Thursday, September 18, 2014
Shadowman #11 and #12 (New Valiant)
Valiant's 'current' Shadowman series is definitely the worst of its relaunch, in my opinion. Its stories are overlong, establish extremely little, and have boring, dull nothings of characters! Now that the first two arcs, as well as two pointless and rushed origin issues are out of the way, is their room for improvement for this series?...
It's Halloween night in New Orleans, and Jack Boniface, the current heir to the Shadowman lineage*, is just rambling around when he sees a few mischievous spirits flying about. They possess a few drunken knobs, and run around, wanting to have fun. Jack heads after them, hoping to catch and send the spirits before the night can get too chaotic...
*If you're wondering why I'm not elaborating on what that is, it's because the series sure as hell doesn't!
This is a slightly-goofy Halloween one-shot, basically, and it feels incredibly divorced from the rest of the series, given that main character Dox just died! We see neither the effects of his death, nor how it hit Jack and Alyssa. Jack never mentions Dox once this issue, and Alyssa never appears at all!
Jack Boniface is a dull character as usual, but here, he whines too! "Responsibility is a curse. If you screw up, people won't trust you. If you do a great job, then all they do is load you up with more". Oh boo hoo Jack. If you have nothing to say about being a superhero and protector of the innocent other than 'wah wah, I have to do work' then quit being a superhero! Darque is dead, therefore all reason for Jack even being the Shadowman is complete! His family can let the burden go now, and be at peace. Jack could easily just move to Cancun. Sure he may not be able to get rid of his powers, but all that means is that he'll be able to whip up some cool superpowers whenever he wants to!
Shan 'Dr. Mirage' Fong appears here, having previously shown up in Shadowman Issues #5 and #6. She's entertaining, but has no character to her. Also, as I said in my review of Shadowman Issues #5 to #9, there's no indication here that Shan has a husband, which is detrimental to her new miniseries.
This issue's 'villains' are pretty nothing. They just seem like fun-loving sprites, rather than anything dangerous, or even all that annoying. They are after all possessing the particular people they do because said guys are drunken jerks!
The art here is all decent, but the cover is rather boring. The layout of one scene is really badly done. It's a fight scene, and the panels radically swing from one thing to another. It's also confusing in one panel, where Jack kisses Shan against their will. I think the implication is that Jack was punched into Shan, but due to the poor scene structure (and the fact that she was facing a different direction!), it looks more like Jack is a sexual predator.
Jack Boniface's whining idiocy aside, this is a slightly entertaining harmless romp, and not bad by any means.
Issue #12 is another issue that's basically a one-shot. For no reason, it's a collection of Shadowman short stories.
Deadside Blues is a very good short story. It gets across character for Jack, and Jaunty is a likeable spiritual advisor. He actually acts like the Jaunty from the fantastic 1999 video game, which is much appreciated! He's also not wasted here either, which is even more appreciated! Unfortunately the next two arcs are gonna ruin that for us again. The artwork in this story is very good! Not a bad moment in it! Ultimately, this is the best story of this Shadowman series in the whole bunch!...
Lucky Charm is a crummy little story, focusing on a character who briefly appeared in one issue. The guy, Freddy, was someone reluctantly working for some Soma drug dealers, and he narrates about how sucky his life is, and how bad he feels about what he does for a living, but does it anyway, blah blah blah. This story is boring and pointless, and the ending is really confusing. It shows Freddy injecting a milk carton in his fridge with...something...for a reason (if its Soma, that would make sense if not for everything that comes after), then he goes to bed with his wife and baby, then the very next panel is him out in the streets being attacked by Shadowman. What?! And then the story has the balls to have a happy ending! This character is a total louse! He hardly deserves that!...Or is this ending of Shadowman showing mercy meant to be a Soma hallucination? If so, the issue does a terrible job at establishing it as such. It's so confusing that whether or not it's meant to be an ambiguous ending is entirely unclear!
One dumb part is when Freddy says that he strikes back against his drug dealers in subtle ways, like stealing pens from their supple closet! Wow, dude, you're really showing them!
The dumbest thing about this issue is its complete misunderstanding of what Soma is! It thinks that Soma is a drug taken from the brains of children, acting as distilled dreams, when in actual fact, Soma is one of two things-A muscle pain reliever also known as Carisoprodol, and a soothing religious drink that originated from India and the Middle East. Writer, do not take scientific advice from Where the Dead go to Die!
Finally, the artwork to this section is pretty meh.
This story has no name until the last panel, and there is zero transition between Lucky Charms, and this! That's confusing already, and once you get your bearings, you realize you're reading a very stupid story. Plot points are ridiculous, and the climax is confusing as hell! This whole story is just rushed!
This story does namedrop Dox a few times, but there's never any fallout from his death in Issue #9. It was just a thing that happened, and we never see how Alyssa feels about either it, or the fact that Jack was the one that had to kill Dox.
The artwork is ok, but it makes Jack look like a teen.
The final story in this collection is a brief two page black-and-white amateur-looking piece of crap. It's extremely rushed, confusing, and hard to read, given the subpar artwork, inking, and font!
The cover to this issue is pretty bad. It's boring, the title is partially obscured, and the way Jack's face is drawn is off, making him look like a monkey! Mouths are not that wide!
To finish, Issue #11 of Shadowman is a harmless 'one-shot', while Issue #12 is a mostly crap short story collection with one golden section...