Howard Chaykin’s reboot of The Shadow for DC Comics back in 1987 tends to be overshadowed (Get it?) by other stuff around the same time period, including The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and Chaykin’s own American Flagg! and Black Kiss. Partially because all those books are so damn good, and partically because DC lost the Shadow license a long while ago, preventing the book from staying in print. Turns out that maybe the Conde Nast guys who own the character didn’t think there was a long-term future in letting Chaykin’s successor, Andy Helfer, graft The Shadow’s head onto a robot… although in retrospect, it was probably a more realistic take on the character than Alec Baldwin.
But Chaykin’s original miniseries, Blood & Judgment, is some of the best comics from the 1980s that you could find. Excellent art with a logical and interesting way of bringing Lamont Cranston from the 30s to the 80s… although it felt more like the 70s what with the way Chaykin wrote Cranston as banging anything that walked, moved or crawled in a skirt, usually without even bothering to check for an adam’s apple first. Plus, the book contained splash pages that you could put against anything from Dark Knight you, if you’re anything like me, xeroxed and tacked to your wall in high school.
Yup, the best you could find… but you’d never be able to find it. In pulling the license from the Helfer issues, Conde Nast also pulled the rights for DC to reprint the Chaykin miniseries. So it’s been out of print for damn near 20 years. Which was never an issue for me, because fuck you Jack; I got mine… but now it’s not an issue for you. Dynamite Comics recently got the Shadow license, and they’ve also picked up the rights to reprint Blood & Judgment.
Which means you’re set to read some of the better comics you’ve never had access to… although based on the reaction to the news, you might have to fight some pretty high-toned comic creators to get your copy when the book drops in April. Here’s the press release, with all its included comic creator jizzing:
THE SHADOW: BLOOD & JUDGMENT TPB, COLLECTED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER 20 YEARS!!!
HOWARD CHAYKIN’S MASTERPIECE WILL BE BACK IN PRINT!
January 13th, 2011, Runnemede, NJ – Written and illustrated by legendary and award-winning comic book creator Howard Chaykin, The Shadow: Blood & Judgment TPB is collected for the first time since 1991!!! Chaykin’s dynamic, visceral style added a new dimension to The Shadow of the 1980’s!
The laugh had vanished…the mocking, sinister laugh that signaled doom for the petty souls whose wrongdoing stained the world. It was gone, lost in the night that echoed it. Now, one by one, his friends and operatives are being ruthlessly murdered. Someone is trying to draw him out. Thirty-five years later, it is time for him to return. The laugh is here again.
“THE SHADOW: BLOOD AND JUDGMENT was the first job I produced after moving to California–a new state, a new studio and a new lifestyle,” says acclaimed writer/artist Howard Chaykin. “I loved doing this book, and learned an awful lot about what it took to revive and recreate moribund characters in the process.”
“I can’t begin to describe how important Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow: Blood and Judgment was to me,” states Dynamite Entertainment President and Publisher Nick Barrucci. “In the 80’s, it helped change the face of comics. It is a privilege that Dynamite is able to put one of the finest comics ever created back in print!
The Shadow is back. God help the guilty. Be sure to get The Shadow: Blood & Judgment TPB in April 2012!
Here’s what the comic industries have to say about Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow: Blood & Judgment!”Not since Walter Gibson has anyone been better suited to The Shadow than Howard Chaykin.”
– Mark Waid
“This is my all-time favorite Howard Chaykin comic book. This is him at the tip-tip-top of his game and, yeah I’ll say it, the best Shadow story ever published!”
– Brian Michael Bendis
“IT’S TIME TO GET OFFENDED AGAIN. Welcome back, Mr. Cranston. Welcome back, Mr. Chaykin… we need you both now more than ever. Who knew that underneath all the cocaine, black marble, and rayon that the Eighties had a heart of pulp? As always, Chaykin — and the Shadow — knows…”
“Chaykin at his ballsiest and most dynamic. This is how the Shadow should be done.”
– Jason Aaron
“Chaykin’s Shadow is a modern legend at his best.”
– Rick Remender
“Sharply written, uber-stylish and dead sexy. Yes, Chaykin made The Shadow sexy!”
– John Cassaday
“Howard Chaykin was one of the few who dared to make mainstream comics different back in the eighties; it was guys like him, Alan Moore and Frank Miller who made sure there’d be no going back. Howard’s work on The Shadow is amongst his very best: razor-sharp character work, sizzling dialogue and an unsurpassed sense of layout and design.”
– Garth Ennis
“The reintroduction of The Shadow in the 1980s in Howard Chaykin’s mini-series was one of the most striking comics of the era. A bold, violent, and modern vision combined with the original caped hero archetype captivated me as a reader.”
– Alex Ross
“A comically insolent and graphically innovative re-invention of the grandfather of the superhero.”
“There are many reasons to consider Howard Chaykin a comic visionary. This is one of them.”
– Brian Azzarello
“The iconic 80s miniseries is back. Some creators use noir themes and images as though they’re throwing them into a shopping basket. Chaykin makes them look as though they didn’t even exist until he came along.”
– Mike Carey
“Who knows how to write and draw great suspense, action, and characters that literally pop off the page? THE CHAYKIN KNOWS — HAHAHAHAHA!!!”
– Peter J. Tomasi
“Sex, money, intrigue, betrayal, revenge. This is Chaykin. Try to keep up.”
– Andy Diggle
“Bloody, brutal, vital and violent, with a striking sense of energy and a huge amount of style on every kinetic page. Howard Chaykin transference of The Shadow from its pulp roots to the comic book gold rush era of 1987 is a gem. It’s good to see it back in print.”
– Rob Williams
“My favorite comic growing up in the eighties was THE SHADOW. Howard Chaykin’s Shadow was a breath of fresh air to me and I gobbled up every frame of that miniseries. Chaykin didn’t go onto the regular series when it launched, leaving me to look around for other comics Chaykin had done.”
The Shadow is a collection of serialized dramas, originally in pulp magazines, then on 1930s radio and then in a wide variety of media, that follow the exploits of the title character, a crime-fighting vigilante in the pulps, which carried over to the airwaves as a “wealthy, young man about town” with psychic powers. One of the most famous pulp heroes of the 20th century, The Shadow has been featured in comic books, comic strips, television, video games, and at least five motion pictures.
Howard Chaykin began working for Marvel Comics in the early 1970s drawing-one off stories for publications such as Marvel Spotlight. He created a short-lived sword and sorcery title, Ironwolf. In 1976, Chaykin landed the job of drawing the Marvel Comics adaptation of Star Wars that proved a great success and also got him work doing illustrations for the numerous tie-in projects. Chaykin produced a number of projects for the Heavy Metal and Star Reach anthology magazines including the space opera hero Cody Starbuck that revealed an interest in sexually explicit material as well as graphic violence.
In 1982 Chaykin launched American Flagg! for First Comics, writing and drawing the first twelve issues exclusively. The series was a massive critical and popular success, winning a number of awards. In 1985 Chaykin also wrote and drew a re-launch of The Shadow for DC Comics and produced Time2, a quasi-spin-off to American Flagg! that allowed him to indulge his love of Jazz and New York. The mini-series based on Blackhawk of 1987 was another chance to indulge in the 1930s mileu as as provide a witty recasting of a defunct DC character.
Some of Chaykin’s recent comics work includes: the graphic novel Mighty Love, the mini-series Challengers of the Unknown and City of Tomorrow, as well as a one-off issue of Solo, all published by DC Comics. Chaykin has also been active in television since the 1980s, acting as Executive Script Consultant for The Flash and Viper, and has most recently acted as head writer on Mutant X.
Howard had recently written and illustrated The Avengers: 1959 for Marvel!
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(Splash page art via Comics Alliance)