SHADOW SERVICE, VOL. 1
Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Corin Howell
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A supernatural detective tale about a witch private investigator who's coerced by a shadow organization within the United Kingdom to recover a lost artifact that's crucial to national security.
Equal parts brutal and entertaining, Shadow Service is what you'd get if John Constantine were forced to team up with a supernatural version of the Men in Black.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Gina is a paranormal private eye, using her witchcraft to navigate through London's criminal underworld. Her quiet life is interrupted, however, when she's captured by Section 26, otherwise known as MI666, an organization tasked with protecting the UK from supernatural threats. Their leader, Hex, coerces her to join their organization in search of the London Stone, an artifact responsible for warding off supernatural attacks that is now missing along with Gina's frequent employer, Quill, working with another entity responsible for its disappearance.
Under the threat of imprisonment, Gina forms an uneasy alliance with the MI666 to solve her missing person's case and track down Quill, but after all their history together, can she go through with turning on him? How long will her tenuous alliance with MI666 last?
Cavan Scott's writing effectively blends the horror, detective, and adventure genres together for a narrative bursting at the seams with imagination.
Corin Howell's artwork is equal parts grotesque and gorgeous. She approaches each horror sequence with reckless abandon resulting in imagery that will force readers to recoil in the best of ways.
Triona Farrell's color pallette is next-level work, adding further intensity to Howell's horror imagery and a crucial factor in Shadow Service being the visual feast that it is.
AndWorld's lettering and especially their SFX were impactful in heightening the drama of any scene with one notable highlight being an SFX that simulated the motion path of a chainsaw.
Gina is a compelling lead for this type of story. She's a loner, rebellious, and a bit of a smartass, but never devolves into being overly cynical. Through select flashbacks detailing her rough childhood and the lengths she'll go to for her clients in the present, Gina is made into an endearing protagonist that's easy for readers to get behind.
Each chapter wraps on a pitch-perfect cliffhanger ending, placing the characters in a situation that's intriguing on both a visual and story level that the reader can't help but see what happens next.
One Section 26 operative, Coyle, is given a wonderful set of flashbacks in a chapter that make him into such a tragic character and give clarity to why he treats Gina with such contempt.
Spoiler: Quill is an intriguing antagonist in that he's clearly done awful things but is also written as a sympathetic character. His relationship with Gina is something that will be intriguing to see develop in future volumes. There's an obvious respect between the characters in how they talk to each other, but also in the lengths Gina takes to aid him in the end.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: This story contains sequences of gruesome violence and a variety of disturbing imagery.
While the artwork is phenomenal from page one, the first chapter was a slow start investing the reader in the story and characters.
There are some pages where the dialogue comes across as overwritten, particularly during the story's exorcism sequences.
The cast of Section 26 could have used more flashback sequences to give more depth to their character. The flashbacks for Coyle did wonders for his character, but make Hex and Aashi seem flat by comparison.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Shadow Service is, above all, a treat for the eyes, with stunning artwork from Corin Howell and colors from Triona Farrell depicting so many unique horror situations, the reader is never sure what will happen next. Even though there are plenty of disturbing images, it always maintains a sense of fun with its action sequences so that even readers that aren't fans of the horror genre can still have a good time.
Though the first chapter was a slow start to the story, the subsequent chapters more than make up for it by fleshing out Gina, establishing an intriguing relationship with Quill, and some seriously creative cliffhangers at the end of each issue. Once it found its rhythm, Shadow Service quickly established itself as a wickedly entertaining horror adventure with the potential to become even better with future volumes.
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