Shadowman has come out of the gate swinging, leaning heavily into horror but never forgetting the superhero underneath. The second issue had one of the most captivating opening cold opens in 2021, showing how good writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jon Davis-Hunt are at drawing your attention in. This week, issue #3 arrives in comic shops and features Shadowman going toe to toe with an enemy that’s even more his foil than in previous issues.
This issue opens with Shadowman being chased. He’s scared, wounded, and in a position we don’t normally see him in. Enter a Loa who really wants Shadowman dead. This opening works very well at capturing Shadowman’s rare fear and the threat at hand thanks to some slick layout design and great pencils by Davis-Hunt. He gets his butt kicked, and over eight small panels at the top of the page we feel that. This leads to a mysterious man at the end of an alleyway and the hook for an issue that flashes back to another time and place.
This issue cuts from Barcelona to Port-au-Prince to show how some events where Shadowman did some detective work may have led to his imminent death. There’s a larger mystery at work here about who the spirits of the afterlife spilling into our reality are, and the crosscutting between these locations helps add action and conflict with the exposition and reveals. Both scenes build towards a stakes-raising cliffhanger that propels Shadowman to a brand new level of danger to be thwarted.
The pacing of this issue is quick, as Davis-Hunt uses smartly timed smaller panels to slow things down and good layouts to speed things up at opportune times. That’s helpful since a chunk of this issue is exposition-heavy. Davis-Hunt’s art is as detailed as ever and it works splendidly to reveal a monstrous Loa that’s like a cousin to Slimer. There’s also a cool supervillain that that’s designed like a combo of Rob Zombie and a satanic cult.
Props to Jordie Bellaire for making the new villain’s powers come alive with a misty red, which seems to mirror Shadowman’s misty shadows. I also can’t get over the details in Samedi’s costume which really makes him pop in every scene.
In a world where Shadowman fights against spirits of all sorts, this issue is a good example of how disgusting monsters and superhero work can blend very well. Shadowman takes a beating in this issue, but it’s clear he has weapons up his sleeve we can’t anticipate. Some of the Samedi drama went over my head — there seem to be mysteries afoot we can’t really understand — and we’ve only learned so much about these characters so far.
Shadowman #3 increases the stakes tenfold while revealing Shadowman is very capable of getting beaten. The implications of the ending are so huge I dare you to not want Shadowman #4 as soon as possible. This series continues to expand on the legacy of the character with a strong visual aesthetic.
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