Valiant Entertainment began to relaunch their entire line of comics this past summer with what came to be known as “The Summer of Valiant.” Their comics, including X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, and Bloodshot garnered praise and amazing sales from fans both new and old. I totally overlooked Valiant’s work, though decided to follow X-O once it reaches trade paperback format next month. Their newest release, Shadowman, premiered this week and, almost on a whim, I decided to check it out. Could this title amaze me enough to join my pull list?
Shadowman #1 is set in New Orleans, a city steeped in history and a veritable melting pot of French and West Indian cultures. The story focuses on Jack Boniface, the punnily named young man who works at La Nouvelle Orleans Museum of Culture. He never knew his father who was also “Shadowman” before his apparent death at the hands of an enemy named Darque. A corruption, possibly related to Darque who has been missing for two decades, begins to infect the city, pulling Jack along with it. It seems this young man may have a destiny greater than anyone could imagine.
Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher teamed up to bring the story of Shadowman to life. A wide and varied cast of characters is introduced rather hastily, but the writers still manage to characterize everyone fairly well. The issue also provides a great world: not everything is explained, but that helps the reader feel just as confused (and intrigued) as Jack himself. The dialogue was fairly good as well. My main complaint is that we didn’t get to learn enough about Jack himself in this issue: though we saw a large cast of characters, Jack only had shallow characterization. I actually don’t mind that there wasn’t much action or explanation in this issue: those things can (and should) come once we’ve already gotten interested in the story, which this issue achieves.
Zircher also provided art for Shadowman, with Brian Reber coloring the issue. The artwork is superb. I really loved the realism of the characters’ appearances. The scenes involving supernatural entities were creepy and gruesome, actually making my skin crawl a bit which is a testament to skill of the artists. Shadowman’s design is pretty cool too: it’s simplistic, yet achieves the task of showing us he is a supernatural-death-attuned hero. The artists put a lot of work into the details of most scenes, especially their intricate backgrounds. I’ve got no gripes whatsoever when it comes to this book’s art.
Shadowman #1 is a good comic and lives up to the hype Valiant’s issues have received over the last few months. It’s definitely not the best comic I’ve ever read, but it’s still worth a look. The creative team brings amazing art and introduces a story with loads of promise. I have to admit I also liked that this comic was both set in Louisiana and starred a mixed-race hero which are still admittedly rare in comics. If you like supernatural stories, give Shadowman a try; it’s definitely a series I’ll keep reading!
-great introduction to multiple characters in a short space of time
-establishment of interesting plot threads
– Jack himself doesn’t receive a ton of characterization
– lack of explanations and action could be a turn off for some
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He still can’t get over that the hero’s last name is “Boniface” and the villain’s name is “Darque.”
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