The GoodNo amount of praise will give proper credit to artist Patrick Zircher and colorist Brian Reber's work here. Yes, Justin Jordan and Zircher produce a fine script (I'll get to that next), but the visuals in this book steal the show. As expected, this world is incredibly dark, but Reber's colors bring so much depth to the pages. The vivid ghosts, the exuberant portal and the awesomely unique Mr. Twist (particularly with his classy suit) bring such a phenomenal contrast to the dim (yet exceptionally detailed) environments.
Zircher goes above and beyond with some of these panels. Seeing Jack use his blade on Twist is exciting and brutal. I want Twist to win, but seeing his head and body parts hacked off is just too damn enjoyable. You can feel the motion as the blade cuts through the villain -- it feels fluid and really makes the action scenes come to life. There's a superb Darkseid-esque panel of Master Darque towards the end of the book. I won't dive into spoilers, but it's a powerful and amazing panel which has me contemplating about what's to come.
Jordan and Zircher have done the impossible: they've made me really like characters in a fantasy book. This issue leaves me anxious to see more of the trio (Alyssa, Dox & Jack). They have seriously great chemistry together and all bring different yet engrossing personalities to the title.
These first four issues have done a stellar job of establishing a lot of interesting elements without weighing the book down with too much content. I want to see them train Jack, I want to see Jack discover more of his origin, I want to see how the greedy humans will respond, so on and so on. Jordan and Zircher have my full interest with this one. Don't you dare harm Jaunty, though!
The BadDespite a gripping panel, Master Darque felt uninspired to me. They did such a phenomenal job with Mr. Twist. He's such a cool character and brought such an engrossing personality to the table. Unfortunately, this made the main villain feel lackluster in comparison.
The VerdictSHADOWMAN delivers on every level. There's quite literally no legitimate reason why you shouldn't at least give it an honest chance. The script is solid, the characters are diverse and engaging, the visuals are astonishingly detailed, and the book is just downright fun. In my opinion, it's every bit as good as Valiant's other titles -- and as you likely know by now, I think the other titles are top-notch.
So, Valiant, when are you making a Jaunty plushie? It could possibly be the creepiest/most adorable thing ever!