Matt Wagner concludes what has been an epic mini-series pitting the criminal mastermind of Grendel versus The Shadow’s crusade for justice. How will it end? Is it good?
Grendel vs. The Shadow #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
The book jumps right in where Wagner left us, putting The Shadow in an extremely vulnerable position. However, the tables turn quickly and Wagner provides not only excellent dialogue between the two foes, but also draws them as equals as they face off against each other. These two are an excellent match.
Wagner not only continues to have these two impressive characters match their physical prowess and wits against each other, but he also delves into their personal lives. Cranston’s relationship with Margo Lane is pushed to the edge while Hunter Rose explores the finer things Sofia Valenti has to offer. Wagner creates an amazing contrast in how Cranston and Rose interact with the women in their lives. Cranston is distant and thoughtful while Rose is overcome with emotion and passion.
Wagner also harkens back to the origins of The Shadow. There is an excellent sequence where The Shadow has created his own pirate radio station to take over the airwaves to preach about the evils of men such as Grendel. Not only is it a nice throwback to The Shadow’s origins, but the panels on the page are placed for maximum effect. The majority of the page depicts The Shadow speaking into a microphone with two inset panels. The first is a broadcast tower sending his message to the city, while the second is a radio relaying his message. The artwork clearly depicts the effect he is having on the city and that his message of justice is reaching his audience!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how good Wagner’s artwork is. The action sequences are gripping and there are two quite stunning panels of The Shadow, one a full pager as he crashes through a window with guns blazing! The artwork is highlighted with Michael Heisler’s superb Shadow laugh as it snakes its way across the page. Every Shadow book should be equipped with this laugh; it conjures up the sound heard from the old radio program.
If you thought you knew where the book was heading with another epic clash between Grendel and The Shadow you will not be disappointed. Yet, Wagner introduces a massive twist catching you off guard, but relishing the moment even more.
Last but not least, Brennan Wagner’s colors really highlight his father’s artwork, from the light reflecting off the broken glass as The Shadow swoops into the building to the collage of dark oranges and yellows in the background highlighting the element of danger and stirring up the image of a house on fire. He does an excellent job of highlighting the emotions with his choice of colors.
Is It Good?
This book is an excellent ending to a very well-done mini-series. Matt Wagner’s story pushes both Grendel and The Shadow to their limits. Furthermore, there is added depth including a surprise twist and an excellent compare and contrast on how each interacts with the women in their lives. His artwork is top-notch, with on the edge of your seat action sequences and great panel placement. Highlighting the artwork is Brennan Wagner’s beautiful colors, bringing out the emotion of the characters.