Story: David Avallone
Art: Ivan Rodriguez
What They Say:
Welcome to Altered States… Dynamite Entertainment’s parallel reality in the vein of DC’s Elseworlds and Marvel’s What If! The Shadow’s living soul is ripped out of time and space and transported to a violent dimension where his powers and abilities will be tested to the breaking point. The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, but there are worse things in the universe than man…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Though I haven’t read too much of The Shadow over the years, I do have an interest in the character and an affinity, for better or worse, with the live action film from the 90’s. The character is one that has a certain basic premise about it that can lead to some interesting stories to be told, and within the Altered State framework, at least from how it’s presented, plenty of areas to work with. With this standalone story, what we get is actually just the prologue of what should be the real story, which is unfortunate because so much of the book is easy to just gloss over, though it’s worth going back and just admiring the detail of the artwork and backgrounds. The Altered States premise is one I like, but still feels like it’s being worked wrong.
This special gives us The Shadow that we all know from 1935 where he’s in his sanctum and clearing his mind but also focusing on his mission, his ability and his power through meditation. It’s a solid look at what drives and possesses him, the way he’s so singularly focused in dealing with his prey and viewing them as tiny and weak, though acknowledging that in scale they are endless. In a lot of ways, the character reminds me of The Specter from DC Comics with the pursuit of justice and vengeance. Unfortunate for The Shadow here, while having his out of body experience through the astral plane, he ends up being sucked out of his time and place to be tested by something known as EDEN, which a first throws him against a green alien monster that just wants to utterly destroy him.
As it progresses, he has to face EDEN itself, which in its own way is less clear than the green alien encounter as it’s more about the dialogue between them, something that was reminiscent of 60’s Star Trek episodes in a way. The back and forth is solid enough, though awkward with EDENs speech style, but what we get out of it is definitely interesting with what EDEN really wants, how it came across The Shadow in the astral plane and the approach it takes to trying to convince him to join it in the larger defense of the world. Bringing Lamont into the future is really intriguing, especially from his 1935 self, and getting him to realize there’s a universe of evil out there to deal with and powering him with the weapons of a 25th century Earth, it just screams like the start of the story as opposed to the end, which is why this book proves so frustrating after spending so much of it with just bland action.
While The Shadow is not in my top tier of characters that I care about, I’ve read a number of entertaining stories over the years and certainly like the potential of the character. Unfortunately, that potential is once again squandered in this latest Altered States book. I feel like I’m in the same position as the others as what aren’t really getting what I think was promised in it being a What If? or Elseworlds versions of these characters, but rather just a light reworking. We should have gotten a future version of The Shadow, a reinvention of the character in the modern day, a savage version from millennia past or something else. We do get close to it in the final page or two here of something interesting, but again, it’s the final page or two. Hopefully we’ll see some real risk taking and diverse things done with these properties under this label because there’s so much potential there, but this just doesn’t capture what the Altered States brand should be done.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: March 25th, 2015