While the cover of “Shadowman” #13 boasts an “All-New Creative Team! All-New Beginning!” I find Peter Milligan’s story to be more impenetrable than a standard-issue new beginning for a comic book. Granted, this is the thirteenth issue of this volume, but to this point, Valiant has done an admirable job of making the soft reboots for their comic book approachable and cooperative.
Peter Milligan climbs into the writer’s chair and pours mystery and darkness into “Shadowman” #13. That is certainly appropriate for the title but it doesn’t make the story very easy for newer readers. Luckily the cast is limited to a handful of characters that remain rather distinct throughout this tale. The summary in the “Story So Far…” segment from the inside front cover provides clues for the reader to piece together the components of the actual story in this comic book. Milligan gives readers slivers of the characters, just enough to help define the settings and scenario without truly making any of the characters overly engaging. Furthermore, Milligan doesn’t provide the hook of why Shadowman should be worthy of a comic book appearance, let alone his own title.
The art from Roberto de la Torre with colors from David Baron is sharp and invigorating. De la Torre uses a fair amount of photo reference, not unlike that of Alex Maleev’s art. Baron’s colors, however, are more emotional shading than realistic tones. The color work is similar to the application of gels on a black and white film. The grayscales enhance the primary color, but the color itself sets the true mood for the story. The visuals are even more effective for the flashback sequences, which are washed-out grayscale images largely devoid of absolute boundary. De la Torre’s art is refreshing and enjoyable, completely well suited for the story of a Loa haunting the living.
I expected a more welcoming story from “Shadowman” #13 than what I found, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t an enjoyable tale. As with all Valiant titles, this is a fine detour from the same-old same-old, but it doesn’t quite have the hook other recent releases from Valiant have had. There’s plenty of mystery and intrigue, but “Shadowman” #13 could have used more of each to lure and lock in newer readers. I’ll be back for more, I’m sure, but I’m not yet counting down the days until my next encounter with Shadowman. Hopefully in the next issue, Milligan and de la Torre will give readers more to grow with.