Sunday, February 16, 2014
Shadowman #1 and #2 (Classic Valiant)
Like probably everyone else who owns a Nintendo 64, I've played the hell out of Shadowman. It's a great game!-One of the big five next to Goldeneye 64, Mario 64, Castlavania 64 (Oh for God's sake, enough with the damn 64's!), and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. But how do the comics fare?...Well if we're talking about the comics that the game was based on, then the answer is 'Shit', but what about the original Valiant iteration?
Issues 1 and 2 of Shadowman focus on Jazz singer Jack Boniface's journey into becoming Shadowman, 'Voodoo' hero. One night when performing, Jack is taken in by the seductive and mysterious Lydia. At her apartment, Jack is drugged, and is bitten on the neck by Lydia after she transforms into a monster. After her strange disappearance, Jack blacks out, and when he wakes up in the morning, he flees the house. Feeling weird, more confident at night, and having found a carnival mask on a sidewalk, Jack feels the urge to become a nighttime vigilante...
The artwork here is all good, although there's a pointless splash page at the beginning that's just of Jack playing his sax. The art does get lazy sometimes and just has the blank whiteness of the page as a background, lacking even bordering. In fact, a lot of Valiant comics do that.
The cover to #2 is ok. It's good, but not all that enticing to me. #1's cover though, is very good! It has a great look and feel, and keeping the hero in the back, obscured by the shadows, evokes a great mood.
The plot in #1 is decent, but it's a bit drawn out, and doesn't have much meat on its bones. I feel that it could have been cut down a bit and had #2 added onto it, making a complete origin story, rather than split apart by a month. Also, it would have been great if this Voodoo themed series actually had fucking Voodoo in it! Seriously, superpowers and aliens in your shared universe are fine, but magic is 'silly and unrealistic'? Stupid Valiant! This is what you get when you don't let genres mesh and you're unwilling to compromise!
Jack isn't a very well written character here. He's a jazz musician who gets attacked, and suddenly feels like hunting down criminals and murderers. For a guy who's constantly narrating, there really isn't much too him
#2 is where Voodoo priestess Nettie first appears, and at this point, as far as Jack (and the reader) knows, she's just a housekeeper. Thankfully, while she still talk in dat pidgin English, she not like other times where da writun' make her locution even worse. She doesn't have any character here other than being an old woman who believes in Voodoo.
Although it would have been better if he was a well-developed villain, for Shadowman's first opponent, Samedi is alright. The most annoying thing about him is his name. I think for a 'voodoo-themed' series, Samedi would be a name fitting for a more major character, rather than some random dumb serial killer who's only in a couple of issues.
There is one embarrassing scene in #2, where Jack is fighting thugs,...while dressed in a bright yellow shirt and blue pants! Shadowman!
There's also a confusing scene, where a bunch of sci-fi looking commandos raid Lydia's flat. From what I know, they're never seen or mention of ever again in any Valiant comics, so who the hell are they, and what are they doing taking up time pointlessly in a supposed horror series?
By the end of #1, Jack is wearing dark black, encompassing clothes, and they work really well visually. He looks like you'd expect someone called Shadowman to look. Unfortunately, Nettie gives him a new outfit in #2, and it's a light blue leotard! Luckily his outfit does eventually change...But unfortunately, said change is to just a leather biker jacket. *sigh*
A big problem with this series is that Jack Boniface will not shut up about 'the night'! He's always going on about 'the night', 'my night' 'Shadowman's night', 'get out of my night', etc, etc. It is beyond repetitive! In one page of # 2 alone, he says the word night five times!
That repetition even ruins the ending. You see, when Jack is inflicting his final moves on Samedi (uh, spoiler, the good guy wins), he narrates some badass lines and that's fine, it's perfect...Until he opens his mouth again, and ruins the moment! The dialogue was so good, that another line was unnecessary, annoying, and it says the word night, again!
I don't know if I can recommend these. Part of it is the drawn out first issue, but part of it is that I don't know how well the quality of this series endures