Despite having read this comic before, I did not heed Mag the Hag and was surprised when the last story in the anthology really is a straight Greek tragedy. The comic opens with Mag the Hag introducing herself—she’s Shadows’s Crypt-Keeper—and then going on at length about the contents of the issue, including the story of Denaeus.
What stands out about Denaeus’s story is how differently creator Richard Corben plots a chapter versus a stand-alone. The other three stories are all done-in-ones horror stories; Denaeus is an epic; it’s Corben with more time to play. He has a great time with it, including a lot of humor, which would be out of place in the other stories.
The first story is about a traveling puppet show and the incredible life-like puppets. Two little boys get curious about the puppeteer’s secret, especially after hearing strange noises from the wagon.
It’s a somewhat obvious story with beautiful art from Corben. Whether it’s the reaction shots on the little boys, the way the action unfolds, or the haunting inhumanity, Corben does it all. It’s a great start to the comic.
The second story is about a couple emergency landing on an island. It reads rather quickly but features some more incredible art.
Corben’s style changes are a little different in the third story. He’s got his rounded, deep style, and then he’s got his inky style. The third story is inky. Well, some of it. He’s got a little bit of the rounded but mostly inky.
This farmer beats his wife one time too many, so she poisons him. Only he doesn’t die. Or maybe he does die. Either way, he’s still walking and talking. The story tracks the events from a distance as neighbors wonder what’s happening. It’s got one hell of a money shot, which Corben drags out magnificently. In the first and second stories, he’s not coy; in the third story, cards are close to the chest.
Then the Greek tragedy for fourth and the issue. The aforementioned humor comes both in dialogue and sight gags. But it’s still straight Ancient Greece stuff—Denaeus is a strong man and potential Royal Guard officer; he’s a great angle of entry for telling the story.
Plus, there are some potentially interesting plotting decisions; while the first three stories are all about Corben’s control, the Ancient Greece one is where he’s got room to let loose. Presumably. Hopefully.
I can’t wait to see what’s next in Shadows.