On November 7th, Valiant relaunches their classic book SHADOWMAN for a whole new generation of readers. The original SHADOWMAN volume ran 43 issues and it ended in 1995. It's been 17 years since readers have a book starring this character, and Valiant introduces him in a whole new way.
As someone who is new to SHADOWMAN, my main fear was that this book would not be new reader friendly. At the same time, sometimes older books cater way too much to the new readers, which, in turn, can alienate die hard fans. The first issue of SHADOWMAN seems to have a great balance of both. Sure, it's a contemporary reboot to the character, but it offers enough new elements to keep old fans on board. If anything, the creators made this book a bit more contemporary while keeping a lot of the old concepts in tact.
The art in SHADOWMAN is beautiful. Patrick Zircher (art) and Brian Reber (color) compliment each other wonderfully. There's a fantastic amount of detail in facial features and clothing. You get a great sense of depth from their work. Another thing I found very interesting, which I missed on the first read through is the use of the negative space between panels. It jumps from solid white to solid black. I haven't figured out the meaning behind this, and it could be just coincidence, but I thought it was pretty cool and it helped keep each page new.
SHADOWMAN 1 has a fantastic opening. The reader is thrusted into action on some great looking pages. By page 6, the reader knows who the good guys and bad guys are, they know some of their powers, and they know what makes these characters tick. While it may seem a tad rushed, it flows incredibly well on the page. From there, the pace slows down as we meet the protagonist of the book, Jack Boniface. We are introduced to his life and his world. Writers Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher keeps the reader engaged from page one, which can be tough for a first issue when you have so much being thrown at you, all at once.
Shadowman's design is pretty awesome (above). It's a little bit Baron Samedi and a little bit covert-ops. It's a cool mixture and it works well. The same can be said for the incredibly creepy creature we meet here as well. Character design is pretty strong in this introductory issue.
The one thing this book misses on is a few instances of bad dialogue. One of the villains in this issue has fantastic dialect, pacing, and rhythm within his dialogue. He speaks very "preacher-like." It's threatening and pretty cool, until it all gets ruined with one line. It happens again towards the end of the issue where one line of cheesy dialogue ruins a whole scene for me.
I've really been anticipating this series, and it almost lives up to my expectations; however, my expectations were set incredibly high. SHADOWMAN 1 is a great addition to the Valiant world both in quality and enjoyment. It will fit right in with the rest of the titles. This book has a lot of great things going for it, like a great creative team and a very interesting cast of characters. I love the look and design of this character and book.
On the down side, I felt some of the dialogue came off as a bit cheesy, which ended up ruining a couple scenes for me. The dialogue felt out of place and extremely out of character.
Overall, I really enjoyed SHADOWMAN 1 and I highly recommend you give this book a shot when it hits shelves at your LCS on Wednesday, November 7th.