Monday, 4 March 2013
Each Monday this year I'll be taking a look back at a random comic, prestige format issue, graphic novel or collection of reprints from amongst my 3,000 or so comics that date from 1962 to 2003 - I figured anything in the last ten years would be too recent to hark back to.
The comics are chosen completely at random and apart from a four week lead-in period, even I don't know what I'll be looking at in the weeks to come!
THE SHADE #2 - May 1997
The Shade's first solo outing from '97 was a wander through the history of the character, detailing his feud with the Ludlow family which began in 1838. In issue #1, the Ludlows attempted to kill him and frame him for the murder of a business associate of theirs, making him the patsy in the crime so they could inherit the victim's fortune. Despite not knowing of himself or his powers at the time, the Shade was able to kill those of the family that were there and escaped.
The surviving children, though, swore to exact revenge either by themselves or through their children.
Come 1931, almost a hundred years later, and the Shade has fallen in love with Marguerite Croft who turns out to be a Ludlow after all and one who, despite herself, has managed to fall in love with him as well, desite being brought up with tales of his monstrous, murderous history. Yet blood proves thicker and she poisons him despite her feelings for him:
The Shade offers her the chance to forget the feud, forget the vow of revenge. Knowing he may well survive the poison, he suggests that they simply draw a line under the incident and continue with their affair. He offers her the chance of a lifetime of happiness together.
Despite her love for him, she reveals that she will attempt to kill him against should he survive.
It can only end one way after that.
It's a terribly poignant scene; the killing takes place off screen and we're left with Shade's grief and remorse at his actions, but knowing that his self preservation makes sense to him. His complexity is part of what made the Shade such a stand out character in the Starman series (no mean feat considering how many good characters there were in that book) and this mini series is a cracking read even after all these years.