SHADOWMAN #1/ Script by CULLEN BUNN/ Art by JON DAVIS-HUNT/ Color Art by JORDIE BELLAIRE/ Letters by CLAYTON COWLES/ Cover by JON DAVIS-HUNT/ Variant Covers by ROD REIS, DAVE JOHNSON, TONY MOORE & JEFF DEKAL/ Published by VALIANT ENTERAINMENT
Jack Boniface is a New Orleans native, a musician and a sort-of superhero. Known as Shadowman, Jack is heir to the power of the Shadow Loa – a powerful Voodoo spirit that gives him a command of elemental darkness, among other powers. But those powers come with a price and it is Jack’s duty to use his powers to protect the world from demons, the undead and other evils, no matter how much it gets in the way of his music career.
I must admit that I’m largely ignorant of the Valiant Comics universe. As such, I’ve never read any of the critically acclaimed (by critics besides myself) Shadowman comics of yesteryear. And had it not been for the creative team involved, I might not have given this series a chance either. I’m not overly fond of the Dark Age of Comics and the general idea of “horrific heroes” who use the powers of darkness to strike a blow for the forces of light. That sort of thing has been done to death and done better by Hellboy and Halloween Man.
Thankfully, Shadowman is a damn good book.
The concept of a voodoo hero isn’t terribly original, but Cullen Bunn does a masterful job of introducing us to Jack Boniface and establishing who he is and what his powers are. The story is the classic Peter Parker scenario – giving up what’s personally important to save people, because power requires responsibility, etc. Standard fare for a first issue, but Bunn keeps the story lively despite the obvious tropes and works some honest suspense into the story.
What truly makes this comic stand out is the artwork. Those who are familiar with Jon Davis-Hunt’s work on previous horror series (such as the all-too-brief Clean Room) won’t be surprised to find him in fine form here. Few artists showcase the skill Davis-Hunt does in depicting vivid details with intricate line-work and thick inks without drowning their pages in darkness and obscuring the fine points of their artwork. It helps that Jordie Bellaire’s color art adds the perfect highlights to Davis-Hunt’s work, so that the full frightful spectacle of the story is clearly depicted. The lettering by Clayton Cowles is also top-notch, with Jack’s narration and dialogue both clearly differentiated with unique balloon styles and coloring.
I can’t speak to how fans of the original series will feel about it, but I enjoyed Shadowman #1 immensely. The setting is unique enough to spark interest and genre enthusiasts who like dark anti-heroes will embrace Jack Boniface. The artwork is simply fantastic and the story engaging enough to bear further reading.
Shadowman #1 releases on April 28, 2021.