By Eliot Rahal and Renato Guedes
Just in time for Halloween, Valiant resurrects Shadowman for a one-off special. Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd #1 is a beautifully depicted stand-alone story that offers a glimpse into Shadowman’s life in the Deadside.
Valiant’s Shadowman hasn’t had a ongoing title since 2014. Like the character himself, Shadowman was in limbo. Readers craving their Shadowman fix had a long wait before making due with the appearance of a future Shadowwoman loa in the 4001 event. Later, in Ninjak’s “Operation Deadside” arc, we finally discover what became of Jack Boniface. Since then, he’s appeared in the Rapture mini and is expected to launch a new title this spring. Four years is a long time for fans to wait. In the interim, Valiant used Rapture to reintroduce the character and give readers a sense of his headspace. This new one-off starring hip hop duo Rae Sremmurd gives us another look into his life.
Writer Eliot Rahal gives us a solid self-contained piece that fits in the Valiant universe continuity. Given the relative isolation of the events, meaning that they don’t impact the larger universe, it’s difficult to determine the exact timing of the events. Judging by Shadowman’s appearance and demeanor, as well as clues to Rae Sremmurd’s musical releases, readers can approximate the story’s time to after “Operation Deadside.” Don’t let the lack of universe consequence deter you from this book – it’s still an entertaining piece about “a day in the life”.
Music has always been a component of Shadowman. Fans of the ’90s Shadowman will recall his close association with jazz. New Orleans, voodoo, and jazz music were hallmarks of the title. That era’s Shadowman went on to do a crossover with Aerosmith. It’s fitting that the modern era Shadowman does the same, this time with an updated hip hop flair. The modern era has not been as closely associated with music despite its New Orleans setting and voodoo references. Other than a nod to the jazz roots with the appearance of a saxophone, this story gives Jack his strongest tie to music, starting with the classic fable of the deal with the devil. Rahal takes it all the way back to the original crossroads story of blues musician Robert Johnson. Fellow Mississippians Rae Sremmurd repeat history.
Magic isn’t the only thing Rahal and artist Guedes have up their sleeves. As shown in the previews (no spoilers here), Dr. Mirage joins the cast. She’s a welcome addition and a logical partner in this adventure. She also plays the “feed” to Rahal’s clever tongue-in-cheek references to music and the devil.
Since this is a one-off story and Rae Sremmurd are actual artists, it’s safe to assume that readers know how this one will end. Despite this, Rahal manages to keep the story fresh, making updated twists to a classic tale. Witnessing the camaraderie between Jack and Dr. Mirage as well as his deeper understanding of the Deadside is another plus. Jack has changed from the angry and volatile young man he once was. It will be interesting to see how this newfound maturity affects his story going forward.
Artist Renato Guedes does a stunning job of bringing the story to life. The painted artwork looks like watercolor, with layers of color creating depth and texture. There is an airiness and softness to his work that lends itself well to the ethereal environs of the Deadside. Unexpected perspectives make even non-action panels interesting. The action scenes are done well, with easy-to-follow movement and focus as well as spot-on interpretation of sound effects.
Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd #1 spirits into shops on October 4th. Glorious art and an updated classical tale make this book a Halloween treat.