Shado: Song of the Dragon
Mike Grell, writer,
Michael Davis Lawrence, artist
(DC Comics, 1992)

When Mike Grell gave new life to Green Arrow in The Longbow Hunters, he created a fascinating new supporting character: the mysterious Japanese archer Shado. Later, in the course of Grell's excellent run on the Green Arrow monthly title, Shado took advantage of Green Arrow's injuries and delerium to seduce the archer -- all the while he was hallucinating and believed he was with his long-time lover, Black Canary -- and that encounter left Shado with a green-eyed son.

That's all the back story necessary to read Shado: Song of the Dragon, a marvelous tale that allows Shado to step out of her supporting role and stand alone as a main character. Song of the Dragon brings Shado into contact with a World War II veteran plagued with guilt over the katana lifted from the body of a Japanese foe during the war. Now, several decades later, he seeks her help in returning it to the dead soldier's heirs.

His well-intended action brings himself and Shado into a web of plots and violence involving the Yakuza (Japanese mob), a warrior monk, a withdrawn Vietnam veteran and a very special sword.

Song of the Dragon relies too heavily on dialogue in some areas, as the backgrounds of our two veterans unfold and the histories of the Yakuza and the Shingon Monastery are explained. However, artist Michael Davis Lawrence provides a nice counterpoint to the text with several action sequences that employ little or no dialogue, and his rich artistic style carries the story along with no break in pace. Song of the Dragon stands up to repeated readings over many years, and remains an excellent stand-alone story.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 24 August 2002