Shadowman Deluxe Book 1 (2014 Hardcover Review, Valiant Comics)
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist(s): Patrick Zircher
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Release Year: 2014
In 1989 comic book creators Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, Barry Windsor-Smith, David Lapham and others started Valiant Comics and created such superheroes as Ninjak, Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Bloodshot and my favorite, Shadowman. Unfortunately the comic boom in the ‘90s was not enough to keep Valiant viable, so they were forced to shut their doors. But in 2012, the company was rebooted and since then they have received critical acclaim. In 2018 the company was bought by media and entertainment giant DMG and has since signed with Sony Pictures.
The Valiant universe covers a wide range of genres including action (Bloodshot), sci-fi (X-O Manowar) and yes, even comedy (Archer & Armstrong). But the title that has always been closest to my heart is their horror character, Shadowman. In the restarted mythology, Shadowman is a supernatural mantle passed down through generations in the Boniface family. The entity is called a “loa”, a god in the voodoo religion of Haiti, or in this case, New Orleans. The loa bonds with the men of the Boniface family to help them fight the forces of evil.
Jack Boniface is the new lucky recipient of the powerful entity since his father Josiah (the Shadowman from the ‘90s) was killed battling an evil being named Master Darque. Originally Jack’s parents didn’t want him to bear the responsibility, so they gave him a talisman that protected him from any supernatural beings, including the loa and forces set to destroy it. But ol’ Jackie boy is all grown up and angry at his parents for leaving him, so he chucks the necklace into the river, opening himself up for the entity, Master Darque and a couple of magic welders, Dox and Alyssa to sense him.
He is quickly attacked by two police officers who are possessed by a monster named “Mr. Twist” who is one of Darque’s minions who he created out of dead bodies. With the help of Dox and Alyssa, Boniface is able to fend off the demons and get back to safety… or so they think. They captured a small parasite from the policeman’s body that allows Twist to teleport past their defenses. Once again they escape, but this time to a place called the “Deadside” where they meet a skull-faced monkey named Jaunty who is sort of a guide through the mysterious place. From there, the battle with Twist and Darque begins and Jack’s life is about to be changed forever.
This huge 300+ page book runs through the first ten issues (as well as issue #0) of Shadowman’s return. There is a lot of story here written by the super talented Justin Jordan (creator of the Luther Strode series) and gorgeous art by superstar artist Patrick Zircher, who has worked on the biggest titles for DC, Marvel and more. When I first picked up this title a couple of years ago, I didn’t even know Valiant had rebooted (I was out of the comic game for a while) and I—being a horror fan—was drawn to this book. It has everything; evil magic-wielding demi-gods, demons, voodoo, secret magical organizations and of course a tortured, violent hero and his hottie love interest.
I was really surprised by how great this book is. At the time, I didn’t even know who Justin Jordan was but in reading this deluxe edition, he and Zircher created something, er, magical. This particular edition collects their entire run on the series and adds more than 20 pages of extras including the original single covers, character designs, and process art, as well as issue #0 which, interestingly, tells the origin story of Master Darque. Do not sleep on this chapter in the book. It is written by Jordan but mixes up the artists to include Roberto de la Torre, Mico Suayan, Lewis LaRosa and Neil Edwards. Darque may be one of my favorite villains, mostly due to this issue and how it rounds him out as a character.
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