Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: John Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 28th July 2021
As demonic blights who walk upon this world go, Cullen Bunn’s monstrous creation for issue four of Shadowman surely must have disconcerted many within this comic’s audience with its unnerving ability to send both new-born babies and canine pets fatally mad with a psychedelic overdose. Of course, Bunn incorporates plenty of other disturbing sub-plots into the twenty-page periodical, not least of which is the titular character finally having a face-to-face confrontation with this ongoing series’ lead antagonist. But when boiled down, this book’s central premise is arguably based upon Jack Boniface’s battle against a pill-pushing junkie who takes far too much pleasure in giving his hapless victims a “trip to end all lifetimes.”
Thankfully for “mankind” however, this depraved killer who can transform a crawling toddler into a tentacle-faced hallucinogenic nightmares which even a mother couldn’t love, is soon confined to a London-based abandoned dwelling, and subsequently used as an opportunity to shed even more light upon the enthralling relationship between the titular character and his supposed supernatural benefactor, Baron Samedi. It’s abundantly clear that Boniface’s bony companion actually seems to relish misleading the Darque powered-champion from time to time. Yet on this particular adventure the loa of the dead readily admits previously playing Jack false for the sake of reassuring Jim Shooter’s co-creation that he is all-too serious in providing some assistance on this solemn occasion; “I’ve lied to you often and with great delight. But I’m telling the truth now. I did not know.”
Furthermore, Bunn’s narrative also takes a big step away from presenting Shadowman as simply a scythe-carrying super-hero who seems destined to thwart any Deadside incursions on an ever-repeating singular circle, by intriguingly having him finally realise the futility of just such an existence. Instead, it is made clear to both the skull-faced fighter and the reader, that matters are now far too advanced for such episodic interventions, and that a much larger, bolder strategy needs to be employed if humanity is not to be drowned out by the malicious magic of the man’s mysterious arch-nemesis.
Undoubtedly helping with this comic’s entertainment value are Jon Davis-Hunt’s layouts and Jordie Bellaire’s colours, which seem to be particularly relied upon towards the end of the book when an utterly delirious Boniface experiences the effects of the brazen blight’s mind-altering abilities up close and personal. Indeed, whether because Cullen desired to provide the illustrator with plenty of sheet-space with which to demonstrate his prodigious penciling, or due to this magazine’s storyline requiring some ‘extra padding’, the artist provides one of the highlights of this magazine by drawing two consecutive double-page splashes of Jack struggling to withstand an intoxicatingly deadly assault upon his senses.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]