The 90’s were an interesting time for the comic book industry. Not only did we see the emergence of talented artists and creators such as Todd McFarlane (Spawn), Jim Lee (Wildstorm universe), and Erik Larson (Savage Dragon), but we also saw the slight decline in the big two’s decades long dominance of the industry as a whole. One of the most significant occurrences during this time period is when a lot of those big talents left Marvel to form their own company Image Comics. With this bold move other creators such as former Marvel editor and Chief Jim Shooter, Barry Windsor-Smith (Wolverine), and Bob Layton (Iron Man) and other artist and writers also banded together to for Valiant Comics.
Where Image was full of rock star comic book attitude mixed with 90’s vibrancy and extreme colors. Valiant harkened back to a time when great story combined with great art to create a great comic. Let’s be honest the majority of Image comics starting off where a lot of flash but little substance. Valiant had a create core of books from X-O Manowar, Ninjak, Bloodshot, Harbinger, and Shadowman. But much like a lot of companies in the 90’s Valiant struggled after a period of time and was bought by the video game publisher Acclaim and became Acclaim comics an opened the door to other mediums but then eventually puttered out.
Most recently Valiant Comics as reemerged as Valiant Entertainment and started bring back some their core titles back to commercial and critical acclaim; one of those being one of my favorite which is Shadowman.
The original Shadowman focused on Jack Boniface a cool New Orleans jazz sax player who is drawn into the world of the Shadowman after meeting a mysterious woman and battles an albino sorcerer by the name of Master Darque. The new series starts with Jack’s father Josiah Boniface and his mother Helena Breton. Josiah seeking to finish off his nemesis the necromancer Master Darque; attempts one last stand off with his friends and allies as Helena leaves with their unborn son who will become Jack Boniface. After a difficult battle Master Darque hopes to defeat Shadowman with the emergence of the daylight but instead both men are drawn into Deadside.
Years later an older orphaned Jack Boniface (we learn Helena Breton was killed in a car accident) is back in New Orleans seek info on his parents. After getting disturbing news that his parents may have been criminals, Jack rejects his familial amulet which was given to him by his mother; unknowing it was hiding him from the enemies of the Shadowman.
With the minions of Master Darque working to bring him back to Earth and Jack Boniface revealing himself to the forces of evil at work in New Orleans. Jack is soon hunted by the crazed demon Mr. Twist and his parent’s former ally Dox and his assistant Alyssa.
This is a great comic. Shadowman not only taps into the original source material that made it a stand out on the shelves back in the 90’s but it also delivers a fast paced easily accessible world without being bogged down by the past. The new creators on the series Justin Jordan, Patrick Zircher, and Brian Reber breathe a great story into life with crisp writing, amazing art, and inking and colors that make the world Shadowman feel menacing around every corner. Valiant is making great return to the world of comics and Shadowman is another foray that will solidify its base in an industry that has seen the emergence of groundbreaking work.