Available now from Vault Comics, writer Cavan Scott and illustrator Corin Howell continue their genre-hybrid series in Shadow Service #2. Assisting them in their efforts are colorist Triona Farrell and Andworld Design for lettering. Shadow Service #2 delves deeper into the magical noir-like London underbelly of the private investigator witch, Gina Meyer.
In Shadow Service #1, readers were introduced without pause to Vault’s answer to Jessica Jones, Gina Meyer. She’s a lone-wolf private investigator and witch whose best friend is a telepathic rat. Behind her rough exterior, Gina reveals that an incident with her stepfather at age eight haunts her through extended flashbacks.
While the first issue did include some of this backstory, the second issue spends more time on the details and what happened after the incident, leading from Gina as a child into adulthood. This backstory is sort of a D-plot, if you will, interwoven with the A, B, and C plots.
Providing the fast-paced A-plot is Gina’s kidnapping by an organization called Section 26. As it happens, Gina is an inadvertent rogue witch in this society in which all magical activity and people are tracked by Section 26, a. k. a. MI666.
Underscoring Shadow Services‘ witchy spy drama, Howell’s London is ominously drawn with scratchy line work. For example, in one panel, Gina is suspended in a sickly sort of green backdrop with small nails surrounding her. She’s trapped in severe lines in her facial expression and background, emotionally highlighting the character’s anxiety and frustration. It evokes the same feelings in the reader.
In concert with Howell’s illustration, Farrell’s use of red, black, and gray support the book as a noir. On the other hand, purple, radium green, and yellow make up the color palette’s supernatural aspects. Beyond Farrell’s use of purple, letterer Andworld Design often used purple in the narrative captions, contrasting the noir elements. Together, such artistic choices help transcend genre formulae. Consequently, as the reader becomes immersed in the story, one carries the same anxiety and pessimism Gina carries.
Artistically and in the story, nothing about Shadow Service is entirely conventional. It’s noir, supernatural, and part crime drama all compellingly balanced and paced by Scott, Howell, and Farrell. Regardless of genre, the emotional core and esoteric mood make for an electrifying experience. This British, magical answer to Jessica Jones successfully freshens up the familiar.