Saturday, 27 July 2013

Shadowman, Volume 1: Birth Rites by Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher review

Jack Boniface is a young man trying to find out who his parents were and why they left him as a child, abandoning him with only a strange medallion. Now living in New Orleans after drifting for a few years, he finds out that his parents were criminals and out of anger throws his medallion into the sea. Little did he realise the medallion was protecting him from supernatural dark forces that have been looking for him for years. With his protection discarded, those dark forces are on their way to claim Jack’s untapped power for their own – but also racing to his side are the forces of good to reveal his powers to him and show Jack that he is… Shadowman!

This is my first experience with the character of Shadowman and only my second Valiant book but I understand the company and its characters go back to the 90s and have a rich history. What brought me to this title was Justin Jordan, a writer whose work on The Strange Talent of Luther Strode blew me away with how good it was. Jordan remains a solid bet as Shadowman is another superbly written book.
On the face of it, this is the kind of story that feels generic and ordinarily would have me rolling my eyes or checking to see how many pages were left before I could drop it and move on, but because Jordan is such a brilliant writer, he turns this story into something I really cared about. It’s uncanny because a dark and supernatural story where the superhero is dressed like death and wielding a scythe isn’t what I’m looking for in comics but in the hands of this talented writer? It’s exactly what I want.
Moreover, there was a lot about the story I didn’t quite get, like what the Deadside is – is it heaven, hell, purgatory, another world? – or who Shadowman is – is he Death? What is the relevance of the Loa? Does he have other powers besides the scythe? Talking monkeys? – or background characters’ motivations, his parents’ backgrounds, etc. Not coming away with a strong enough impression of any of these would ordinarily bother me and make me mark it down, but the book really draws you in and involves you in the world in such an immediate way that those things didn’t bother me in the slightest. Justin Jordan is that good.
Paired with superb artist Patrick Zircher, who makes the story look really good, and you’ve got a great first volume that’s accessible for new readers like me who don’t know the character at all but also for anyone looking for an interesting horror comic. Valiant is schooling DC on how to do supernatural comics right - Shadowman is what Constantine or Justice League Dark should be. Graphic demonic violence, an excellent cast, great writing and art, Shadowman, Volume 1: Birth Rites is a brilliant comic.

Shadowman Volume 1: Birth Rites

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