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Jack Boniface returns horror to the Valiant lineup

“Shadowman” No. 1, which went on sale April 28, provides a good starting point for a new supernatural adventure from the creative team of Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt.

Courtesy of Valiant Entertainment

Valiant Entertainment’s super-powered stable of characters just got a supernatural boost with the return of Shadowman this Wednesday.

Jack Boniface, better known as Shadowman, is back with the release of comic book “Shadowman” No. 1, courtesy of writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jon Davis-Hunt, who give the New York-based publisher’s vigilante a fresh coat of paint since he was last seen. In this new series, no prior knowledge of the character is needed, making this debut issue an easily digestible slice of horror, assuming you’ve got the stomach to swallow the gore. However, if you’re into having everything spelled out for you in advance, Valiant provides a helpful synopsis of what Shadowman’s situation is at the start of the book.

Davis-Hunt, who previously provided art for “The Wild Storm” at DC Comics, has an eye for design, which makes sense given he’s got ample experience working as a video game designer. His visuals in “Shadowman” are grisly and well-suited for the macabre. His sequential approach is also refined, making it a pleasure to immerse oneself into moments of action. Jordie Bellaire’s color palette, meanwhile, is equally effective, as it’s muted in a way which punctuates the horror aspects of the book when Shadowman, with the help of Baron Samedi, the King of Death, crashes an exclusive party in New Orleans for socialites who happen to be members of a cult. As the party turns frightful, and the socialites prove to be beyond their range of abilities, monsters and gore take over, and Davis-Hunt and Bellaire don’t skimp in how badly everything has gone for the partygoers.

This first issue lacks humor, which is probably for the best as Bunn’s storytelling is straightforward and ends with a big hook to whet the appetite of readers. What the comic may lack in humor makes up for in narration and characterization, as Boniface, who’s infused with Voodoo powers, provides an inner monologue that’s coated with a neo-noir voice that’s dry but effective.

Much of what this issue is missing is offset by the simplicity and elegance in how the book is executed by its writer and art team, which includes letter Clayton Cowles. Shadowman, whose mission is to protect the world of the living from the world of the dead, known as the Deadside, first appeared in the Valiant Universe in 1992 as the co-creation of Jim Shooter, Steve Engelhart and David Lapham.

Whether you’re new to the character, or a longtime reader and fan, the execution and setup in this first issue should be enough to satisfy any supernatural and horror cravings you’ve got. The collaboration between Davis-Hunt and Bellaire is worth the $4 it costs to buy the comic off the stand at the local comic shop, and there’s plenty of good writing and setup to engage readers in this new take on the character to make one add the book to their pull list for the foreseeable future.



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