Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Pedro Andreo
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 19th January 2022
As the beginning of an “all-new arc” goes, Cullen Bunn’s disconcertingly distressing opening to issue five of Shadowman certainly ticks all the boxes for its New York-based publisher’s wish list to making “the best fans on the planet the best stories that will pull them into the Valiant [Entertainment] universe…” Indeed, the notion of a truly desperate child inadvertently raising a hungry horde of the Undead whilst using a spell to reincarnate his beloved mother from a local gravesite is superbly penned, and genuinely provides this comic with a chilling, yet highly emotional, start to its story-telling; “They told me how to bring you back. And look — you brought friends.”
Intriguingly, the Cape Fear-born writer also manages to use this highly engaging twenty-page periodical’s plot to throw some light on Jack Boniface’s private life as a simple musician from New Orleans. Alyssa’s evident admiration for the titular character’s skill with a sweet-sounding saxophone demonstrates that there is clearly more to Jim Shooter’s co-creation than a Darque powered super-hero who mindlessly battles grotesquely-shaped blights. The current Shadow Loa host clearly has both the discipline and passion to play his woodwind instrument with impressive gusto, and it therefore makes for a pleasant, momentary change of pace to see Jack basking in the cheering crowd’s applause following his successful stage performance.
In stark contrast however, this book’s final third is debatably a bit of a choppy, somewhat lack-lustre affair, which seemingly promises much and then delivers little apart from plenty of dialogue-filled word balloons. The notion of Boniface travelling to the Deadside to confront a literal army of multi-eyed, heavily-tentacled nightmares whilst armed with his deadly demonic scythe sounds like the recipe for a pulse-pounding fracas of the highest order. But lamentably, all Bunn’s narrative actually provides is Shadowman apparently trying to negotiate a peace-deal with his eternal enemies from Hell because he’s grown tired of killing them.
Fortunately, Pedro Andreo’s artwork definitely helps the reader negotiate such a surprisingly sedentary discourse, and undeniable adds some tremendous pathos to the aforementioned scene where a naïve infant son is briefly reunited with his dead mother. In fact, the Spanish illustrator’s exemplary handling of that deeply sad meeting, and the unsurprising consequence of Shadowman having to then cut down many a brain-eating cadaver afterwards when they attack some nearby hapless civilians, are easily the visual highlights of this comic.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]