Zadie Lu is known as the girl who is afraid of shadows. But are there absolute terrors to be found within their darkness? Find out in Shadecraft #1 from Image Comics!
Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Rick Lopez, Jr.
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 31, 2021
Previously in Shadecraft: Zadie Lu is in high school. For years she has felt overshadowed by her popular brother, and to top it off, she has an irrational fear of shadows. Life is never easy at that age.
IT’S NOT THE DARKNESS, BUT THE SHADOWS
Shadecraft #1 opens with Zadie Lu walking with her friend Josh at dusk one day. She insists she is not afraid of the dark – something that will become clarified as the issue progresses. Yet he is walking her home. He professes to having an ulterior motive, and Zadie leaps to conclusions and kisses him, catching him completely by surprise, especially when what he actually wanted was to pick up the Switch he had left there a week ago. She runs off, embarrassed and crushed, talking about how things were finally getting back to normal, and now she just ruined them again.
Then she senses something behind her. We see the unusual shadow growing there, but when she turns around, nothing is out of the ordinary. She wonders if she is going crazy. As she reaches her home, she talks through her fears, telling herself to relax, but then the shadows erupt into a towering figure that surrounds her, terrifying her until her mother turns on the porch light.
She doesn’t tell her mother about this, not wanting to worry her more, what with her having to care for Zadie’s brother Ricky, which sounds serious. She does talk to her friend Kate at school the next day, and tells her about the shadows, showing her holes in her jacket. Plainly Kate is rather skeptical. Then Zadie remembers that Josh was also out at dusk and she hasn’t seen him. She finds him at lunch, hugs him, and tells him she’s glad he’s not dead. When he asks if this was about the kiss, she tells him no, that’s it’s about the murderous shadows. He is justifiably confused, and Kate looks at her slyly, as though she now knows the real reason for Zadie’s story.
To top it off, she thinks she sees the shadows again and tackles Kate. And this gets caught on video and shared online. To embarrass yourself in public is always rough, but in the current age of social media, it can become a social disaster. She bemoans her fate and asks Ricky what he thinks, and we finally see that he is in a coma and has been since a car accident a year before. Zadie continues talking to him, confessing to have always hated him for being the sibling she could never hope to live up to. Now that he’s out of public life, his presence still hangs over her because she is now known as the sister of the “coma kid.”
There’s a briefly puzzling scene as her parents come across her. Her mother insists she is not supposed to be in Ricky’s room. Zadie makes a joke, her father laughs, and her mother turns on both of them. It has been a year, but she cares for Ricky full time, convinced that he will be recovering.
In tears, Zadie runs outside to the woods where she can be alone. As she is out there, the shadows loom up around her again like they did before. But this time, a smaller shadow, about her size, tells her to run, and run she does. As she leaves the woods, she sees that she no longer has a shadow. It must have been her shadow that saved her, and as she wonders about this, her shadow lands on the ground beside her with a thud and tells her to run. The big shadow is still coming after her. She helps her shadow up and runs with it, but they are both enveloped by the larger shadow and drawn into the ground.
Until Zadie turns on her phone’s flashlight, and she finally gets a chance to talk to her shadow.
TERROR AND INTENSE BEAUTY
The art of Shadecraft #1 is stunning. The characters are terrific and hugely expressive. As the main character, Zadie has a broad range to cover, and this is done incredibly well. She is cute, and at the start she is carefree and smiling, right up to the point where she kisses her friend and within moments she is overcome with embarrassment that rapidly turns into the agonizing hopelessness one gets at that age when, once again, you do something impetuous and utterly wrong.
As charming as she and her friends are, the real star of the issue is the shadow monster. We first see it when the shadows of a streetlamp and a mailbox suddenly look like something with far too many tentacles. We might chalk it up to a trick of the light, but when she turns around, the shadow is normal. We see it again, large, misshapen, and flat on the ground except where it folds onto a wall. When it finally erupts to attack, it is truly terrifying. And it can melt away in an instant.
BOTTOM LINE: A FASCINATING PREMISE
Shadecraft #1 is an impressive opening to a story that is about all kinds of shadows, not just the literal ones formed by strong light. Zadie comes across as honest and awkward, simultaneously not caring what people think and feeling it incredibly deeply when they don’t understand her.
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A year after her brother’s death, Zadie Lu must face the shadows in her life.