The Shade #6(of 12) - 'Las Cinco Esquinas' - Robinson and Pulido
Story - This Shade maxi-series has been one of my favourite things to come out of the DC relaunch, and it's been a real return to form for James Robinson, a writer whom, after the lamentable Cry For Justice, many had thought lost the to depths of crapness. But no! With The Shade, he has shown his old Starman quality, and the series has been a lot of fun, with one of the best aspects being the way Robinson has developed the wider DC Universe and shown us what kinds of superbeings inhabit countries other than the US of A.
So after showing us a German private detective and an aboriginal wizard in previous stories, this latest storyline (which started in last month's #5) has taken Shade to Barcelona, for a visit with his adopted vampire daughter, La Sangre, as she takes on her arch-nemesis, The Inquisitor.
This issue not only continued the deepening mystery of who and what exactly The Inquisitor is, but also introduced another Catalonian superhero in Montpellier, a crime-fighter with reptilian abilities. Whilst Montpellier doesn't get much to do in this issue, I just found it really cool that a character like this exists, that a writer is trying this hard to make the DCU seem truly global and really adding to the tapestry. It would be awesome if the likes of La Sangre or Montpellier were to show up in titles like Justice League International (as long as they don't get blown up!). For a relaunch that so many have claimed to be backwards-looking, some of the titles have actually been attempting to progress, but they don't get nearly as much media attention, and it's time to shine a light on books like The Shade (that pun was unintentional I swear).
Sure there are continuity niggles in this book, the history of Starman and the golden age seems to be intact, but elements of the New 52 such as Deathstroke have appeared. This book could even be a part of the upcoming Earth-2! But really, this sort of stuff doesn't matter when the contents are so enjoyable. This issue was a great european caper, with great witty dialogue, exciting new characters and an interesting villain. If you're looking for a DC book to read... you won't go wrong with this one.
Art - Javier Pulido has been a favourite of mine ever since he worked on the short-lived series 'Breach'. His style is very similar to Marcos Martin, who is one of my favourite artists working today, perhaps a bit more blocky and less experimental, but no less good. Being Spanish, he is of course a perfect fit for a story set in Spain (I'm not going to get into any Catalonia not wanting to be in Spain debates here, save that for El Clasico), as he brings a european edge to the story. I also love his depiction of The Shade, how he seems so much more still than anyone else, and the almost constant raised eyebrow. Just excellent.
Best Line - '...Some of my best friends are sodomites'