Shadowman #1 Advanced Review: Neo-Noir in New Orleans

One of Valiant’s best characters has always been the Voodoo infused Shadowman, and the first issue of his new series is a thrilling return.

The 1990s was an interesting era for comic books. While the comics of Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld and those who imitated him are frequently mocked, it would be disingenuous to say that those were the only type of comics coming out. One company that tried to set itself apart from the competition was Valiant comics. Though modern superhero fans probably know them for franchises like Turok and Bloodshot they were also responsible for creating more introspective characters like Shadowman. With Valiant’s Voodoo powered hero returning to comics in Shadowman #1, readers old and new alike have a wonderful new series to read.

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The series’ beginning by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jon Davis-Hunt works as a jumping-on point for anyone unfamiliar with the character. Jack Boniface (yes that is his real name) is the eponymous Shadowman. Much like Marvel’s Doctor Voodoo, Jack uses his Voodoo powers to defend the world against all types of creatures who don’t belong in our realm. This first issue sees him facing off against a rampaging monster looking for its companion who was dragged out of its home realm. Through this creature, Jack comes into conflict with a group of socialites attempting to contact demonic forces. To say they’re dealing with forces beyond their control would be an understatement.

Related: Who Are Quantum & Woody, Valiant Comics’ Superhero Brothers?

There is quite a bit about this first issue that makes it stand out, but one thing that’s immediately apparent is how little time it wastes. Every page in Shadowman’s return has action and every panel moves the story forward. In the hands of a lesser creative team, this would make the character and world hard to relate to. We don’t see Jack’s civilian life or even get a glimpse at much of his supporting cast beyond the death god helping him. Still though, Jack feels like a strong character based solely on his narration and actions. This whole issue is an effective hook to get readers on board for future issues.

Shadowman Featured Image

Don’t mistake this for mindless action though. Jack’s inner monologue has a neo-noir feel to it and adds a layer of introspection that makes this a cut above other action-heavy books. Even the demons invite a sort of twisted sympathy. The action itself is a standout. Davis-Hunt’s artwork is suitably macabre, emphasizing the grotesque nature of all the demons Jack faces.

Shadowman has always been a standout among Valiant’s heroes. Characters like Ninjak might have many strong stories, but still have premises that take a lot of work not to be silly. In comparison, Shadowman’s take on Voodoo feels fresh. It’s not just the premise that carries this first issue though. With Shadowman #1 Valiant reestablishes itself as one of the industry’s most interesting studios.

Look for Shadowman #1 when it releases on April 28th.

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