A Writer's Commentary: David Avallone talks Twilight Zone: The Shadow #1, on sale now from Dynamite. Cover is by Francesco Francavilla. Interiors are by Dave Acosta.
Dynamite's Executive Editor Joseph Rybandt dropped me an email and asked if I could come up with a four-issue series combining The Shadow and The Twilight Zone. He always likes to give me the easy ones. After a little back-and-forth I came up with something that was able to satisfy the powers that be, so here we are with issue one. Spoilers ahoy!
First, let's talk about that cover. I was very excited when I was told Francesco Francavilla would be doing my covers, and this first issue cover is gorgeous. Met him recently at Wondercon, and aside from being wildly talented, a very nice guy.
When in doubt: Nazis. This story needed to begin with a bang. At first I was going to do some tried-and-true warehouse full of gangsters' thing… but the more I thought about it, the more that was more tired than tried-and-true, and I wasn't really taking advantage of setting a story in the late thirties. That said, I didn't want to send the Shadow to Europe, so I did a little research on American Nazis, and discovered charming Camp Siegfried, out on Long Island. Google it. It's insane. The place was a Nazi Summer Camp not far from Manhattan. A good place for The Shadow to show up and bust up the fun and crafts and sing-alongs and anti-Semitism.
The Shadow's a pretty good shot, huh? I love Dave Acosta's work throughout the book, but the two panels here with the Shadow, standing in front of flames and a Nazi banner, knock me out. Incredibly iconic stuff. This was the first comic where I got to choose my own artist, and Dave has exceeded my high expectations on every single page. When we got started I set up a Pinterest board where we swap image references back and forth. Maybe when the whole series has been published I'll make it public. (For now… too many spoilers.)
Margo Lane, "friend and companion." For some pulp fans, it is the utmost heresy to include Margo, but the Shadow's universe is a little monotonously male for me otherwise. For the purposes of the story, I needed someone who would call him out for the recklessness of this raid, and I couldn't see anyone else who would do it with the same power. Not that it seems to phase the Shadow.
Panels three and four might be my favorite moment in the series. I bet Margo is pretty tired of hearing his catchphrases.
Moses Shrevnitz, ladies and gentlemen. He cracks me up. We'll be seeing more of him later. Moe is one of my favorites, and I wouldn't leave him out of the fun.
Sharp-eyed readers who might have read my ALTERED STATES-THE SHADOW comic will recognize the rug in the Sanctum.
Pages eight and nine.
I tried to make clear in the text piece that unlike Bruce Wayne/Batman, Lamont Cranston is NOT the Shadow. The true fans know this, but the casual reader won't. Here the Shadow, ie. Kent Allard, has found himself in Lamont's body, nose-to-nose with himself. In the pulps, the Shadow doesn't treat Lamont with a whole lot of respect, and I wanted to put a little of that feeling in this scene.
I thought it told you something about the Shadow's arrogance, and his reliance on Shrevvy, that he hasn't bothered to ever learn Margo's address. I bet the real Lamont knows where she lives.
First Shrevvy and now Margo make cracks about Lamont being a drinker. Seems like a 1930s playboy millionaire kind of thing. Panel four: gratuitous Alice Through The Looking Glass reference.
In the pulps, none of the agents know who The Shadow really is. I decided to make Margo a little bit more curious, and more clever, than that. She's been paying attention and picking up clues and she's figured it out. Allard was a World War One flying ace hero. Those guys got their pictures in the papers. Margo's been down at the New York Public library looking at microfiche. Clearly.
Sure, he's somewhat of a yellow peril Fu Manchu cliché, but in spite of all that I have great fondness for Shiwan Khan. As supervillains go, he's a smart fellow and he came back more than any other Shadow antagonist. In panel four, the Shadow says, "I thought you'd drowned…" This issue is set between Shiwan Khan's first and second appearances in the Shadow pulps: at the climax of the first one he is seemingly drowned.
As is his custom, Khan refers to the Shadow as "Ying Ko." I did some research and this doesn't really translate into Chinese… Ying means shadow, but Ko doesn't seem to mean anything. But it's canon, so I've decided it's a deeply personal multi-lingual insult meaningful specifically to Shiwan Khan, who speaks many languages.
Margo's handy with a bottle. The Shadow is concerned that she stick with the cheap stuff. Maybe Lamont's psyche is rubbing off on him.
Certain death? Of course not. Just another step a little deeper into… The Twilight Zone. It seemed to me that one of the most Twilight Zone things I could do with the Shadow is go a little meta on him. So next issue it's time for a visit to a radio studio in 1937. Tune in then…
For more on The Twilight Zone: The Shadow #1, click here.