By Andy Diggle, Stephen Segovia, Ulises Arreola
Jack’s back! Valiant Entertainment’s creative team breathes new life into a character bound to the land of the dead in this absorbing debut.
The long-awaited return of Shadowman is finally here and proves to be an excellent addition to the saga. This much-anticipated debut of the new series is the first ongoing for the character since the previous volume ended in 2014. The character has made some notable appearances in other titles leading up to this debut, including a stand-alone book featuring musical duo Rae Sremmurd. Fans will be pleased to discover that writer Andy Diggle brings Shadowman back into the fold without sacrificing story continuity or character integrity.
That’s not all he’s brought back. Classic elements from the original ‘90s title (as well as the 2012 incarnation) are in the mix, including a return to New Orleans and voodoo. There’s even a nod to the musical history of the character.
What’s different about this title from the last volume is the stronger focus on character development. Diggle seems to be exploring the characters themselves. We are reintroduced to the main characters – Jack Boniface and Alyssa Myles – in a manner that makes it easy to comprehend for both new readers and established fans. Diggle has retained Jack’s personality and nature, but he’s offering readers more – expounding on the effect of the loa on Jack. We’re given insight into Jack’s mental state and his regrets for his previous actions. Similarly, Alyssa is more relatable. It takes only a few panels to intuit Alyssa’s personality: what she places value on and the lengths she will go to protect. In short, Diggle is giving readers a sense of who these characters are rather than what they are.
That’s not to say that this book is merely a character piece. There’s plenty of action from the start. But rather than the story focus being on defeating an enemy, the battles here are with outside forces and internal ones, as Jack struggles to work with his loa while taking on the new dangers in New Orleans. The story captures the imagination with its supernatural elements and the intrigue threaded throughout the narrative. Diggle is introducing a sense of mystery as Jack tries to determine what and who his loa truly is, and who he himself is now because of it.
Artist Stephen Segovia and colorist Ulises Arreola round out the creative team. Segovia’s storytelling style is clear and straightforward, making for smooth flow and easy reading. His depictions of Jack and Alyssa have emotional heft, especially those scenes where Jack’s contriteness is on full display. His actions scenes are exciting, and original art collectors will have plenty of good pages to chase. Colorist Ulises Arreola adds tangibility and realism to the piece with his colors, which aids in reader emersion. His color work in relation to magic and veves heightens the drama of the action.
This is an all-around enjoyable book. Its only flaw is a misprint on the credit page. Colorist Arreola’s name is spelled as “Arreloa” – which given the subject matter, one could almost imagine was done on purpose. This review is based on an advanced electronic copy, so perhaps this error doesn’t appear in the printed version. Regardless, it doesn’t affect the outstanding quality of the writing and artwork.
Shadowman #1 brings back one of Valiant Entertainment’s beloved characters. Good pacing, thoughtful characterizations, and a dash of mystique along with excellent physical storytelling make Shadowman #1 an essential read.