Shadowman (Valiant Comics) is about a man named Jack Boniface who has the Loa (Voodoo Spirit) of the Shadowman attached to his line, dating back through generations through the males in his family. Boniface (as Shadowman) fights to keep Master Darque and Baron Samedi from escaping the Deadside and coming into our world.
In the last issue of Shadowman, Jack was thrown from the Deadside by Baron Samedi and appeared to be dead. It was quite a cliffhanger to cap off the first 3 issues of this new series/volume. So it was a big shock to read issue #4 which, in all honesty, made me a bit angry. The issue starts off in New York (1940) and Shadowman (Maxim Boniface, Jack’s Great Grandfather) is chasing down a group of Nazi’s and somehow, Jack is seeing through Maxim’s eyes. This ends up turning into the Nazis trying to start a race war between black and white Americans and every social cliché and tired line is put into use here. The dialogue becomes saturated in social preaching and the story… well, we’ve seen it before.
I think a writer can be political and do his job. When done right, the story makes you think but doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the book you are reading. When done wrong, you end up feeling like you were just talked down to using slogans that have been used a million times before in other works. Writer Andy Diggle just went too far in pushing the political and forgot that most people come to read comics to get away from the “real world.” Like I said, there is a right way to do it and this wasn’t it.
The best part about the story was seeing how Shadowman got his weapon from the Abettors (Protectors charged with helping the Shadowman). The art by Shawn Martinbrough and Stephen Segovia used heavy dark lines which delightfully came across in a very noir feel for certain panels. The art has been really good so far in this series and this one kept that bar up there.
Overall? I just hope the next issue gets back to good storytelling. This is in my subscription list and I would hate to have to drop it just because politics has infected something else. This issue is set up as being a good jumping on point but I’d recommend getting 1 – 3 first, then reading this one. This one is not the book to judge this series on. When Shadowman sticks to the voodoo, the arcane, and the horror feel, it really embraces everything that it should be.