Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: John Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 26th June 2021
It’s abundantly clear why Valiant Entertainment are already referring to Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt as a “bone-chilling team”, particularly if the collaborative creators’ work for issue two of Shadowman is anything to go by. Indeed, considering that this terrifying tale will probably wrong-foot many a bibliophile with the horrific outcome of just its opening sequence – a sequence which involves a seemingly harmless family foolishly stopping to ‘rescue’ a homicidal hitchhiker – there will doubtless be a timid few within the comic’s audience who will find themselves momentarily pausing before gingerly turning this title’s pages and casting their eyes upon the next instance of abject gruesomeness.
Happily however, the ghastly fate of those mortals foolish enough to be seeking transportation to the deserted town of Enoch in Arizona isn’t simply a gratuitously graphic affair just for the sake of it. Instead, it is used to show just how depressingly dark the appetite of the run-down settlement’s resident demon actually is, as well as the insane grisliness of the three-headed beast’s plan to use a festering pile of slaughtered corpses to seed a rift to the Deadside.
As a result, the sense of revulsion generated by the inhuman way the creature’s over-zealous minions tear apart their latest victim limb by limb is clearly intentional, and arguably allows the reader to experience the actual emotions which subsequently motivate the somewhat indifferent titular character to finally act; “The Shadow Loa bound to my soul ensures that I can’t be scared. I can feel disgust though. I can be affronted by the nastiness I encounter. This is where the ghosts come from. Brought here to open the gate. Carcasses wedged like doorstops to keep the passage between worlds open.”
Similarly as successful in generating a sympathetic response for some of the grotesque farmer’s victims is Davis-Hunt’s absolutely awesome illustrations, and the way the artist pencils a pair of thrice-damned, fang-faced children as disconcerting flesh-devouring terrors. In addition, the effect of Enoch’s location straddling such a delicately-balanced cross-section of the universe is extremely well visualised by Davis-Hunt, due to his panels constantly switching the municipality back and forth between its current-day depilated state and when it was previously a bit of a boom town.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]