Valiant's Shadowman reboot has over a dozen issues, and if you've fallen behind (it's okay, I'm right there with you), there's an understandable amount of hesitation when it comes to jumping into an all-new mini-series about the character. However, if there's one thing writer Peter Milligan sets out to accomplish with this new issue, it's to make sure it's new reader friendly. Not only do we have one of Valiant's thorough recap pages, but the whole first chapter feelslike a first installment. Many of the pages are dedicated to reminding us who characters are, what has occurred, and, of course, the big premise for this series is saved for the very end. While Milligan takes the necessary steps to establish the supporting cast, this is first and foremost a character study of Jack Boniface and his relationship with the Loa. This issue doesn't do all that much to be particularly compelling -- perhaps because it has to address so many things -- but the final twist does have potential for an interesting direction.
A fair amount of artist Valentine De Landro and David Baron's coloring does a solid job establishing this book's unique world. Bold shades often spill throughout an entire panel, and the strong use of a specific color is a cool way of selling the tone of the scene. For example, the initial (and violent) twist is heavy with reds, but then blues begin to work their way in once the scene settles and cools down. Little touches like this really add more weight to these moments. De Landoro's characters are loaded with shading which, again, is a good style for the genre. Nothing here is "scary," but you can appreciate the effort that's made to embrace the book's horror-esque vibe.
While I do enjoy a good amount of the artwork, a lot of the characters come off as especially rigid. Even when someone is getting struck or being knocked out a window, there's a lack of motion and force behind it. You can't help but feel like a lot of the moments are very static.
I'll be blunt: this is off to a pretty slow start. I don't mind slower pacing if it's done very well, but with this issue, it almost feels like Milligan plays it a little too safe by catering to new readers instead of also moving forward. And when we do finally get hit by a big development, it's countered by a line that came off as unnatural. It's almost like a villain shaking their fist and exclaiming, "I'll get you next time, hero! I swear it!"
When Valiant launches a premiere issue, expectations go up and understandably so. The publisher usually does an exceptional job grabbing my attention with its debut issues, but this one doesn't have quite the same amount of allure as the others do. Yes, it leaves me curious to see where it'll go next and it has mostly satisfying visuals, but heavy exposition and a slow set of developments prevent this one from truly pulling me into its fictional world. It's not a bad first chapter, but it doesn't pack the kind of punch we've come to expect from a first issue by Valiant, either.