Finding people for her boss uncovers some strange goings on in London. Intrigued? Find out more in Shadow Service #1 from Vault Comics!

Shadow Service #1 ReviewSHADOW SERVICE #1

Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Corin Howell
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Andworld Design
Editor: Adrian F. Wassel
Publisher: Vault Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 19, 2020

Previously in Shadow Service: Gina Meyers is a witch with powers so intense they worry her. She is also a private investigator. Finding people is her specialty, but there’s finding people…and finding people.

OFF TO A BOLD AND GRITTY START

Shadow Service #1 has a classic feeling opening. Gina Myers walks through the dark streets of London talking on her phone with a client while a little mental monologue runs through her head. She apparently never intended to become a P.I., but that’s just how things turned out, and she has a talent for finding people. She makes her way into a bar.

A man at the bar chats up a woman, and things escalate when he grabs her, and she tells him to get his hands off. He slaps her, which triggers a memory for Gina, and she steps in to stop him. As it turns out, she has been hired to find this man, Theo Grange. He throws a barstool at her and runs off. Gina checks in with the woman and then runs off to find Theo. Up until now, everything has seemed straightforward, but when she gets into the alley, she finds a friend of hers, Edwin – a rat. This rat talks to her. It is from him that we find out her hunt for Theo is at the behest of a man called Gideon Quill, and Edwin thinks this Quill is bad news.

We cut to Gina’s brief but very intense origin story. When she was a little girl, her mother had an abusive boyfriend. Little Gina had been hearing words in her head but didn’t understand them. Then one night when the boyfriend hit her mother, she spoke one of them which cast a spell that trapped the boyfriend, but also horrified her mother, and little Gina was abandoned.

Back in the present day, Gina finds a footprint of Theo’s and uses magic, by way of a nailgun, to shoot his footprint and transfer the effects to him, which is pretty cool. This immobilizes him. Gina calls her boss, but as she’s on the phone, he starts changing – and pulls his foot loose from the effects of the nail. There’s a scuffle before Quill shows up. He’s happy to take the target and pay for him, but he does not explain to Gina what’s going on.

Magic use has consequences in this world. For Gina, using her magic causes insomnia. As long as she can’t sleep, she goes to the gym. There she sees a heavyset man that she recalls seeing in the bar earlier that evening. As he finishes and leaves, she calls out to him and then runs after him into the locker room. He isn’t there, but a very buff Black man is. She uses her magic to instead track him by scent.

From here on in, things get progressively stranger. Gina finds the man’s house – and his dismembered and skinned body hanging up in the garage. Inside the house, the buff Black man is chewing on body parts. And then he shape shifts. They slug it out for a while, until the woman from the bar shows up…

DRAMATIC AND STARTLING

There are moments when the art in Shadow Service #1 is a little rough. Some of the facial expressions are so strong that they look a bit odd, and young Gina looks more like a miniature Gina than a child. That said, all the characters we meet are individual and recognizable. The fight scenes are solid, and Edwin is charming and beautifully drawn. I like the portrayal of Gina as someone who is driven to do what she does, and we really get a feel for how gritty it is.

If I have not made this clear already, this is not a book for young kids. This is a book that has body horror, the eviscerated body I mentioned above, and plenty of blood and violence. Women are hit off panel, but it’s clear what happened to them. The awfulness is executed well; it also fits the story so far, but just be aware that this is no light-hearted romp. It’s gritty and rough.

BOTTOM LINE: URBAN FANTASY IN AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE WITH ESPIONAGE

Shadow Service #1 is setting up mysteries right from the start. I like that the magic here is powerful but has consequences which limit it. Gina is both tough and vulnerable, and this is an intriguing first issue.


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Shadow Service #1

70%
70%
Not a book for young kids

Gina Myers battles her own inner demons while dealing with the monstrous in London.

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  • Art
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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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