Evil forces are homing in on Henry and his mystical blade…  Your Major Spoilers review of Shadow Roads #9 from Oni Press awaits!


Writer: Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt
Artist: A.C. Zamudio
Colorist: Carlos N. Zamudio
Letterer: Crank!
Editor: Charlie Chu
Publisher: Oni Press
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 29, 2020

Previously in Shadow RoadsIn Calcutta, Henry learns from his mother the truth of what happened with her and his father, Screaming Crow.  She warns him that a vile assassin, a fae creature named Asha, is after him and his powerful blade.  Across town, Barry has arrived and is homing in on the location of Henry.  In England, Kalfu and Abigail meet with one of his “professional contacts” in search of information on Henry’s whereabouts.


Picking up moments after last issue’s climax, this issue begins with Henry Grey finally reunited with the mother he had thought long dead.  She is overwhelmed to see him, as he is her, but things get more complex as she explains the truth about his childhood…  and his blade.  It’s not blade at all, but the Anam Key, a birthright that comes from her side of the family: The faerie side.  She and his father enjoyed a forbidden love, forging the key from the blood and magic of both their worlds, going on the lam with their forbidden offspring.  As Henry learns the truth, Barry arrives in Calcutta, only to find that he is expected by a seer named Baba Dheer, who has grave news about Henry.  Not only is he not in Calcutta any longer, he’s no longer in the natural world at all.  As he tries to figure that out, Abigail and Kalfu make their way into the realms of faeries to find Henry, knowing that agents of the faerie queen are on his trail.


I have to admit, I did not expect to have Henry’s birthright be so complicated, but it’s not only kind of neat, it’s so clearly explained in these pages that you can’t help but understand that it’s true.  I like that it’s not entirely clear whether or not Mother Grey is on the level or not, and once again, there are a TON of characters orbiting around the central story here, but I’m starting to get a better feel for the “rules” of magic in this world and so I enjoyed it more than the TPB we reviewed on a recent Major Spoilers Podcast.  The art is really interesting, reminding me a bit of the classic Tintin books with its ability to switch back and forth from abstract and simple to super-detailed, but never losing its cohesion throughout.  The sequences in the faerie land/prison are lovely and delicate, contrasted by Barry’s journey through the streets of 19th Century Calcutta (which is beautiful and filthy at once) or Abilgail’s journey down a creek in a green meadow.


In short, Shadow Roads #9 hits a sweet spot between exposition and story, with art that nails several different places with equal skill and aplomb and a reveal that surprised me in a good way, earning a well-deserved 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Having read this issue, I’m actually more inclined to go back and get the in-between books than I though I would be after reading the first trade, which is probably the best endorsement a single issue can achieve.

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Is Good

This issue reveals secrets that, while shocking, make perfect sense in hindsight and does it with really attractive art, making for a solid reading experience.

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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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