Connect with us
Shadowman_01
Valiant Comics

Comic Books

‘Shadowman’ #1 is good when it should be great

A superstar creative team renews one of Valiant’s longest serving heroes. What could go wrong?

If you’re anything like me, outside of vague memories of a tangentially connected video game from N64 days, you’re fairly unfamiliar with Shadowman. Sure, you could probably pick him out on a promo poster for Valiant Comics, but his powers, motivations and basically anything else about the character remained a mystery.

As such, the series’ revival, written by Cullen Bunn with art by Jon Davis-Hunt (an artist I’ve fawned over considerably in the past) seemed like a great place to jump into the franchise. Bunn is a talented author with a good voice for character, and Davis-Hunt’s plotting of action sequences in The Wild Storm kept me hooked on that series for 24 issues, so on paper, this sounds like a team that can’t lose! And after reading the first issue of the new Shadowman series, they don’t lose….but they don’t really hit it out of the park, either.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!
Shadowman_01

Image provided by Valiant Comics

Shadowman is Jack Boniface, New Orleans-based jazz musician by day, corpse-painted demon wrangler by night. His powers, though ill-defined in this issue, are granted to him by the Shadow Loa, a voodoo spirit that…actually, that too is a little vague. In fact, for the opening issue of the series, this issue definitely assumes a certain familiarity with the character and that can be pretty tricky for readers new to the character. Yes, the groundwork is laid for the latest adventure that Boniface finds himself in, but all we know of the character’s abilities are a magic scythe and the usual strength and speed of your average super person. I’m still not entirely clear what the character is capable of.

This wouldn’t be as glaring if the issue didn’t fall into so many familiar tropes of origin stories. The exposition of Baron Samedi’s lineage folding into a three panel TKO of a group of faceless guards all scream “introductory chapter”, and yet by the end of the issue all I know of Jack Boniface is that he’s a walking badass cliche with the ability to look like Larenz Tate in Dead Presidents.

Shadowman_01

Image provided by Valiant Comics

I’m sad to say that I also have issues with some of Davis-Hunt’s artwork as well. If there was a word to describe this issue, it would be abrupt. Many events and reveals seem like they would benefit from more build than they receive, particularly the opening battle with the Blight. I’m already not crazy about the design of the blight, as it looks like a cross between a skeksis and Giant Gonzales, but the fact that we essentially get a full body shot of what should be a terrifying character on the third page of the book removes a lot of the oomph. The sequence also features a few extraneous panels that were clearly placed there to fill out a layout, but don’t actually add anything to the story.

Similarly, the aforementioned three-way knockout just doesn’t flow. In order for it to work, they each would have had to stay still while their friends are getting knocked out, which is disappointing to see from an artist with such a strong grasp of motion. His figures and faces are still strong. Alas, I do wish the colors from Jordie Bellaire were a touch more vibrant, as many sequences in the book lack contrast — and the fact that Baron Samedi’s color palette is so muted just seems wrong.

ShadowMan_01

Image provided by Valiant Comics

I know I just aired a bunch of grievances with this book, but it’s because I know this team is capable of so much more. It shouldn’t suggest that there are no positives, either — I really like Davis-Hunt’s Jack Boniface, and the way Shadowman’s scythe separates into little plates when he’s destroying the extra-dimensional portals is inspired design. I also think the dynamic between Jack and Baron Samedi will make for strong banter as the series goes on, provided the phantasmal Baron leans further into his more colorful proclivities.

Still, as an intro to the character and series overall, Shadowman #1 leaves a little to be desired. It’s certainly not bad, but there just isn’t a lot to set this apart from other similar books on the shelf. Here’s hoping this is just an early stumble, as Bunn and Davis-Hunt’s resumes do lend themselves to fairly high expectations.

Shadowman_01
‘Shadowman’ #1 is good when it should be great
Shadowman #1
This isn't a bad outing, but it doesn't really kick the door down like you'd expect creators of this caliber to do. This feels a bit like straight-A students turning in a B paper. The pacing is wonky, the tropes are familiar and the design of the primary monsters are a touch derivative. It's not that it's bad at all, it's just rather forgettable.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The story ends on a decently enticing note, setting the stage for the book's first arc while introducing a central mystery upon which to build.
The design of Jack Boniface is pretty cool.
The story and setting seem more than a bit familiar for avid comic readers.
Several sequences could have used more page space to breathe, and fall flat because of it.
7
Good

Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!

Comments

In Case You Missed It

EXCLUSIVE BOOM! Preview: WWE The New Day: Power of Positivity EXCLUSIVE BOOM! Preview: WWE The New Day: Power of Positivity

EXCLUSIVE BOOM! Preview: WWE The New Day: Power of Positivity

Comic Books

Heavy Metal announces 'Chasing the Dragon' #1 sells out Heavy Metal announces 'Chasing the Dragon' #1 sells out

Heavy Metal announces ‘Chasing the Dragon’ #1 sells out

Comic Books

X-Men Monday #105 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Pets, the New X-Men, 'The Trial of Magneto' and More X-Men Monday #105 - Jordan D. White Talks X-Pets, the New X-Men, 'The Trial of Magneto' and More

X-Men Monday #105 – Jordan D. White Talks X-Pets, the New X-Men, ‘The Trial of Magneto’ and More

Comic Books

Marvel reveals new superhero and mutant Somnus to be revealed in 'Marvel's Voices: Pride' #1 Marvel reveals new superhero and mutant Somnus to be revealed in 'Marvel's Voices: Pride' #1

Marvel reveals new superhero and mutant Somnus to be revealed in ‘Marvel’s Voices: Pride’ #1

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup