Review – Shadowman: End Times #1 (of 3) (Valiant)

clickPublisher: Valiant Comics
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Release Date: 30th April 2014

Ah, the 90s. Remember them? Shadowman: End Times clearly does, as it feels like one of the most 90s comics I’ve read in recent times.

A child of the 90s comics boom, Shadowman is a bad-ass anti-hero with dark powers that can consume him like Al Simmons in Spawn or Jackie Estacado from The Darkness. What made Shadowman different (and dare I say, more interesting) was the way his story incorporated voodoo mythology into the familiar story beats. Unfortunately, Shadowman: End Times features muddled artwork and a fairly bland story, both of which are representative of some of the less enjoyable parts of 90s comic culture.

Since his father Josiah died, Jack Boniface has assumed the mantle of the dark loa infected crusader Shadowman. However, while his dad seemed to be able to keep the nastiness of the loa in check, Jack has struggled with his powers and seems to be losing control of himself. Yet, with the help of Alyssa, his new girlfriend, Jack seems to have things under control, until he starts sleepwalking and leaving his bed at night to go out on the hunt.

It’s a fairly cliche story, including such well worn ideas as troubled father/son relationships, the corrupting influence of power, and the redemptive capacity of the love of a good woman. The story is pedestrian at its best and boring at its worst and the dialogue is not much better. Conversations seem unnatural and filled with references to strange voodoo terminology like wangas and loa. It all feels quite laboured.

Compared to the art however, the writing is a masterclass. The character work is wildly inconsistent, to such an extent that the protagonist is indistinguishable from the rest of the cast (his ethnicity and hair colour is also hard to confirm) and the facial expressions on characters are so overblown as to be off-putting. It’s unsubtle and alienating, the stiff poses and exaggerated gestures are like someone has told the artist to crank it up to 11.

A boring story complemented with artwork that leaves a lot to be desired, Shadowman: End Times is badly executed in pretty much every department. Swerve this one unless you’re a voodoo priest.

Rating: 1/5.

The writer of this piece was: Joe Morrison
Joe is Freelance film journalist based in Glasgow.
You can also find Joe on Twitter.

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