Comic Book Review: Shadowman #1
Shadowman finally makes his triumphant return to the forefront of the Valiant Universe. This was a long time coming and I don’t think there is a hero who fans have asked to see again more. Shadowman, or Jack, or the Magpie, has been a character seen in other stories since his years of self-imposed exile, but never has he actually gotten another book of his own till now. Even better that we are talking about an ongoing series as well. Truthfully we have needed more representation of this corner of the Valiant Universe for quite some time. Ninjak’s adventures were fun, but this just isn’t his world.
Now even with what we know about Jack’s adventures since his exile, there was still a question of what he has been up to since discovering his purpose as the Shadowman. That second chance to talk with his father changed everything that was a dark road Jack was walking. With that said, how they worked in a scene that both addressed what happened to Jack when accepting Nicodemo’s deal, and how his trip back wasn’t so smooth was great for putting everyone on the same page. With a new #1, it is always important to make the series welcoming to new readers, while at the same time creating progress for those who have been able to keep up with Jack’s story throughout other series. Now there were a few things that didn’t quite line up with what we learned about loas in “Rapture”. I would have thought their understanding of loas was greatly improved through Jack’s experience with Abel.
In the grand scheme, I suppose you could say that overcoming the urges of the loa would be easier said than done regardless of knowledge. The new challenges he faces add to the investment of this new ongoing. There will always be the dangers he poses to himself and those around him, but there is also the mystery to the darkness that has been rising in his absence. Without a Shadowman there had to be some consequence to the world of the living. Now was the best time to get into that and where those like Jack and Alyssa fit into this.
I’m glad that one of the priorities for this ongoing was to address the whereabouts of Alyssa. For a character who had such an importance in Jack’s life, one had to wonder just what she has been up to all this time. Whether the aim was for these two to cross paths or not, this was just something we needed to know after the last time we saw her. It was satisfying to see what the events of her past didn’t stop her from doing what she does best. Seeing things from her perspective as well was refreshing when everyone does have their own views of magic. For as much magic as she does have, it was also a nice reminder to see this Alyssa who is not one to mess with when her back is against the wall. Alyssa’s conversation with Jack was a big one that I think they handled very well. This was never going to be a time for warm welcomes if that was what anyone expected. Alyssa may have been neglected concerning some of the recent things that Jack was up to, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have her own troubles to deal with. When confronting Jack, all that would matter is the way he made her feel after abandoning her.
High-octane artist was a perfect description for Stephen Segovia for what he and Ulises Arreola (Colors) delivered for this first issue. Of Valiant’s cycle of artists, I was glad they chose Segovia over some of these others considering his grounded touch to his characters and ability to bring out the darkness of this world. The same could be said for Arreola who isn’t a stranger to stories with darker tones. Knew how to set the atmosphere, and how to get bold when it came to the capturing the supernatural elements. Particularly when there was the use of magic. It helped to have a firm grasp of transparency through colors as well. That aside, a few things stood out from this issue in terms of design. First was the creativity put into our first demonic encounter. That set the bar for what we should expect from the others down the road. An intimidating design, size, and physiology to the demon said all that needed to be said about the troubles developing while the Shadowman was gone. Then speaking of the Shadowman, it was smart how they quickly peeled away the character that was the Magpie for us to finally get to Jack. This was probably the first time that we had seen him in a long time, and he had the look of someone who probably hadn’t seen himself in a good while too.
Shadowman #1 is a satisfying start to the new series. I figured there was going to be a few things shaky considering Jack’s story has spanned across a number of other hero stories up to this point, but that aside this was exactly what was needed for Jack to begin taking charge of his fate once again. Or at least trying to. It was awesome to catch up with Alyssa and how she has changed herself over the course of five years as well. Everything they face from here will challenge their ability to rise to the occasion and repair their fractured relationship.