As the inaugural title of Aspen Comics' "10 For 10" celebration of the company's 10th Anniversary, "Legend of the Shadow Clan" #1 by writers David Wohl and Brad Foxhoven with art by Cory Smith packs more bang for the buck than some of this week's $4.00 titles. Having only sampled "Fathom" "Charismagic" and "Soulfire" while regularly (or as regular as it was) reading "Lady Mechanika, "Legend of the Shadow Clan" #1 is not a stereotypical Aspen Comic. As a matter of fact, it is pretty darn close to the exact opposite of what Aspen generates in my mind.
The story opens with a brief exposition of the philosophy driving the action in this comic book, but it quickly shifts gears and delivers on the action, like the opening scene of a summer thriller movie. The scene quickly changes to introduce the stars of "Legend of the Shadow Clan": the Himura family. Parents Richard and Eve are both working professionals and have three children that run the gamut from overachiever to almost-achiever. The oldest, Brayden, is content with living life, but as a stereotypical high schooler couldn't care less about homework or grades. His two younger siblings -- sister Morgan and brother Pogo -- are contentious and challenge each other over who can be the better student, which provides some levity and certainly flies in the face of stereotypical comic book student expectations. Wohl and Foxhoven mesh nicely to make this family very next-door, believable and even likeable, despite little subplots and events that begin to spill into their lives.
Cory Smith's rugged, reality-based artwork is a perfect match for "Legend of the Shadow Clan." He beautifully choreographs his characters through their scenes, regardless of the action dictated by the panels. Smith tackles everything from a balcony view into a chemical lab to ninjas descending from drone aircrafts and it all looks great. John Starr's coloring accentuates Smith's art nicely without disrupting the vibe or extinguishing the moody shadows Smith uses throughout this story. The art joins the story in lockstep to deliver a surprisingly entertaining and thrilling comic book.
Like a $10-for-10 item sale at your local supermarket, if you sample all the debut issues Aspen offers, you'll only have sacrificed a Hamilton for a half-score of comics. That might get three comics from Marvel or DC, but from Aspen, it'll be three times that, at least. If even one third of the remaining comic book titles are even half as entertaining and enjoyable as "Legend of the Shadow Clan" #1, it will certainly be worth the cash spent. Twenty pages of full-color story plus a spread filled with insight from series co-plotter Brad Foxhoven that also includes sketches from Cory Smith make "Legend of the Shadow Clan" a comic worth checking out. The pricepoint makes it a ridiculous bargain. I quite enjoyed this first issue and will definitely check back in with the Himuras for "Legend of the Shadow Clan" #2, regardless of price.