There were two distinctly different “Shadowman” comics that Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher could have drawn from for their own “Shadowman” revival. The first, published by Valiant, started out as an underwhelming vigilante comic that Bob Hall took over and transformed into a dark mixture of superhero, voodoo, and other occult elements. The second, from Acclaim Comics, kept only the name but instead had Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano, Ashley Wood, and Charles Adlard dip fully into the horror genre. The reason why this is important is because Jordan and Zircher seem to delight in confounding anyone who looked solely to one or the other “Shadowman” that this would be the heir to. Instead, it’s gleefully taking inspiration from both.
With “Shadowman” #2, Jordan and Zircher (who are co-writing the book) start serving up answers even as they introduce new mysteries and ideas. Some of the basics are certainly things that the readers probably figured out already — just what the amulet that Jack discarded in the first issue had done, and whom the demon Twist is serving — but it’s still nice to see it explained instead of being drawn out for months or years. Jordan and Zircher appear to be operating on a faster pace than many comics; introduce a surprise, but then begin its resolution almost instantly. The end result is a series that feels like it’s going to stay fresh because it’s forever giving us answers and only then asking more questions.
Jack himself feels like a good protagonist; he’s a little bewildered like anyone suddenly plunged into elements like demons, loa, or the Deadside would be, but at the same time Jordan and Zircher keep him from coming across like an idiot. His befuddlement is handled with just the right time limit before we move on to the next new piece of information. That said, it’s Alyssa Myles who grabbed my attention the most here. “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” had Jordan write the strong female character of Petra with great success, and Alyssa feels like she’s in a slightly similar vein. She’s strong and self-assured, and I like the idea that she’ll be the one doling out the knowledge that Jack is lacking. So often the information brokers end up being physically weak to balance their advantage out, but “Shadowman” #2 has her as a force to be reckoned with in her own right when she and Dox come to save Jack from the demon attack.
Zircher’s art is great. He’s able to make the demons sufficiently gruesome and nasty to look at, and can then turn around and draw attractive characters like Devereaux or Alyssa. There’s nice detail packed into every page, from the little lines to help delineate individual hairs in Dox’s facial hair, to the packed bookshelves and ornate spires that are just two of the backgrounds we get this issue. Zircher’s been an artist who has continued to get stronger throughout his career, and it’s nice that his “Shadowman” work is by far his most attractive to date.
With two issues now out on stands, “Shadowman” feels like it’s another success for Valiant. When it was first announced, the Valiant revival felt like it could have easily been a false nostalgia for a defunct comic company. What we’re getting instead is a series of strong revamps that take the core ideas for the titles and turn them into fun, modern comics. Jordan and Zircher have given us a winner with “Shadowman.” I’m definitely sticking around for issue #3 and beyond.