Comic Book Review: Shadowman #5
The Shadowman series was always missing something that this ongoing finally remedies. The answer to that being, well answers. For as many victories and losses that Jack has experienced as the Shadowman, nothing was going to change for him when in contrast to all the Shadowmen who came before him, he knows very little about what he is capable of with this loa within him. Shadowman #4 began to prove that knowledge is power when there’s nothing between Jack and the truth that lies in the past.
This issue takes that next step forward when this Shadowman, Marius Boniface, we step into the shoes of just so happens to be the very first. Knowing Marius’ story, I almost feared that they would try to recap what led to him becoming the Shadowman. Enough of us who anticipated the return of Shadowman know this story well enough that it would have been a distraction from what we really wanted to know followed after becoming the first Shadowman. That’s not to say that you would want to ignore the readers who are new, but this wasn’t going to be the time to rehash when the goal should be to produce answers and new content. With that said, Marius felt like a different person from who he was before. Not in a bad way, of course. After losing Sandria, it made sense that someone like him would be more withdrawn and not wanting to do with other’s problems. It was also a more fitting behavior for someone like him during that time period where you were better off keeping your head down and doing you.
I couldn’t help but feel blown away by what fate had in store for Marius. The big question for him was how someone who had no reason to hate could lose himself to the temptation of the loa. What we looked for here was the moment where it would be understood why the Shadowman is an entity plagued with hate and a thirst for destruction. That much did not disappoint when this guy made everything that seemed unfortunate for Jack seem so small in comparison.
What was truly important about this meeting of Marius as the Shadowman was how this contract between him and the loa became binding to his family’s bloodline. Where I said that the events of the issue before changed everything we thought we knew about the loa so far? This issue changes everything entirely. I was satisfied by what we could pretty much piece together on out own about the purpose of the Shadowman and the loa. It definitely isn’t for what the more current Shadowmen used it for. Not to mention now there are two ideas you can take note of for apparently controlling the loa spirit. You can either control it, or you can embrace it. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground which has always been Jack’s problem up to this point.
As the line-up of artists rotates again, now we have Doug Braithwaite taking over on pencils. He was fitting for this point in time and is no stranger to handling this kind of story either. An older Marius looked the part of someone who was worn by war and loss. And he made the Shadowman look terrifying in a way that challenged what it means to let the anger take over. The red glow in his eyes was a perfect touch as well. I like that in contrast to other Shadowmen, he also carried the look in his face that is more familiar to Jack’s. Jose Villarrubia stays on colors and does a great job of bringing out the best in another penciler. Colorists like him don’t get enough credit when able to adapt to different styles of pencils, settings, and tones. It was his ability to capture the atmosphere of this time period which stood out most. Organic colors, but knew exactly when to change things up when the Shadowman in Marius was unleashed. This story required a more tame approach just because of Braithwaite’s brushed style.
Shadowman #5 introduces us to what just might change the path that Jack has set upon. He may have a world of his own to save through knowledge of the past, but that same knowledge might also lead him to correct a problem that clearly has not been settled by the Boniface bloodline. When they said this was a must-read moment for Shadowman fans? That’s not some line they are selling you to simply hype this up.