Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: John Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 23rd June 2021
Featuring the titular character receiving a serious smackdown by a mysterious “sinister undertaker” during its opening sequence, Cullen Bunn’s script for Shadowman #3 must have instantly gripped its readers by providing enthralling look at just how disconcertingly tenuous the physical link between a Loa and their all-too mortal human host can be. In fact, long-term fans of Jim Shooter’s co-creation will probably struggle to recollect another storyline in which Jack Boniface’s unearthly powers are so sorely tested as they are in this terrifying tour of Barcelona’s streets and maze-like alleyways.
To begin with, a surprisingly vulnerable Shadowman is depicted as being on his back foot just from the moment the action-packed adventure starts, courtesy of the supernatural defender somehow being poisoned by his fast-paced pursuers’ ethereal blows. Coupled with the sudden loss of the hero’s trademark scythe, plus the subsequent depiction of Boniface’s alter ego taking another over-the-top beating, and everything about this comic’s pulse-pounding plot would seem to suggest that an understandably fearful lead protagonist is about to meet his final end; “In his eyes. I see something. For him, this is not an evil act. No. He wants to kill me because he sees me as an evil thing.”
This compelling hook is made all the more irresistible by Bunn’s brilliant inclusion of several harrowing scenes which show some of Jack’s impressively-skilled peers already falling victim to the Pallbearer’s deadly assaults. The violent beheading of Spain’s keeper of secrets proves especially persuasive as an indicator of the lank-haired killer’s lethal abilities, and it is arguably hard not to feel a modicum of sympathy for the shaking, floating Loa as it realises that its own death is at hand, yet still tries to buy itself additional life by trading gossip and lesser known confidences with its invisible assailant.
Adding much in the way of visual excitement to these quite shocking shenanigans are Jon Davis-Hunt’s superb panels, which serve to both instantly entrap any perusing bibliophile into the masters of terror’s well-imagined world, and then carry them off on a truly disturbing journey across the Shadowman’s domain. Boniface’s battle against the Pallbearer provides a perfect example of this top tier penciling by demonstrating the rapier-quick attacks of the Pallbearer’s Loas one minute, and then the sheer ineffectiveness of Jack’s physical punches upon an utterly unmoving foe in the next.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]