God of Comics – The Shadow #5
The Shadow #5 (Dynamite Entertainment)
It’s a loaded word with massive spiritual, biblical, and philosophical undertones. Biblically, Leviathan was the largest creature created by God, a creature that lives in the ocean. In the Old Testament it’s an active force and swallows Jonah for disobeying God; in the New Testament it’s asleep and when it awakens it will herald the end of all things. Spiritually, Leviathan commonly references a fallen angel, one of the most powerful members of Hell’s royalty. This iteration has inspired video games, comics, movies, and novels and it slumbers in every mind, waiting.
Philosophically, Thomas Hobbes fronted the idea as a catch-all for his thesis about human civilization as an organism and how deviation can be likened to a mental infection of the world as a whole; Hobbes demands adherence and service to the nation-state, noting that morality begins and ends with the nation-state and therefore individual ethos is an illusion. Hobbes banishes the spiritual and biblical while drawing upon them,
Hobbes doesn’t believe in the greatest possible good, thinking that is an illusion, but he does believe in an absolute evil: the act of violent death.
This is the only salvation the hero of this book can offer.
It is telling, then, that Si Spurrier and Dan Watters have taken all three definitions and woven them into an absolute evil that is more terrifying than anything Hobbes could have envisioned; a seething mass of revulsion and hatred that enslaves through ignorance and causes humanity to lash out against itself, a war of all against all. This is the monstrosity that they’ve set the Shadow against, a creature that is the end result of the zero-sum game our nation-state paradigms have based themselves upon.
Political corruption, the enslavement of information, the theft of dignity, thought, reason… the Shadow here has seen the face of Leviathan and then lost sight of the creature when it slunk into the spotlights of television, seeping through the lying tongues of politicians bought and paid for by a corporate-state. Hobbes argued in favor of a monarchy, but the one percent of the one percent that has become the modern world sovereign are death cultists that worship Mammon and little else.
Even if you can see into the hearts of men, even if you are armed with trickery and firearms and all the shadows in night’s kingdom, how are you supposed to fight an enemy that lives in spotlights that cast no shadow? The vile corporate overlords get richer and use their pawns to do it, making use of a system that was once meant to make the world better but had some glaring flaws that were taken advantage of and now serve a very different master.
That’s what the Shadow knows. He knows he’s a burn victim slowly dying on a hospital bed and that he can no longer see his enemy. He knows his enemy is coming for him. He knows his nurse, Mary Jerez, now knows the face of their enemy and that it’s likely to cost them both everything.
Much has been made over the past few years of the use and threat of violence. This book is very much rooted in that as Leviathan thrashes and people co-opt pure symbols for their own twisted ideals, the morality of Leviathan acting through them: a shattering of anything good or different, the illogical extreme of Hobbes’ theories broken down into objectivism. It’s brilliant heady stuff that works well with its subject material and has a judicious use of bloody violence, all lovingly rendered by Daniel HDR.
One of the best comics you can be reading right now, especially if you like some violence with your mythos and high-minded philosophy.