Sunday, December 1, 2013

1st Impression: SHADOWMAN # 13

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Roberto De LaTorre & David Baron
Valiant Comics

                So … yeah. Jack ends up blacking out and awaking as Shadowman in an alley … full of dead bodies. Meanwhile, Alyssa is joined by senior Abettors who pretty much tell her (and readers) that Jack has “anger issues.” This prompts Jack to meet with a punk girl named Mambo. Mambo ends up trying to “help” Jack, only to find that Shadowman is something else quite different from what we know now.

                De LaTorre is a master of the dark, gritty pencils and inks. The panels give off plenty of grim detail, which fits the new direction and atmosphere for the book. There is enough detail to tell people apart from one another and the moody art really helps project this darker, more horrific direction. Baron comes in with darker colors and makes some smart artistic choices in coloring; only adding to the texture and mood of the panel. A solid first outing for this new art team.

                I enjoy Peter Milligan. I do. This issue was good. It had tension. It definitely gave us mystery. I LOVE Mambo already. I really want more of her in the future cause Punk Mambo is awesome. The pacing of the story was good. And we got some characterizations that were definitely handled well. The dialogue was smart and the narrative was haunting. It did bring you in.
                That being said … I have to admit … this new direction felt TOO DRASTIC of a change. I have followed this title since the first issue. This issue is definitely a jump on point. But compared to what I have seen before hand, this issue is really very different from the Shadowman we have seen before. Jack’s “anger issues” are plausible enough but the way they are amplified here just make it a bit too out of character for me.  Jack being angry about what had happened in his life, I could understand. But there was already strides to curb that anger. This issue pretty much ignores that and doesn’t ignore it at the same time. The fact that the Shadowman and Jack are being two distinct different beings is also a VERY interesting change. And considering how much the Abettors have actually relied on Shadowman, now wanting to kill him was different feeling very out of place.
                Milligan is doing the best with what he can do now.
                Honestly, I believe that is what I am angry about the most. The previous continuity of this character kind of being ignored in some cases and kept in other cases. Yet, I honestly believe that Valiant is doing what they can to save this book; hence the dramatic change. The art was good. The writing was good. If you had not read a single issue of this series and this is your first issue, this will work out great for you. Otherwise, it is gonna feel like a slap to the face. I don’t blame Milligan at all. Out of all the Valiant Books, this book has gotten the least amount of acclaim or reaction.  Yet, the ignoring of certain events in continuity and some of the changes to long time readers are going to feel very out of place. Otherwise, it is a strong jump on point for the book.


                This is one of the most difficult reviews I ever had to give. While there is still more to come from Milligan, this was a good first issue. Yet the changes in Jack felt a bit too drastic. As a jump on point, it’s solid though with mystery and suspense. So, I give Shadowman # 11 a 7 … out of 10. It was good but could be better. We’ll just have to wait and see. 

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