Written by: Cullen Bunn, Art by: Jon Davis-Hunt, Colours by: Jordie Bellaire.
Jack Boniface is a musician from New Orleans. He has a power passed down through his lineage, through a voodoo spirit called Shadow Loa. He is one of only a few people who can protect the Earth against the evils from the Deadside (another realm). His alter ego gives him reduced fear, enhanced strength, endurance and reflexes, as well as other voodoo powers. He is….Shadowman.
The veil between the Deadside and Earth is diminishing, letting all sorts of evils out to roam our world. Jack, with a little help from Baron Samedi, is determined to find out why. This leads them to a cult party who are wanting to cross over themselves. They know too much about what to do... has someone taught them? What else could have been let through the veil?
Shadowman was not a character that I was very familiar with, so I did actually do some research. Originally seen in X-O Manowar in 1992, Shadowman got his own named series that same year. Here we have a new number 1 and a new start for the character. Now despite not knowing too much about the character, it’s clear to me that Cullen Bunn is a good choice to write Shadowman. Bunn is known for his horror comics like Harrow County and Death Follows, so he is a perfect choice to tackle a cross-dimensional hero who deals with demonic monsters.
This first issue is so well -written and planned out, that even if I wasn’t told in the opening description that this was set in New Orleans, then I would have guessed it straight away by the way that music seems to be a big part of people’s lives, and then by the architecture of the buildings. As this is my first issue dealing with the character, I felt like this was a strong start. Setting up exactly who Jack is and what he has to deal with. Bunn even does something that is truly amazing, he makes us feel guilt and remorse for one demon who was chained up by the cult. The demon cries to Jack, asking him if he’s here to rescue him. Knowing where he came from and partially what he looks like, we shouldn’t pity him, but the close-up of his tearful eye as he explains what the cult did to him, as he begs for Jack to “rescue” him from our world makes us feel it. This shows off how Bunn can humanise even the most monstrous, proving that he is still one of the great comic book writers of our time.
From the perspective of the art, this was a beautiful first issue. I love how Jordie Bellaire has used more muted colours, which gives a more eerie look to the book. These pastels also help the blood seem more highlighted when it’s in frame, creating more of a shock value that you’d need for a horror book.
I also really enjoyed how Jon Davis-Hunt uses the full page, even the borders, as you can see above. He utilises all available space, which adds to the mystic nature of the book. We even get some panels within a larger picture, which I adore, and brings characters to life by having them larger than “normal.”
Overall, I was really impressed by this issue. Although I did a small amount of research into the character, I don’t feel it’s necessary for newcomers, as I believe enough information is given to make it accessible to new readers.
Shadowman issue 1 from Valiant Comics will be released on 28th April from your local comic shop as well as comixology