Episode 28: Shaman’s Tears #1

Here we go with Image Comics again. Their promise of creator freedom lured in all kinds, including writer/artist Mike Grell. His contribution was the series Shaman’s Tears. Host Nathaniel Wayne only has this first issue, so let’s hope it starts strong because this is the only shot it has!

Listen to Episode 28: Shaman’s Tears #1.

You can subscribe to the Council of Geeks Podcast, home of 90s Comics Retrial on iTunes or on Stitcher.


And I’ll add one interior look from writer/artist Mike Grell so that you can know what the costume I talk about looks like.


I’m not sure about this new exercise routine.

Finally, a reminder that the podcast theme song is by Erica Driesbach,and you can find more of her work at her website right here.


3 thoughts on “Episode 28: Shaman’s Tears #1

  1. I remember seeing this cover over and over and over in my youth. I don’t know if it was in house ads or if I kept walking past the issue on the shelves or in back-issue bins. I never read the issue because the cover told me nothing about the contents (go figure) and I didn’t know Mike Grell’s work enough to flip through the book just for the art.

    Nice review. Sounds like this was one of the more conflicted verdicts you’ve handed down so far.


  2. Frank says:

    Shaman’s Tears came on the tail end of my “I’ll give most any Image creator a few issues” period. It was also during that time when the young punks expanded their circle to include a bunch of veterans, likely because they could deliver timely books and maintain the brand while the little snot millionaires released two issues a year. The move probably allowed Keith Giffen the chance to cash the biggest check he’d ever see, but it was ultimately decided that the old farts were diluting the hipness of the brand, plus the speculator bubble was already quivering if not outright burst by then. Image outright fired the lot of them, leading several to start their own publishing houses.

    Mike Grell was arguably the most deserving of the windfall by association, having quit DC at the height of his fame for the relatively successful creator-owned Jon Sable books. He’d also pioneered artist-engineered work for hire by licensing his Starslayer property to First Comics after Pacific folded, whose creative team then spun out their own long lived series, Grimjack (which they didn’t own, but eventually recovered.) Guys like Grell wrote Image’s playbook.

    By extension, Grell’s ’80s work informed a lot of ’90s era awfulness and beyond. The man loves his gratuitous splash/half-splash/low panel density pages, silent segments, minimal dialogue, and was an early champion of decompressed storytelling overall. I’ve always liked his art, but I think his brief run on the Action Comics Weekly Blackhawk serial was one of the few times since The Warlord that I’ve enjoyed his writing at all. Further, I saw an actual photograph of the man via one of the Wizard types magazines around this time, and he was a paunchy white dude with a ponytail and a Native American style beaded choker, plus I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him in a brown leather fringed jacket with matching hat. We didn’t have high-falutin’ terms like “cultural appropriation” back then, so we’d just call Mister Dances With Wolves a poseur (it’s French.)

    I wasn’t a liberal back then, so my main beef with narratively going Native was that Grell seemed to merely be regurgitating elements of AIM-influenced cinema and TV of the ’70s and early ’80s. That ritual at the end of the issue is from A Man Called Horse as I recall. If Grell did legit research, it didn’t come across through the haze of pop cult familiar tropes. Even in comics, Red Wolf was on a similar trek in Marvel Comics Presents.

    I read the book for the first 3-4 issues, and tossed through the rest of the run as a retailer, but can’t add anything substantial to your assessment. Shaman had run-ins with Dr. Moreau’s modern offspring and crossovers with Jon Sable and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Valiant briefly published a revival of Starslayer and a Sable spin-off called Maggie the Cat that may have carried over elements of Shaman’s Tears. That’s all I’ve got.

    I actually like the foil cover, as it’s well designed and pops. It would make a good tattoo, but despite finding at least one dude with a Shaman’s Tears tat on Google image search, it wasn’t this icon. Joe Linsner’s Dawn was already doing the “right eye with three streaming tears” thing, so even that element is problematic, even beyond assuming Shaman was just extra sad about highway litter. The costume was kind of nice, if the dude was joining the Legion twenty years earlier instead of headlining a contemporary title.


  3. I have this and remember very little about it except that it was very splashy. The fact that I didn’t then buy a next issue means it was a bust as far as story goes, despite this famous Mike Grell fellow a solid attempt at getting hot artists with actual writing experience on Image’s schedule.

    It only strikes me now, reading Frank’s comment, that Shaman’s Tears is sort of a riff on the Crying Indian pollution PSA, and therefore a little bit racist. Did he also hang out in cigar stores?


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