Change can be a good thing. The good news for fans of Valiant’s Shadowman is that they haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Industry veteran Peter Milligan got the nod to take over writing duties and has done a nice job of creating a fresh storyline that maintains continuity with the past 12 issues yet provides a good entry point for new readers. Jack Boniface is still learning to deal with the burden he inherited from a father he never knew. Dox is still dead as a doornail. Alyssa is still sassy and doing her best to keep Jack out of trouble. The new twist is that the Abettors, tasked with training the Shadowman, have decided he has to pay for his role in Dox’s death and Jack has decided he wants out of the Shadowman job altogether. Milligan’s use of an ex-pat punk rocker that channels Sid Vicious as her spirit guide was a great twist on the traditional New Orleans voodoo witch archetype. Thank God for British writers! Roberto de la Torre’s linework and David Barron’s colors are in step with the dark swamps and grim New Orleans alleyways that frame this world. I liked this book before this change and I’m still on board. If only all transitions in life could be this smooth.
While most of the new plot lines are pretty firmly based in established terrain, I found the re-invention/envisioning of Jack’s violent past and murderous streak a bit jarring. Even the month of preview spoilers of this (and the punker witch character) tacked at the end of every Valiant books last month didn’t help. It seems that the Shadowman loa has something to do with Jack’s bouts of homicidal, amnesiac narcolepsy. If he can’t work this out, a wander to the local mental health clinic or maybe a good ol’ fashioned Catholic exorcism may be in order. Hopefully Milligan has plans for this as this arc matures. If not, this could put a serious blemish on an otherwise solid effort.
Milligan and crew have kept the past as they take us along in the next chapter of Jack Boniface’s tribulations as the Shadowman. Although Jack’s future is uncertain, this book’s place on my pull list remains safe.
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