The Valiant Comics series Shadowman returns with a new iteration to coincide with the release of Nightdive Studio’s Shadowman: Remastered, a revival of the enigmatic 1999 video game. This new entry into the Shadowman universe is written by Cullen Bunn of Harrow County and Venom fame with grisly art supplied by Jon Davis-Hunt. Shadowman #1 is available now both digitally and at local comic shops.
Jack Boniface is Shadowman, a hero with control over a powerful Shadow Loa, who protects Earth from demonic threats from just beyond the veil of our reality. When the infamous Death Loa Baron Samedi pulls Jack into a confrontation with demonically inclined elites, a doorway is thrown open into broader intrigue.
This series exists in a strange space, in that it’s a new series meant to coincide with a multimedia rerelease and which builds on the mythos of a long-running series. I hadn’t encountered any Shadowman media previously, so I can’t offer any comparison to the property overall. That being the case, my takeaway was that the first issue does a good job introducing the character and has a quick, rewarding little plot despite being a tad bit formulaic.
At the end of the day, Shadowman is a superhero, and while we can expect cool action-horror scenes and a great-looking book, the stakes feel pretty low even for a first issue. There’s plenty of room for the story to grow and with seasoned horror writer Cullen Bunn at the helm, I expect this series will hit its stride in time, but it’s really hard to blend superheroes and horror in a way that makes you fear for the protagonist or their surroundings. What this usually leads to is a “rule of cool” protagonist who just sort of quips his way through cool monster fights– there’s definitely an audience for that kind of thing, but I’d like just a bit more than that in terms of characters. There’s a vague hint to the broader hook at the very end of the issue, but I didn’t feel like it was quite enough on its own to make me want to read more.
The highlight of Shadowman #1 is definitely the art and creature designs. Jack’s minimalist Shadowman look is cool and has an interesting profile, and the same can be said for Baron Samedi. The monsters feel unique and strange, they’re actually pretty disgusting and artist Jon Davis-Hunt handily avoids the more common demon tropes. The color palette is heavily slanted towards reds, greens, and yellows, which allows for some great lighting effects and powerful, eye-catching contrasts; last but not least, there are a few fun shots of gore if that’s your fancy. All told, while the character himself feels a bit flat at the moment, Shadowman #1 does have a lot to offer visually and in small turns of storytelling.
Rating 7 out of 10 Missed Gigs