Writer: Cullen Bunn
Illustrator: Jon Davis-Hunt
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
WHAT IS IT?
A New Orleans musician is bound by power and a family legacy to guard against monsters from the horrifying Deadside, a job made harder by those who seek to tear holes between that world and our own.
It’s a bit like Hellblazer with a dash of Ghost Rider, by way of Jericho Drumm, leaning towards horror mystery over superheroics.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
John Boniface didn’t ask to inherit the job of wrestling with supernatural threats from a dimension of demons and tortured souls, guarding the veil between worlds, but as the new Shadowman series begins he seems to have found peace with it. Even if that means putting his own life on hold. Until, that is, a frenzied beast from the Deadside begins slaughtering masked revelers in the street, and John finds himself walking into fresh horrors on the word of an old foe.
Can the Shadowman find the source of this chaos before more people die, or is this just the beginning of an all-new threat?
Bunn gives the reader everything they need to know about the main character in just a few pages, while also setting the horror-action tone of the book.
The art by Davis-Hunt is clean and bold, relying more on the character design and events within to convey the horror in a way that keeps the action clear.
Jordie Bellaire’s colors help the art find its place; the issue takes place entirely at night, but never feels hard to follow or afraid of using bright colors.
There are various spooky, otherworldly, and panicked voices in this story, and Cowles’ lettering manages to portray and place them all to great effect.
There is enough sense of history in the character design and setting elements that established fans will feel the weight of the previous runs but new readers won't feel like they are missing anything necessary to enjoy the tale, an impressive balance.
Throughout the dialogue there are little, very interesting, hints about the complicated relationship between the Deadside and the land of the living. Hints I very much hope are explored further.
Complementing the writing, the art team does an excellent job of telling the reader about the characters through expressions and body language, adding depth to almost every scene.
From the start, this issue shows the reader what to expect out of a Shadowman series, and ends with a strong hook into the larger story.
My favorite moment is the spread on pages 2 & 3, wonderfully introducing almost all of the central story and character elements that are explored in the rest of the issue.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Fair warning to those averse to blood and gore, the book’s style might not be splattering shadow-soaked horror but that does not mean it shies away from grotesque scenes when the story calls for it.
One of the central monstrous designs in the issue doesn't quite click, appearing more like a Dungeons & Dragons monster than a demon or nightmare from a spirit realm.
Much of the Shadowman's mythos is tied into the trappings of voodoo, and using real religions in supernatural fiction is always a delicate thing. With the first issue using Baron Samedi himself, it feels like something the book can't avoid addressing forever.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It's a bloody, sharp, and engaging story that manages to be complete while letting you know they're only getting warmed up. Those interested in superheroes that prowl at the edges of the everyday world, dealing with things others would run from in terror? This is the book for you. Similarly, fans of horror or occult fiction will find plenty to enjoy in both the dark story and incredible art.
Shadowman #1 shows us a character who is in his full power, someone who would rather be doing something else but can handle a massacre by an otherworldly murder in stride when it interrupts his evening plans. And then it puts him to work.
John Boniface has been the Shadowman, in some form or another, for almost 30 years and those hoping to welcome him into a new decade are going to consider this a must-see.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt
Hellblazer by Mike Carey & Steve Dillon and Jimmy Palimotti
Shadowman (2012) by Justin Jordan & Patrick Zircher
If you like the art:
Clean Room by Gail Simone & Jon Davis-Hunt
Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
All-New Ghost Rider by Felipe Smith & Tradd Moore
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Cullen Bunn – Writer
Cullen is mostly known for his horror writing, something he does in independent books and to various degrees in many of his superhero comics.
Prolific: He’s written for dozens of titles over the years, across almost as many genres!
He’s currently running a Kickstarter for his superheroes vs cosmic horrors comic, Beyond Mortal.
Jon Davis-Hunt – Illustrator
His earliest comic book work was mostly for 2000AD on Judge Dredd, Age of the Wolf, and Dandrige.
Multitalented: His background is in video game design, having helped create series like Dirt and Forza Horizon.
In 2011 he worked on two different Transformers comics spinning off of the movies.
Jordie Bellaire – Colorist
She started the “Comics are for everybody” campaign to make the comic book community more open and compassionate.
Award Winner: In 2014 Jordie was nominated for Best Cover Artist and won the award for Best Coloring.
Clayton Cowles – Letterer
Cowles is an illustrator and graduate of the Joe Kubert School and has worked as a letterer since 2009.
He worked on the acclaimed and highly stylized Mister Miracle mini-series by Tom King & Mitch Gerads.
Some of Cowles’ favorite books to work on have been Bitch Planet and Redlands.
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