In May, Valiant Entertainment released “Shadowman” #0, a special origin issue that covered the beginnings of Shadowman’s primary nemesis, Master Darque. Written by Justin Jordan with art by Roberto De La Torre, the issue introduced Darque as a young boy along with his sister, Sandria, as they learned the technical aspects of magic. After their father attempted to sacrifice Sandria to obtain entrance into Lyceum, Darque destroyed his father and walked off into the night — but not before resurrecting his sister by drawing energy out of the surrounding living things.
Come September, Jordan and De La Torre reunite to continue Master Darque’s origin story in “Shadowman” #10, a one-shot issue that also explores the connection between Master Darque and the Shadowman loa as an age-old conflict begins. CBR News spoke with Jordan and series editor Jody LeHeup about the development of the story, where it picks up following the events of “Shadowman” #0, the importance of history to the “Shadowman” mythos and what’s coming for the future of the book.
CBR News: Justin, you’re continuing the work you started on Master Darque’s origin in “Shadowman” #0 with the one-shot story in “Shadowman” #10. Where do you pick up after the events of the zero issue?
Justin Jordan: There’s some time passing in between them. We’re getting to the point in Master Darque’s life where he starts to become the Master Darque we’ve seen in the series thus far. He isn’t quite there by the end of “Shadowman” #0, so there’s a couple steps of misery and torture we have to put the guy through before he becomes the truly evil bastard we all know and love.
One of the interesting aspects of “Shadowman” #0 is that it had much more to do with Master Darque than Shadowman. Considering the connection between the two characters, will readers see more about how the Shadowman powers developed in issue #10?
Jordan: Yes, that’s the plan.
Jody LeHeup: I think as we move through the second stage of story in terms of Master Darque and his origin, we’re going to see a lot more of the beginnings of the Loa and its connection to Master Darque. You mentioned there’s a long, rich history of these guys coming into conflict and in issue #10, we’ll start to explore a lot more about that.
Speaking of history, the zero issue was one of the first real time jumps the series had taken. Considering how much that history is a part of the Shadowman legend, how much it’s a part of the characters in the book, are those time jumps something you hope to include in the series more frequently moving forward?
Jordan: God, I hope so! There’s not a lot of point in having 250 years of history to draw upon if you don’t actually see it from time to time. I would actually like to see other Shadowmen before Jack and how they lived their lives and what happened to them. That’s something I would really like to get into as we move forward. That’s why I’ve really enjoyed doing the zero issue and issue #10 following it. We get to see more of that world and expand on stuff beyond what we’re seeing through Jack Boniface’s eyes.
Are there particular time periods in history that you’d really like to sink your teeth into?
Jordan: Oh yeah, the immediately post-Civil War antebellum era is always just fascinating. It’s when America resembles something we’d actually recognize as America, which was not necessarily the case after the Revolutionary War, but it’s a war that shaped an entire landscape, so I think it’s an inherently interesting place to be — especially for a black guy with supernatural powers. I would actually — just because I like the era — not mind seeing the World War II-era Shadowman at some point if we could swing it, and what he was doing while the world was engaged in that. What was going on in the supernatural side of things?
One of the characters you introduced in “Shadowman” #0 was Master Darque’s sister, Sandria, who helped make Master Darque a much more sympathetic character. What kind of plans do you have for her moving forward?
Jordan: Sandria is intimately involved with the Shadowman legacy and the origins of the Shadowman as is Master Darque, so that’s what we’re going to get to see in issue #10. She is also an integral part of why Master Darque eventually became the person he became. Whereas in #0, we saw the sympathetic side of him through Sandria’s eyes, I think in #10, we get to see the reasons for the evil side. They’re related to Sandria as well, that’s one of the defining relationships of his life.
“Shadowman” #0 had a great story, but it also gave you the opportunity to really delve into the mechanics of how Master Darque’s powers work — the rules and the laws of magic. Is that something you’ll do for the Shadowman powers as well?
Jordan: Yeah, I think so. We have a fairly long document that lists how all this stuff works. The trick is always getting that across to the reader in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re info dumping on them. One of the things that we defined with Master Darque in the zero issue is how magic works and especially Master Darque’s way of using it. Issue #10, I really would like to get into what the loa is capable of. We haven’t seen all of what it is capable of because we’re looking at it with Jack. Jack has been given a weapon that he doesn’t really know how to use. We haven’t seen all the things the loa can do, and that’s something I want to get into as we go forward. I think there’s a good chunk of rich narrative to be mined there that’s not just naked exposition. At least, it interests me, so I hope it interests the reader as well.
LeHeup: I think Justin’s done a really great job with the way that he’s handled magic in the series so far, making sure it doesn’t come out of nowhere and there’s a certain amount of structure to it. It’s set up and there’s certainly plenty of mysteries left to delve into. Namely, as Justin mentions, the abilities of the loa, its powers and what exactly it can be used for. Justin sent over a document on how he sees magic working, and it’s very, very smart. As the series moves forward, we’re going to see more answers and more world-building and possibilities for the future as pertains to the loa and Jack’s relationship with it.
In an origin story, readers have the opportunity to see the beginnings of heroes and villains. The entire Darque family seems really fascinating. Beyond Master Darque and Sandria, are you going to explore any of the extended family?
Jordan: Probably not in issue #10. I wouldn’t mind coming back to it later, there’s a lot more story that could be told with Master Darque’s father before what ultimately happens to him in issue #0, and that relates to the magic of the universe and the world that we’ve set up in our corner of the Valiant Universe. In issue #10, we’re probably not going to see any Darque family members that aren’t Sandria and Master Darque — at least, not at first.
LeHeup: Although, we might be seeing a certain rabbit make an appearance in “Shadowman” #8.
Jordan: That is true. Fans have been clamoring for the return of Hoffenfeffer, so we want to give them what they want. [Laughs]
“Shadowman” #10 also re-teams you with Roberto De La Torre, whom you worked with on “Shadowman” #0. How excited were you to write for Roberto again?
Jordan: Oh, God, I love Roberto. Probably more than is really healthy. If he reads this interview, he’s probably going to have to take out a restraining order.
I’m really happy to be working with Roberto again. He’s got a great feel for the book. It was really interesting to see him do the dead side and seeing him do the initial portions of “Shadowman” #0. Actually, everyone who worked on “Shadowman” #0 did a terrific job on that book. I think he’s got a real feel on how to tell this kind of story, which makes it easier to write. When I know it’s going to be Roberto doing it, it changes how I write things because he’s got a real good sense of how to tell that story, which is nice.
Jody, from an editorial standpoint, how important was it to bring Roberto back for that level of consistency across the flashback issues?
LeHeup: It was very important. Roberto is an amazing artist and perfectly cast on this book. He’s a fantastic storyteller, he brings such a great tone to what Justin’s putting together and I think he really elevated the zero issue to a whole new level. Bringing him on to issue #10 is a no-brainer. We’re very lucky to have him, he’s brilliant. Roberto is also going to be doing a few pages of issue #8, so we’ll get to see more of his beautiful art before we get to issue #10.
In the more immediate future, “Shadowman” #6 has a cliffhanger ending where readers found out Baron Samedi is trying to keep Master Darque from coming back. What’s coming up between now and issue #10?
Jordan: Issue #7, 8 and 9, we’re really going to get to see what Darque is doing on the dead side, and it is bad news. Samedi didn’t team up with Jack because Samedi’s a good guy, although he’s not entirely a bad guy either. Baron Samedi in the real world was a mercurial figure in the voodoo religion and this [version] reflects that, too. But, he’s teaming with Jack because Darque — after what Darque learned in Lyceum — is really bad news for literally everyone. Samedi is smart enough to see that and try to work against it.
Going into that, we’ll get to see why the Shadowman is an effective weapon against Darque and what the Shadowman is meant to do in terms of fighting Darque. Coming up, we’ll also get to see a little more of what happens to people when they die and just how horrible Master Darque is capable of making that.
We won’t see much of Dr. Mirage because she is smart enough to know that this is not her fight, and the abilities that she has are limited in this capacity.
LeHeup: There’s a lot going on in the next few issues before “Shadowman” #10. Basically, what we’re seeing here is a massive confrontation between Shadowman and Master Darque. As Justin mentions, some of the bad things that Darque is doing, but more importantly, these guys finally have their big battle. Justin’s got some pretty fantastic plans for how that’s going to go down.
Looking past issue #10, can you tease what you hope to explore as the series moves past this flashback issue?
Jordan: As we mentioned before, I’d like to get into the history of the Shadowman legacy and the Abettors some. I think there’s rich stuff to be mined there, but at the same time, moving forward, as we’ve seen in the first arc and in through this one, Jack’s allies are fairly limited. There aren’t many of the Abettors left, barely a skeleton. It wouldn’t even be fair to call it a skeleton of an organization. We’re looking at the pinky finger, is all that’s left. Going forward, he’s going to have to be rebuilding and figuring out what he’s going to do with this power that he’s been given and moreso how he’s going to do it. He’s kind of been dumped in the middle of this and doesn’t have all the information he should have. He’s going to rely on his experiences and instincts to make choices and they’re not always going to be the right ones, but he’s going to try to find a way to make it all work. Going forward, we’re going to be seeing a rebuilding of everything that was torn down before we got to the current “Shadowman” series.
Generally speaking, I would like to see a lot more of the supernatural corner of the universe that doesn’t involve Master Darque and the Brethren. We focused on that in the first arc, but there’s a lot more stuff going on as you can see by Baron Samedi being around and Dr. Mirage being around. There’s a much bigger world out there that we haven’t gotten to see yet. Exploring that is going to be the fun bit of the rest of the series.
“Shadowman” #10 hits stores in September.