Book Review: The Shade

I started reading comic books in the 90s, and I was a Marvel fan. Needless to say, I can usually follow a pointlessly convoluted plot. At least, I thought I could until I picked up this title on a lark during a graphic fiction binge on Amazon a few weeks back. The Shade is a rare breed of stupid. It is one of those titles that manages to be overly vague, yet incredibly convoluted at the same time. Characters are introduced as if they are pivotal to the story and then never seen again. The main objective of the protagonist’s journey is ignored through three quarters of the book, and the plot makes absolutely no sense until it is explained in great, yet still somehow lacking, detail by one of the antagonists near the very end. On the whole, The Shade is less a coherent story and more the inane ramblings of a Gen Xer with the attention span of goldfish. The arbitrary side journeys, the poorly introduced and seemingly irrelevant flashback sequences, as well as the completely underwhelming origin story make this one a real chore to get through. This isn’t helped by the fact that The Shade himself is a completely insufferable character. Combine the idiocy of Hal Jordan, the long winded soliloquizing of John Galt, and a health dose of Victorian pretension, and you have Richard Swift. If there is one positive thing I can say about it, it is that the artwork in some of the later chapters is very good and calls to mind the visual style of Neil Gaiman’s vastly better written The Books of Magic miniseries. Actually, there is one other good thing to take away from this book, fair tower denizens. It inspired this quick “review” (read: rant), so you got to hear a 30-year-old geek gripe about comics.

score: 3/10

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