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Longbox Junk Solomon Kane: Red Shadows

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To me, Solomon Kane is one of the most unique characters out there. . .not nearly as well known as other R.E. Howard creations like Red Sonja, King Kull, or Conan. . .but still a great character.  For those who are not familiar, Kane is basically a combination of The Punisher and Blade The Vampire Hunter, created long before either of those characters and set in the late 1500's/early 1600's.  If you like dark stories about the supernatural and those who fight it, then definitely check out some Solomon Kane (Most of his earlier comic appearances are from Marvel).

ANYWAY. . .

SOLOMON KANE: RED SHADOWS (Dark Horse)

ISSUE 1

It's a bit of a strange thing, but this first issue of "Red Shadows" is not actually the first issue of the story. The main story is actually only 3 issues long and starts with the NEXT issue. THIS issue is actually a completely unrelated one shot.

That bit of strangeness aside, this first issue is really good. . .almost great! I was pleasantly surprised to see that this is one of those rare exceptions where the cover art is substantially WORSE than the interior art. It's usually the other way around.

The cover on this book is extremely crap-tastic, while the painted interior art is of stellar quality! It's grim, moody, and bloody. . .but it's also delicate and brightly-colored in places. I'm not familiar with this artist, but he is PERFECT for a Solomon Kane story!

The writing also delivers. Even though the story is a simple one. . .Kane encountering a vengeful spirit while travelling through a swamp, discovering the truth behind the haunting, and then setting things right. . .the dialogue is spot on and the story moves along quickly. It's a great read with a satisfying conclusion.

All in all, I really liked this first issue a lot, even though (as mentioned above) it's NOT the actual first issue of a continued story, but a one shot tale. It's well worth looking for.

ISSUE 2

This second issue of "Red Shadows" is actually the FIRST issue of the main story.

Taking place in France during the late 1500's the story is a simple one. . .Kane finds a raped and dying girl and swears vengeance for her. . .then proceeds to hunt and kill those responsible until only one remains, the wily swordsman and bandit, Le Loup.

As in the first issue, the cover is terrible, but the interior art is truly remarkable and a perfect fit for this kind of story. Standout moments include a gruesome page of a wolf feasting on a dead man's face. . .three panels showing the deadly fates of three of Le Loup's henchmen. . .the first face to face encounter between Kane and Le Loup, and the final full page shot of Kane at the girl's grave. But truly, each page is a fantastic work of art!

The story is also well-written, fast-paced, and engaging. It really makes you want to see what happens next.

All in all, I found this issue to be outstanding in almost every way.

ISSUE 3

Although still some very good work, I didn't like this issue as much as the previous two.

The story moves to Africa, with Kane finally tracking down his foe (Le Loup), who has tricked his way into the leadership of a native tribe. Kane is captured, but finds an ally in ousted witch doctor N'Longa. Kane is forced to battle a hulking warrior (Kulka) in front of the tribe as execution by combat. . .but things get interesting when the previous combatant rises from the dead and joins the fight!

The art is still spectacular, but not as much so as in previous issues. Standout moments include Kane and Kulka's brutal battle. . .including nut kicks, thumbs to the eye, and a knife through the wrist. The risen zombie who joins the fight with half his head cleaved off was also wonderfully gruesome and eerie. But there were also some fairly poorly executed daylight scenes. I think this artist is just better suited to dark and dreary scenes more so than brightly-lit outdoor scenes.

The writing also fell a bit flat on this one as well. Maybe it was the jungle setting, which seems like a strange choice for a character like Solomon Kane, who is more interesting stalking the dark countryside of Europe (to me, anyway).

Still, I'm not saying it's bad by any means. It's still a good read and is well-drawn. It's just not as great as the previous two issues.

ISSUE 4

Like the previous issue, this is still a very nice piece of work, but the African setting really doesn't do it any favors, and really, this is probably the weakest of the 4 issues in this series.

But also as before, that doesn't mean it's bad at all.

The painted, beautifully-colored art is still VERY nice! Standout moments include Chief Songa getting his face torn off by a zombie and the gruesome final fate of Le Loup as he falls into a pond full of crocodiles.

The conclusion of the story is fast-paced and exciting, if not as dark and brooding as previous issues. . .most of this issue was fighting. . .Kane and Zombie vs. Kulka, Kane vs. Le Loup, Kane vs. Kulka. . .so there naturally wasn't very much room for storytelling.

All in all, despite the odd setting for Solomon Kane and fighting taking the place of storytelling, I still found this to be a satisfying conclusion to this series.

CONCLUSION

As a big fan of Solomon Kane, I really liked this mini.  The art was spectacular and the writing was fast-paced and exciting.  The setting for the final two issues was a little strange, but it wasn't off-putting enough to keep me from enjoying the story.   I found the first issue to be the best. . .as a stand-alone story set in a dark, haunted corner of England, it really fit the character of Solomon Kane the best.  But I highly suggest this nice little hidden gem of Longbox Junk for anyone interested in dark stories of the supernatural.

Up next. . .

It's not random "Space Marines."  Hell no! It's the United States Marine Corps in space!

Space: Above and Beyond.  Be there of be square!


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