Can shadows really be alive or is Zadie going crazy? The haunting Shadecraft #1 ADVANCE REVIEW

Writing: Joe Henderson, Illustrations: Lee Garbett, Colours: Antonio Fabela, Letters: Simon Bowland.

Zadie’s life was starting to get back on track. She has two best friends, Josh and Kate (the only people who will actually talk to her), and that’s pretty much it. She was sister to the most popular kid in school, Ricky. Now he lives in a bedroom at home in a coma, where their mum does everything to ensure that he can come back to them.

One night walking home from school she jumps the gun and kisses Josh. He clearly does not feel the same way, so she runs off home. It’s at that point that Zadie realises that something is off about the shadows around her.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that it’s incredibly beautiful. The artwork is fantastic. The way that it plays with shadows was very reminiscent of the 1920s German expressionist cinema, as isn the looming sharp figures that are hiding around each corner, ready to attack Zadie. This however, exceeds the German expressionist films in the way it plays with light as well. There is a stunning panel where Zadie turns on a night light in her brother's room. At first glance, the shadow looks like a flower, which is interesting, as flowers usually aren’t dark but bright. However, when you look closer, the light is actually in the shape of a bird. This could be a reference to a phoenix, the bird of rebirth, which could play into the themes around her brother.

The writing is very interesting to me for a few reasons. The first being a fantastic way of introducing a character. We get the feeling that she is impulsive, a little naïve and also vulnerable. We quickly get a feel that things can get to her quickly. This can be evident by her reaction from her kissing Josh, which is to run away. This can also be seen in her home life. She feels pressure, as her brother, the popular kid at school, is in a coma, so there’s more of a spotlight on her. This leads onto the second really interesting thing about the book. The shadows could be a metaphor for her depression and her ability to cope with the situation with her brother. She feels that the shadows are trying to kill her, which is an analogy for her depression engulfing her. It’s only the light which was supplied in the book by her mother, then her phone which saved her from this. Again, this could be suggesting that to help battle the anxiety, she requires help from her family and friends, which are represented by the phone. The biggest hint of all is that it’s her brother who is helping her with her “demons.” This could be her way of dealing with her mental state, and then manifesting her brother into a hero to help as a coping mechanism for the tragedy which she has gone through.

I’ve always been a fan of landscape scenes, and the ones in this book are fantastic; they also tie nicely into the book's themes. These branches are reaching out towards her, again the analogy for depression, mixed with the dark scene as the fog comes in, portraying the confusion of everything that’s going on. Truly beautiful in a haunting way.

Overall I was really impressed with this first issue, how it sets up the characters well, and not overloaded with plot. It’s an intriguing start to what could be a great series, and I’m looking forward to how they deal with both the physical threats towards Zadie and the mental issues that’s she’s having to deal with.

Shadecraft issue 1 from Image Comics will be released on 31st March from your local comic shop as well as comixology

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