With the announcement this week that Dynamite Entertainment has acquired the rights to do comic books starring the Shadow, the New Jersey comics company has become the home for a majority of pulp heroes in comics. Although an argument could have been made that DC Comics held that title when it was publishing its now-canceled “First Wave” line, with this latest announcement the Shadow joins other proto-comic heroes like Zorro, the Phantom, Dracula, the Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet and others in Dynamite’s line.
While this isn’t the first time that multiple pulp icons have been under one comic publisher’s roof, it’s by far the most concentrated in some time. Although most weren’t created in comics, pulp characters have a long history bouncing around from numerous publishers over the years. The Shadow, for instance has been published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Archie and even a newspaper strip that’s run off and on through the years — and his pulp brethren can claim similar paths over time.
The notable absences to Dynamite’s de facto pulp line are tied up — or have been until recently — by other publishers. DC’s rights to Doc Savage, the Avenger and Rima The Jungle Girl are currently unknown, while Tarzan resides at Dark Horse, and Moonstone, another pulp-inspired comics publisher, publishes stories about the Spider and the Domino Lady.
But with the potency of Dynamite’s line-up so far, it casts a potentially long shadow (no pun intended) on the comics industry and what’s possible. Imagine a pulp line firing on all cylinders, perhaps even a crossover at some point or even a Justice Society-style team-up.
Update: And today Dynamite announced they’ll be making comics starring another pulp hero, The Spider.
In my debut CTN column, I raved about Justice Inc., a two-part prestige format series DC put out in the late 1980s, written by Andrew Helfer and drawn by Kyle Baker. The book starred a long-forgotten pulp hero known as the Avenger. That comic was actually a spin-off of another comic Helfer and Baker were doing at the time, which was also based off of a pulp hero, although in his case he was far from forgotten. I’m talking, of course, about The Shadow.