).

Gyuss: Wow. Now, I'm depressed!

Scipio: It agree that it's a good-looking film, anyway.

Byrneward: Vacumform Ear Cozy opened for my new band, Jagged Edge Explosion Balloon!

Chance: Heh. That's a great point! This artist is like a Bizarro Greg Land... he photo-references nothing!

Kon-El: But just think how he'd look in that outfit, plus the hat!

Anonymous: Darn those cosmetics companies, testing their products on animals!

MaGnUs said...

Man, Assimetrically Booted Nazi would have made my day if I wrote my column back then (and if I had been alive).

The Fortress Keeper said...

Now that I've seen it, I can't un-see it!!!!

Although I have to admit I kinda liked the Shadow Robot at the end of the Helfer Baker era!

Accursed and embittered Interloper said...

Curse you, Blockade Boy, for reawakening this memory! Note to kids in the mid-1960s, if you catch the measles and are too laid up to do your own shopping and your mom volunteers to pick you up a comic-book from the drugstore, DON'T EVEN BOTHER asking for the current issue of Justice League, because she'll bring you THIS CRAP instead! Probably on purpose, just to undermine your love of comics!
The Shadow, feh! This was the first comic I ever gave away to the neighbor kid, and didn't even ask for a trade.
Oh and speaking of travesties, did that head-transplant thing, 30 years later, have ANY purpose other than enraging the Kaluta/O'Neil/Chaykin fans? If so, what tee eff could it have been?

Blockade Boy said...

To quote the Spider, "ULP!"

I didn't realize this post would cause so much trauma. My apologies.

I don't know why, but a lot of moms were strangely attracted to Archie, Harvey, or worst of all, those Charlton comics, which would explode into a cloud of sawdust and ink powder the second you touched them.

As for the head-transplant... I dunno. Baker's famous trouble meeting deadlines started around then, so maybe he and Helfer were actually trying to get the book canceled.

Accursed but fair Interloper said...

"Baker's famous trouble meeting deadlines started around then, so maybe he and Helfer were actually trying to get the book canceled."

Baker has earned himself an eternity in Purgatory, reading comics picked out for him by My Mom.