With Valiant’s triumphant return to comics this year, it only seems right to lend a section of Back Issue Bin to some of their older titles. This month I give you a small taste with this review of Shadowman #1. In March we’re gonna fill the whole month with Valiant titles. Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Solar, and Harbingers. I think those are some of the most recognizable of Valiant’s universe, along with Bloodshot and Turok, both of which I’ve reviewed previously, and I also think it’ll give some of us that aren’t as into Valiant as others are a good introduction to the universe.
Shadowman was part of the first group of titles released by Valiant, along with the likes of Rai, Magnus, Solar and others. Whereas a lot of the other titles took place in the future or New York, Shadowman took place down in the deep south. New Orleans, Louisana.
It all starts with Jazz, or moreover, with Jack Boniface, a very talented Saxophone player. In New Orleans French Quarter, he plays to smoke filled rooms and watered down Whiskey. For two weeks though, this same woman has been coming into the bar. He watches her, but it’s something about her eyes… Deep as the Night he says. Sometimes she’ll leave with someone, but she’s always back the next night. Tonight it’s Jack’s turn to enjoy her company. Shortly thereafter he’s walking her home, and what turns out to be a night of passion ends up as the creation of Shadowman.
Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart write a pretty good story here. I think my favorite part of the entire plot had to be what was done in first person. Jack is drugged, and he has to sit there and watch helplessly as he is about to be murdered. Though that, and how he’s saved, it’s all done in first person. Honestly, I haven’t seen it done like that in any of the issues I’ve read. That was very creative and original, and I liked it. Though we don’t see any sort of resemblance to Shadowman until the very end of the issue, it was great to read everything that lead up to that. Master storytelling, with little action, can be just as fulfilling.
David Lapham’s pencils were a welcome sight. I’m so used to Valiant art being excessively stiff, but here, I didn’t get that vibe. It felt just a little more alive to me, a little more energetic. The city scenes were done very well, and facial expressions held. When they were supposed to look concerned, they did. When they were angry or stressed, it looked like that. Plenty of expression.
When I showed this issue to my brother Matt, the first thing he said was “If I saw that on the shelves, I think I’d pass it over.” I asked him why,to which he responded, ” The cover just doesn’t call out to me.” Could it really be that simple to pass up an issue based on the cover? At first glance, probably. After reading it? I can’t see how it could be so overlooked! When I look at the cover, I think mystery, suspense, and excitement. When I read the issue, I was almost disappointed that it was over. Everything that it built up to just kind of ended. It wasn’t even so much of a cliff hanger as it was just, well, done. He drifted into the shadows. It was a majestic ending to a first issue, but sometimes you just need a little more.
We’ve heard nothing on weather Shadowman will make his return to the Valiant Universe or not, but I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet. He’s one of their most recognizable characters, and he’s an original creation by them. It’s suspenseful, dark, mysterious, and exciting. Is it just like the French Quarter? I’ve never been there, but while I read this issue, it sure felt liked I’d been there my whole life. Hopefully he’ll have this same type of style when new issues come out. If not, well, we’ve always got the back issue then.
Parental Concern: Orange to Red for some sexual situations and graphic violence.