Shadowman #5 from Valiant adds another layer to a rich supernatural cake baked by writer Andy Diggle and the creative team that further sets the stage for a war that will dwarf all human wars that came before.
Shadowman is more than just a single character. The protagonist of the book is Jack Boniface and, to some degree, Alyssa Myles. However, the story being set forth in this new run of the supernatural force of nature is much more layered than the usual “superhero” story. In issue five, Jack and Alyssa are nowhere to be found. The story here revolves around one of the previous holders of the Shadowman mantle.
Writing: Andy Diggle
Art: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Letters: Simon Bowland
Editor: Karl Bowllers
“All I got is hearts.“ – Marius Boniface
The new Shadowman series is handled with methodical care by writer Andy Diggle. Reading the series now feels like you’re sitting at a chess table with a supervillain. Diggle — the villain in my weird analogy — is carefully setting up his side of the board while telling a story. There’s a sense that he’s already won, the impending feeling of doom is in the air, pushed forth by the each of the villain’s words. Diggle is taking time to set up a story that is bursting at the seams with tension from issue to issue.
Shadowman #5 further showcases the patience of this book and what Diggle is doing. Our Shadowman, Jack Boniface is lost in a void that’s taking him on a trip through time. Without any ham-fisted exposition, we’re taken back to sometime after the American Civil War has ended. Marius Boniface, the Shadowman of his time, is a war hero but also just wants to be left alone. He’s “tired of savin’ the world.” Marius wants nothing to do with his Deadside alter ego. What he wants is to reunite with a lost love — Sandria. However, Sandria has other plans and so do some locals who don’t like Marius much. But the actions that occur at the end of issue two, nearly two centuries prior, will have consequences in the already unstable present-day world of Shadowman.
The pacing of Shadowman never allows for a complete lack of dynamic visuals. As the story sets a new layer, the beats are accentuated with ferocious action. Artist Stephen Segovia sets the stage for Ulises Arreloa’s colors to create a complex visual world for Shadowman. There is a definite cinematic sense to the book, particularly here in a story set in an old world. The colors reflect a somewhat dated look, like a filter on a camera. The work done by the visual team is consistently fantastic. Shadowman also boasts the coolest and most macabre covers coming out of Valiant. And the unsung hero here is letterer Simon Bowland whose work blends with the art to provide that final layer of immersion.
Why aren’t you reading Shadowman? Any fan of the superhero genre, particularly readers who like the darker heroes, will enjoy what Valiant is offering here. There’s excellent world-building, visceral visuals, interesting characters, and wild supernatural chaos at every turn. The ominous ending of issue five is yet another cliffhanger that makes it feel like issue six will never come soon enough.