Valiant Entertainment 2018
Written by Andy Diggle
Illustrated by Stephen Segovia
Coloured by Ulises Arreola
Lettered by Simon Bowland
Unbeknownst to him, Jack was fated to become the next in a long lineage of Shadowmen – mortals bound to violent voodoo spirits of immense power – that could safeguard our world against incursions from realms beyond. For years, he struggled to control the loa's murderous urges – a battle he eventually lost. But now, after years of self-imposed exile, the man once known as Shadowman is returning home to sharpen the weapon within…and unleash a reckoning on the evils of our world that will soon send shockwaves through heaven and hell alike…
I have been waiting for this for what feels like forever. That Jack never wanted this and fought every step of the way has led him through every part of journey leading up to this series. Part of me loves that he doesn’t see things that way and that Alyssa has had to deal with all of it, including his leaving well part of me loves that as well. Now the how and why of the particulars is going to be discussed between the Jack and Alyssa and we start that here because you have to. Andy understands better than most what it means to write a magical based book and his tenure at Vertigo is proof of that so this this is right up his alley.
The way this book is structured is marvellous to see and that there’s as much time spent on characterisation as there is on story & plot development makes my heart sing. There is so much backstory with this series even before the first issue came out, from his last run through the time he spent in the Deadside and how Ninjak and Black Mambo found him there really is a lot of ground to cover. It isn’t just him either as we see Alyssa’s involvemet here. While she’s a no-brainer to be in these pages there is just so much between her and Jack that will need resolution. That too is at the core of the book and intertwine that with Jack dealing with his alter ego and the forces out to get him and you’ve the making of a smash hit.
Stephen’s interior artwork here really is pure joy to see. The man has quite the portfolio and he knows his way around the pages, the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective show off just how strong his eye is. His attention to detail and the way he utilises backgrounds keep the reader involved and the eye roaming. The use of varying linework and how they can be subtle or bold and everywhere in-between takes your classic comic book style and ramps it up to a level all it’s own. Plus he’s got Ulises colouring his work, and his eye for light sources, or the showcasing of power all of it just makes the perfect compliment.
Unlike many other books one has to be familiar with the Voodoo religion and all that entails or it won’t come across as authentic. Trust me too we’ll know, yes we live in a google age, so the research done to make this what it is is amazing to see. Add in the manifestation of Loa and the creatures that inhabit the spectrum and you’ve got this wonderfully untapped world open for business. From the Grinder of Bones, Veve, Gris-Gris and more what Andy is bringing to this should open eyes to people that Voodoo isn’t a cult or something to make zombies it’s a verifiable religion complete with it’s own mythology.
Shadowman holds a unique place among the heroes of this universe and from the onset it looks like Andy has his finger on the pulse of what needs to be done. I look forward to seeing what is next because the writing, interior artwork and the overall presence this book commands.