REVIEW: Shadowman #4

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Jack Boniface is getting the hand of things, but he has a ways to go. Master Darque is close to entering our plane of existence and causing lots of not-good things for humanity. Meanwhile Mr. Twist is trying to stick his hand into a captive Dox. Will he succeed? Will charges be pressed? Find out in the Major Spoilers Review!

SHADOWMAN4 COVERWRITER: JUSTIN JORDAN, PATRICK ZIRCHER
ARTIST: PATRICK ZIRCHER
COLORS: BRIAN REBER
LETTERS: ROB STEEN
EDITOR: WARREN SIMONS
PUBLISHER: VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT
COVER PRICE: $3.99

PREVIOUSLY

In an encounter with the spirit remnant of his father, Jack Boniface accepts the responsibility of being Shadowman because the alternative is unacceptable. Now, fully embracing his destiny, Jack prepares to save Alyssa.

I DIDN’T FEEL KEPT IN THE DARK

Once again I’ve lept into a title during the final issue of an arc. Fortunately, though it’s the debut arc of Shadowman, so I’m not getting lost in too much backstory in this excellent Valiant relaunch title.

This issue sees Jack Boniface graduate from neophyte to hero-in-training as he fights Mr. Twist, tries to save Alyssa’s life, and prevent Master Darque from invading our world. By issue’s end he’s mostly successful.

As complicated as this issue felt like it wanted to be, I didn’t have too much trouble figuring out its goings-on, but I was aided by the storyline. As a more-than-fairweather fan of Doctor Strange, I’ve read this archetypal “Dormammu-wants-to-enter-our-realm-crap!-we-have-to-stop-him” story many times, but I’m not complaining. The trope is well-used and only aided my understanding of the story.

SAME WORLD, DIFFERENT DIMENSION?

The portal to Deadside is a shimmering blue Sliders-esque affair, but the way it would take up the background of entire panels made me feel like I was reading Aquaman, but otherwise the setting would have been a nasty old warehouse, so it was probably a good tradeoff. My only other complaint was one full-page panel that had some obviously computer-enhanced motion blur—it was unnecessary and took me out of the story.

On balance, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the art. The monsters were creepy and threatening (except for the monkey with the top hat) without being claw-out-my-eyes terrifying and the action scenes were fluid and full of motion without me having to struggle to understand what’s happening.

Often I’ll write a review and lament I had nothing good to say about the panel structure, even if the artist found some creative ways to display them. Good, effective panel work should be invisible rather than draw attention to itself, so I don’t usually let the lament linger. This issue held to that standard, but I have to compliment the artist’s tight crops on the panel images—a small, well-focused image is so much better than trying to show everyone and everything in a 2”x2” square.

BOTTOM LINE: IT IS WORTHY OF YOUR TIME

I missed out on Valiant the first time around—for me, the Clinton years began and ended with Spider-Man and X-Men—but since then I’ve read a little of the pre-Acclaim era and it was enough to pique my interest when the line was resurrected last year. Before this issue I was totally ignorant of “Shadowman,” but I’m not yet a total convert to the fandom. The overall strength of the art and quality of the writing, though, is enough to ensure I check this out a few more times before passing judgment. 4 stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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