The voodoo spirit that has bonded with Jack Boniface starts to wrest back control of Jack’s will in Peter Milligan and Valentine De Landro’s “Shadowman: End Times” #1, but Jack seems a lot less concerned about it than his girlfriend Alyssa, the secret order that trained him and just about everyone else who knows him. Milligan’s own concern is palpable, as well, as Jack’s gradual takeover by the Loa is pretty much the only plot element that this issue’s twenty six pages deals with.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than this sole plot point starts to run a little thin over the course of two dozen pages. The extra content is a welcome bonus that comes at no additional charge to readers, but Milligan has to stretch his story out to fill. That’s about the worst that can be said for the issue, though, as Milligan advances the conflict that Jack had been dealing with in the main title since he took over the writing duties there. There’s even a surprising revelation regarding Jack’s father, who Milligan focuses on as the issue kicks off. That flashback sequence is mimicked later on by in present day, which establishes a clear parallel and similarity between father and son, but the repetition also plays into the issue’s undue longevity.
The safehouses for the Abettor secret order seem to be the go-to place when the Shadowman of any given generation is acting up, and in this issue they also seem to be a nice quiet place to have a book club meeting. The significant others of the senior and junior Bonifaces show up at these locations, are questioned, but then nothing comes of it, other than to perhaps enjoy a cup of tea. Presumably the relevance will be established in future issues, but here these puzzling albeit brief sequences seem misplaced.
De Landro uses an appropriately vague and shadowy style that’s befitting of the character and the paranormal feel of the title, which works well with medium and long distance shots. Close-ups are a little inconsistent, though, especially faces and facial expressions. His traditional layouts are evocative of the old Valiant house style, but with a little more style; they move the story along without any kind of splashy attention grabbing.
David Baron’s colors establish the mood and setting in a similarly simple fashion; outdoor nighttime scenes are largely in indigo hues, while indoor sequences are embellishing with a warmer candlelight tones. Giuseppe Camuncoli delivers a strikingly contrasted cover, with a dark outline of Shadowman and his white, glowing scythe against the backdrop of a flaming swampland. It’s the kind of cover that’s attractive enough to dismiss any objection that it’s unrepresentative of the interior contents.
“Shadowman: End Times” #1 is a slow but enticing enough introduction that convincingly indicates that the character is on the verge of something significant. It’s a worthwhile and completely accessible comic, even for those who hadn’t tried “Shadowman.”