The Shade – James Robinson

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Now James Robinson’s The Shade is spun off from his Starman, and I only read the first volume of that series. Perhaps it speaks to Robinson’s skills as a writer that I felt perfectly situated reading this book, despite not knowing who this blue alien dude calling himself Starman is, or why The Shade is suddenly a good guy. Robinson delights in teasing lacunae as much as he does exposition, so I figured my obliviousness to the story’s context only serves to make The Shade the undisputed protagonist of his own tale.

The Shade himself is an immortal gentlemen with powers over darkness, which he uses to teleport himself and keep immortal. His immortality is what kickstarts the plot, with an unruly relative seeking a sample of his blood for similar longevity. The Shade has to go all over the world to figure out what’s going on, at one point even encountering an Australian superhero. I found the story’s conclusion unsatisfying – it felt as though this story was a pilot for a longer series.

I’d still recommend it. Robinson writes superheros-as-real-people, similar to Kurt Busiek. That, and the intimations of a world larger than the America of the DC universe, make this a book worth reading.

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