Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shadowman Presents: Deadside #1, #2, and #3 (Acclaim Comics)

Two years after buying out the bankrupt Valiant Comics, video game company Acclaim reset all the continuity, to start everything from scratch. Its new take on Shadowman produced a fantastic Nintendo 64 game, and a decent six issue series, but its first foray into the character was a 20 issue series which reeked of mediocrity all the way through.

A major aspect of all Acclaim Shadowman iterations is Deadside, the place everyone in this world goes to when they die. This setting was given its own miniseries in 1999 to more thoroughly explore it...Unfortunately it came out in 1999, which was the very end of Acclaim's comics division, which just barely crawled over the millennial gap before it was completely written off, what with the company starting to face serious financial issues (which they attempted to solve in increasingly dumb and insane ways, like bad-quality porn as a reward in shitty BMX games, or advertising their video games on real tombstones). Because of this, Deadside is a four-issue miniseries that only went for three!...

Horror in genre, Deadside is a miserable series, and I'm glad it didn't get to finish out its run. It has decently written moments here and there (very occasionally, mind you), but it's depressing beyond belief! And it's basically made up of one note, and that note is 'The afterlife sure sucks, don't it!'.

Each issue is an unconnected take on Deadside, all tenuously linked by the same character, I think (this guy being the victim in #1, then a watcher in #2 and #3). I say I think because the artwork sucks, and there's multiple characters in cowboy hats. How is he as a character? Well at the end of Issue #1, we find out that he has now become someone neither dead, nor undead...and that vague line is all we get, and it's never spoken of again! What is he? Can he walk between the worlds or something? What kind of rare powers does he now wield? Eh, I don't care.

The writing is just meh. It's pretentious, and it fails at being sick and twisted. I just found it to be boring. One thing to note, though, is that Issue #1's plot actually kinda resembles French extreme horror film Martyrs!

I've no idea why this is 'presented' by Shadowman. Sure, Deadside originates from that series, but by extension, it exists in every Acclaim title, from XO Man-O-War to Dr. Tomorrow. Michael LeRoi (the Shadow Man) isn't in this series (although Jaunty briefly is), so it feels like a cheap title to draw readers in.

One of the biggest problems this miniseries has is that it completely contradicts how Deadside is seen in other Acclaim series Bloodshot, and issues of Shadowman itself! And there's absolutely zero Voodoo in this series, despite that being a lynchpin to Shadowman. Wow, you don't screw up this badly without effort!

Another confusing aspect is-How can people die in Deadside? Maybe they come back again (it's implied in Bloodshot's final issue), but that's never brought up here, which is annoying, as a major element to #3 is killing residents of Deadside.

Like I said above, the artwork sucks! This is one reason why Acclaim's first run at Shadowmman was such a failure-The artwork was crudely drawn and ugly to look at. The same applies here, but what's really baffling is the sudden art shift mid-issue in #3! Veering away from the messy painted visuals, it becomes a lot smoother and photo-realistic, and it never switches back! What the hell? The covers aren't terrible, I guess. I think the logo looks ok-Three different versions of the word Deadside superimposed over each-other.

You might find Deadside disgusting, you might find it downright insulting to your religion, or you may look forward to some twisted storytelling, but either way, I don't recommend it. It's just not all that well-written...

By the way, on one more note. You know what really tickles me? This immensely dark miniseries about the horrific reality of how life after death is eternal suffering and damnation for everyone, everywhere, no exception? It's in the same universe as goofball comedy Quantum and Woody! Wow!...

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