Aaah, the magic of the comics crossover.  Your favorite characters standing shoulder toe shoulder, even when it doesn’t make a lick of sense, and it’s not just superheroes in play, either.  Your favorite comedians, award-winning actors, even The President have gotten in on the action, but what about the rock stars?  Don’t they deserve a little play?  Your Major Spoilers (retro) review of Shadowman #19 awaits!

Shadowman19CoverSHADOWMAN #19
Writer: Bob Hall
Penciller: Bob Hall
Inker: John Dixon
Colorist: Mike Cavallaro
Letterer: Bethanne Niedz
Editor: Don Perlin
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Cover Price: $2.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.50

Previously in Shadowman: Jack Boniface is a semi-successful musician in New Orleans, who got involved with the wrong girl and ended up possessed of a strange power each nightfall: His “soul” or shadows comes forth and forces him to hunt evil spirits in the night.  With a special eldritch mask and a costume that’s garish even by 1993 standards, Jack puts the smackdown on the things that go bump in the night, repeatedly crossing swords with a necromancer known as Master Darque, who wants to use Jack’s own power to…  Destroy the world?  Take over the world?  I’ve never been quite sure, to be honest.  Either way, for some reason, this issue opens with Jack jamming with a couple of old friends…

…who are now members of Aerosmith.


Also, due to illness, the part of Steven Tyler is played by an abomination with a hinged jaw like a python, apparently.  As the band warms up and the rest of us try to remember where the saxophone part is in ‘Walk This Way’, a young man named…


…sorrry, I had to smash my forehead against desk for half an hour.  Back now.  A young man named Moondance, who idolized Stephen Tyler, has been made an offer he can’t refuse by Master Darque, and busts into the backstage area seeking an audience with the band.  Tyler catches Moondance rifling through his things…

Shadowman192And BANG, Stephen Tyler gets in the first hit!  If he keeps it up, he’s going to out-hero the actual protagonist of the book, who comes running with the rest of the band at the sound of the struggle.  They get caught up by Moondance’s bodyguards, the undead mooks of Master Darque, who have a little extra leverage to apply in their quest for Tyler’s greasy ebon locks…


Once again, it’s Tyler who gets to be heroic, rather than our actual hero, which makes me wonder whether Aerosmith had any input on the script of the issue, because it really feels a bit odd for me that the guest-star is getting all the good bits in the story.  Either way, Moondance scrambles away with Tyler’s hair and belongings, taking them back to Master Darque so that he can steal all of Steven’s musical mojo, voodoo-style…


To distract our hero, Master Darque burns down Shadowman’s house, keeping him out of action long enough for the Darque Power to transfer all of Steven Tyler’s talent to Moondance.  Turns out it’s about ten minutes or so…

Shadowman195The transfer of mystical energy has a strange effect on the lead singer of Aerosmith, sending him racing into the night for some reason, as Master Darque makes a telepathic phone call to Shadowman.

You remember Shadowman?  This is a book about Shadowman…


The epic battle between muscle-bound arcane-powered hero and man made out of beef jerky with a mop on top does NOT go the way you might expect, as Steven Tyler quickly thrashes Shadowman, racing to another theatre where he finds Moondance…

…who we left at the previous theatre?   And who is now dressed like a mutant version of Steven-Tyler-As-The-Joker wearing a Shadowman t-shirt and reciting Aerosmith lyrics as dialogue.  By the time Shadowman and Aerosmith arrive, Darque’s zombie henchmen have blocked the doors, allowing for our hero to finally get back a little of what wrestlers call the rub…


I think the most entertaining part of the issue is Jack “Shadowman” Boniface thinking intently about “changing his voice” so that the men he’s spent the last 24 hours working with don’t recognize him in a half-mask and the same clothes he’s been wearing all along.  While Shadowman fights his way through the mooks, Steven Tyler beats up the bad guy AND breaks the voodoo spell, only for Master Darque to take the voodoo doll and murder the singer in mystical cold blood.  Shadowman bargains for Tyler’s life, agreeing to do an unspecified favor for his mortal enemy to save the life of Stretch Armstrong Steven.


There were a lot of bizarre and indefensible decisions made by Valiant Comics over the years (they did, after all, name one of their flagship characters X-O, the superhero equivalent of black lettering on a white label), but it is really puzzling how this one is constructed.  The entire issue feels much more like “Aerosmith Action featuring Jack Boniface” than the other way around, with the main character’s actions in the issue including watching his house burn, watching a rock & roll singer outfight him and making a literal deal with the devil.  Add to that the truly horrifying faces given to Steven Tyler (who, I want to reiterate, gets most of the face time in the issue), and this is a comic book that is memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Shadowman #19 is a mystifying comic from a baffling era of comics, and while it is the best-selling issue of Shadowman ever, there’s also a valedictorian at every clown college, but you wouldn’t invite him to do your appendix surgery, leaving us with a slightly below-average 2 out of 5 stars overall.


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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