In “Shadowman” #1, there was enough of Shadowman’s origin that the idea of a #0 might have sounded a little surprising to some readers. That’s probably why “Shadowman” #0 instead has Justin Jordan, Roberto De La Torre and Mico Suayan tackle the origin of nemesis Master Darque; after being a presence in the background pulling the strings, it was definitely time to see what made the character tick.
Jordan’s take of Master Darque’s origin not only shows the birth of Nicodemo Darque, but also his twin sister Sandria Darque. Considering that Sandria had always been the more interesting of the two back in the original “Shadowman” series, it’s nice to see that she’ll be sticking around. Her narration brings a certain level of humanity to “Shadowman” #0, which is good; as the only half-decent person in this entire comic, seeing things through her eyes let Jordan remind us that neither Master Darque nor his father (whom, for lack of a better name we might as well call Darque Senior) are supposed to be admirable people.
The script itself is a tough one to handle at times, though, perhaps because of that problem with two of the three protagonists. Master Darque at least has good intentions that are misguided, but Darque Senior is such a rotten character that near the end of the comic, it’s hard to buy his motivations. It’s in many ways the weakest part of the comic; Master Darque and Sandria end up being characters who are interesting enough to carry their parts of the story, but Darque Senior plunges into a realm where you just raise your eyebrow in response. Fortunately it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing Darque Senior and his antics again (although this is a comic about the undead), so it’s ultimately forgivable.
De La Torre provides most of the pencils for the issue, and his art looks great. His crisp lines that border on the edge of photorealism are just the right choice for “Shadowman” #0, because it gives an extra level of creepiness when things start plunging into the realm of awful for the characters. Sandria’s stunned expression after the death of her pet is unsettling, one that sells Jordan’s script perfectly, and in general the interactions of the two kids has a certain familiarity in the way that they’re drawn that you buy their closeness. Suayan’s pages are a bit looser and also more detailed, and I’m happy with them too. Considering the fantastical nature of those pages, having Suayan draw that sequence actually makes perfect sense; I feel that they’re playing more to Suayan’s traditional comic book style than De La Torre’s.
“Shadowman” #0 is a pleasing if extremely dark comic, no pun intended. The Darques are hardly a character that you want to read about for too long, but this one-off story giving their story comes at just the right moment in the narrative. Hopefully we’ll see this information integrated back into the rest of the series before too long. All in all, another solid issue from the comic.