Writer’s Commentary – Dan Watters Talks The Shadow #2

Posted by September 13, 2017 Comment

We have a new writer’s commentary from Dynamite today. This one features Dan Watters talking about The Shadow #2 that he’s co-writing with Si Spurrier. Cover by Tyler Kirkham and interiors by Daniel HDR.

The Shadow

PAGE 1:
As Si mentioned in the commentary for issue 1, I actually came on board with this issue, so this page was the first I ever wrote for the title. So I guess that makes this a little bit a statement of intent. If, as Si has stated before, the Shadow is the shark of superheroes: ruthless and perfectly formed, never needing to evolve to remain functional. I think that the laugh — that laugh — is like the great white’s dorsal fin breaching the surface. You know it’s coming. And there’s probably very little you can do about it.

The eight panel grid was established in issue 1, and we’re sticking with it for the duration of the run. Claustrophobic, tight, and pulpy. Daniel HDR handles it magnificently.PAGES 2-3:
And here’s that great white striking. With this book, we definitely didn’t want to stylize the violence all that much; the Shadow isn’t about backflips and spin-kicks — instead, he’s going to throw burning coals into your eyes.

The hypnotic Girasol ring makes an appearance. A very cool toy that comes with some pretty grizzly implications if you stop to think about it. I think it’s somewhat underused, so here it is. Not that the Shadow needs it to mess with your mind. As will become apparent. PAGE 4:
The Shadow here, terrorizing the elderly. In case you had any doubts as to how much we’re situating him in shades of grey, or how uncompromising he is in his pursuit of his own personal brand of justice. I love how Daniel and Natalia have construed the fire rising over the last two pages; it seemed a pretty apt way of raising urgency to set our title character literally on fire.PAGE 5:
It’s not actually made it onto the final page here, but the news station we’re seeing (and will see again) is “Bluecol News” — a bit of an Easter egg hearkening back to the Orson Wells years. The New York Classic newspaper is another historical Shadow entity — Clyde Burk, one of his agents, used to work there.

Myra Reldon, of course, is another of the Shadow’s agents. Or was. Who knows anymore? He’s been gone a long time.

Obvious political parallels to be drawn here. As Si said last issue, we won’t be shying away from conversing on things that need to be conversed about. This book is intended to have teeth. The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, so we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t try and dig to the dark heart of America ourselves.PAGE 6:
We’re back with Mary and Crispy, our main present-day characters for the arc. Our second hypnosis moment in the issue, too. Mind-control, suggestion and hypnosis are all major themes of our book. So it’s a good thing that Mary here specialized in it at college.

PAGES 7-8:
And we’re in flashback. The first of a number we’ll be using to see what the Shadow’s been up to throughout his illustrious history. I love the palette swap here; really captures the gritty, classic essence we were reaching for in the script.

Page 7 also includes our first instance of non-diegetic captioning in this book — I really wanted to invoke the radio era of the Shadow, voiceover et al, as our lens for the cruelties of the past.

In coming issues, this is where we’ll start breaking down our grid, too — but for now, we’re going to be keeping things generally coherent as we set up the foundations of our historical plot.

PAGE 9:
Freddy’s last name, Wyatt, should be familiar, if you’re paying attention, as that of the modern-day President. This family’s gonna go far. Hopefully they’re gonna get nicer. Wouldn’t hedge your bets on it, though.

PAGE 10:
Once again, the Shadow is seen from the perspective of others — even in his own flashback, we’re not giving him much POV. Our Shadow is intended to be just that — a shadow- intangible, shrouded and elusive. The way Daniel has him loom in out of the background in panel 1 here portrays this perfectly, I think. (OK granted, he’s intangible, shrouded, and elusive but also capable and willing to tear out your spine through your nostril, which admittedly most shadows can’t do.)

PAGE 11:
James Burnham is a real historical character, and actually a through thread for this story. He’ll be lurking in the background of our plot, though you may blink and miss him.

PAGE 12:
“The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.” I have the coolest job in the world.

I love the surprise in the Shadow’s eyes in panel 3. He is absolutely unprepared for any touch of tenderness, at least when he’s in this guise. It absolutely fractures the mask that he’s created for himself. One of my favorite moments this issue.

PAGE 13:
Leviathan. Bigger and scarier and limbier than last issue. For my money, one of the coolest visuals of the book courtesy of Daniel, and one of the coolest concepts of the book courtesy of Si. Leviathan roots the book in exactly the kind of eldritch Weird pulp that gets my motor running, while remaining an entirely grounded entity. All I’ll say for now is, Leviathan is real.

PAGES 14-15:
#HEKNOWS tagged on the wall there. The Shadow as meme. Definitely intertext happening here with another violent comics vigilante with a similar silhouette who took the internet by storm, and not just in how we’re using tight, compressed pacing.

Also, the introduction of Luisa, Mary’s sister, who for my money gets some of the best lines of the book.

PAGES 16-17:
Introducing whoknows.com. An interesting statement on how a symbol can be utilized by multiple sides of a debate, and how everyone sees themselves as the underdog. Also, the internet is a terrifying place. If we’re digging into America’s heart of darkness, this site is pretty much intended to be the internet’s very own. “The horror” etc, but with more sh*tposting.

PAGES 18-20:
Myra Reldon. Worthy Delaney. More chess pieces on the board, and branches swaying into the past from the present, lightly brushing together at this point. Full credit to Si for crafting this intricate narrative (he calls them “fiddly”, I call them… actual plots…) for setting up these pins for us to knock down with gusto.

Next month: The shadows grow ever longer, and Leviathan turns. Hope you’ll stick around.

(Last Updated September 13, 2017 11:52 am )

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.

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