Shades, a fine graphic novel sketched and colored by amazing artists Harsho Mohan Chattoraj (the artist responsible for chapters 1–8 and the prologue), E.C. Nickel (responsible for penciling and inking 9–epilogue), and Muamal Khairi (responsible for coloring chapters 9–epilogue), never bored me. I was blown away by some of the art in this comic novel and was nearly leveled by the story itself. It features a grand selection of unique heroes, all with interesting back stories.
The story, written from the mind of David A.J. Berner, also a letterer, is one I think you should look into. If the name sounds familiar, it probably is, because he is a content contributor for the greatest geek culture site on the planet. Yes sirs and ma'ams, I'm referring to FanboysAnonymous.com. Perhaps his isn't a household name, but I don't think the cards are at all stacked against him and his crew, not with the kind of content they are producing.
The story jumps off with a simple man, a character by the name of Stanley Miller, who you later learn isn't such a superhero himself. He's bold and knows what's right, shows compassion for others in distress, and doesn't question his sense of justice—not for too long, anyhow. From time to time this seems to put him in a precarious pickle of a situation, even as he gallivants about with his grandson… but that's not really fair. In truth, he tried to explain that he had been kidnapped the night before and, as a precaution, it wasn't safe for the child to be present. It resulted in an argument with his daughter who asserts he is just trying to escape the responsibility. She storms out, leaving Sunil, the boy, which allows him the opportunity to go on a wild adventure. It's one he won't soon forget.
Before long, Sunil's eyes are opened to
a world in which his grandfather isn't just some old man with a nice stash of comics. He has a story. At some time he performed a necessary function for a certain set of people, and his skill is one they could use again.
Each and every character in the Shades graphic novel has a story of accomplishment, of failure, and of pain. None is as simple as having an innate sense of virtue and morality. It's their experience as human beings that has driven them to their current and past stances, and it is their humanity that will continue to push them, for better or worse. A great number of the stories sum up some harsh beginnings or endings and justify a path to or from their calling as superheroes.
David A.J. Berner and his collection of artists have put together a wonderful comic book novel indeed. On page 1 I was intrigued, but by page 20, I was a fan.