Then the announcements came last spring. Four titles would relaunch the Valiant Universe. Shadowman was not one of them. I was shocked. This was one of Valiant’s best known properties (thanks to two successful video games). The Summer of Valiant brought some great comics. But I was still missing the Big Easy’s nighttime crusader. So I was thrilled when Valiant announced that their fifth ongoing series would be Shadowman.
Shadows Fall, Shadowman Rises
Any anxiety I had that my favorite Valiant character was not going to fare well was quickly extinguished by the quality of Valiant’s new comics. All of the new series have been strongly written and have had fantastic art. This new Shadowman comic makes Valiant 5 for 5 . As I said back when I reviewed X-O Manowar #1, Valiant is thinking big, but not rushing anything. The story, co-written by Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher, burns slow. They give us background on the story of Shadowman, but leave questions unanswered. Many of the same concepts of the original Valiant series have been kept in place. It is also the first series to really use elements of the Acclaim Comics era, that being the necromantic universe known as the Deadside. But like the other comic books in the Valiant Universe, this is a new beginning.
Jack Boniface here is not a jazz musician, at least not that we have seen yet. He is younger. He is also not the first Shadowman we meet. We discover he is only the latest in a line of hosts for something dark. Whatever it is, it does seem to keep even darker forces away. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of another comic book hero named Jack, Jack Knight. Knight, aka Starman is another personal favorite character of mine. Like Starman, he is a hero of the night. But unlike Knight, Shadowman doesn’t seek to be a light in the darkness. Shadowman is the darkness. Also like Starman, this Jack unexpectedly inherits his father’s mantle and powers. An inheritance he doesn’t want. He loses his mother early in his life. That is where the similarities seem to end. Boniface never knows his father. He knows nothing about what his father was. Jack’s mother did everything she could to protect him from his birthright.
When we meet Jack Boniface, he’s trying to find out who he is. He needs to know more about the parents he never really knew. He wants to know where he came from. It’s almost as if his legacy is calling to him. But even when he finds out who they were (or what the world thought they were) it still leads him to the deeper truths.
Besides co-writing, Zircher is also doing the art, which is amazing. This book has a different sensibility than most of the other Valiant titles. It’s dark, mystical nature is a bit out of tune with the very technological, science driven books. Zircher does an amazing job of blending the fantastic with the mundane. Having done variant covers for all the Valiant titles has helped him connect this new title to the look and feel of the Valiant Universe as a whole. He has updated Shadowman’s look. But the character, and his nemesis, Master Darque, are both easily recognizable. The book has a delightfully macabre vibe, you’ll know what I mean when you meet Mr Twist. He is the first of what is sure to be many horrific demons that will keep readers up at night.
Valiant has big plans for Shadowman. A Shadowman film is already in the works. Announced during NYCC, Sean Daniel (The Mummy) will be producing and J. Michael Straczynski has already turned in a script. (Which my sources tell me is amazing) You can be sure that they are looking to make this book just as cinematic in it’s scope.
Jordan and Zircher are off to great start getting Shadowman out of the shadows.