This is clearly going to be a slow-burn kind of series, but that suits me, and the story it’s telling, just fine. There are a lot of players, creating even more secrets, lies, and hidden agendas, so keeping the pace relatively slow helps everything and everyone stay clear. But, decompressed or not, this was a solid issue with a hell of a lot going for it. And, now fully introduced, Garth Ennis’ take on Lamont Cranston gets to be the guy calling the shots here, a role he was clearly born to play.
Cranston’s relationship with Margo Lane is the most compelling aspect of the issue, and possibly of the whole character. Even though he is blunt, forceful, and occasionally just plain nasty with her, he has a definite respect for her, too. He may not see her as an equal, because in his eyes nobody ever will be, but she’s close enough to be his ally. He is honest with her where he’s deceitful with everyone else, and more and more it seems like his hardness isn’t mean-spirited. It’s a tool he uses to keep her tough, prepared for whatever violence and horror they’re bound to face together. And he acts that way only because he knows she can handle it.
Compare Cranston’s conversation with her to the one he has with Finnegan, the man who’s meant to be in charge of him, and the height of his opinion for Miss Lane comes even more sharply into focus. He’s a wicked, manipulative son of a bitch, there is no doubt, but he may be just a smidge less wicked and manipulative when it comes to Margo Lane.
Aaron Campbell’s art continues to complement the hard-as-nails attitudes of the characters and narrative. But what stood out to me the most in The Shadow #3, as far as the art was concerned, were the dynamic page layouts Campbell employed once The Shadow showed up. It displays both the swiftness of his actions and the power behind them to have such a dramatic shift in the panel arrangement, as if he is literally capable of reshaping the world to his will when he dons his hat and cape. I’m not sure whether or not this is something Campbell has been doing all along, but he does a superior job of it here, regardless.
Ennis and Campbell jumped into The Shadow head first, and their version of the character has been spectacular thus far.