Valiant recently re-launched Shadowman in a new series by Cullen Bunn and Jon-Davis Hunt, and it’s an exciting blend of horror and superhero antics. Bunn spoke to AIPT on our Comics podcast to talk all about it, and the ideas and plans are exciting indeed. Shadowman #2 kicks off this week in comic book shops and it’s fairly new reader-friendly thanks to Baron Samedi’s opening recap, but also because Shadowman is on a specific mission.
If you’re a fan of horror, you’re going to love this issue. It opens with an incredibly creepy opening stinger involving a happy family — two kids and a mom and dad — who decide to pick up a hitchhiker. You can guess how this will turn sideways, but it goes in an entirely different and scary way. This cuts to Shadowman and Samedi exploring a broken-down town straight out of a Western, but it’s long been abandoned. It’s a town Shadowman is investigating due to the Deadside leaching into the real world.
Or more specifically, “The mortal world is a tapestry of cuts” and it’s here that the Deadside seeps through. Bunn’s captions add a creepy unnerving nature to the scene, which helps inform readers something very bad is about to happen while also setting up the larger world Shadowman is trying to police. Shadowman knows he needs to be there for the greater good, but Bunn does a good job supplying confusion for Shadowman and the reader to play out a mystery that’s not quite visible. Simply put, Shadowman is being manipulated, and finding out why and who is doing so is part of the fun.
There is, of course, great monster action to have too. This book is great at blending horrific imagery thanks to Hunt’s lines that also has a superhero big-action feel. Much of this book has Shadowman walking around an empty town, but Hunt keeps your interest up with cinematic angles and a questionable Samedi who is well designed and fun to look at. We’re as confused as Shadowman is with what is going on, which helps draw us into the art and narrative. Props to Hunt for designing a monster you’ve never seen before which is quite gross. The hulking beast takes on Shadowman in a way that moves left to right — and right to left — in exciting ways too.
One gripe I had with this issue is how it plays up the mystery, but doesn’t give us much beyond a haunting figure being behind it all. There isn’t enough here, or it’s not apparent enough to draw much of a conclusion or know where the story is going. The episodic nature of the story makes it sort of just end, which will make the next issue exciting since it could be set really anywhere, but the serial storytelling element falls a bit flat.
Shadowman #2 is a good second chapter that opens with a great horror stinger, calls back to it, and offers up plenty of monster action. The bigger mystery in play continues to be vague, but Shadowman himself is an intriguing figure well worth following along with.
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