Last night I followed up on my reading of Shadowman Vol 1 with a volume 2 and 3 read. Though I’m going to condense into one post, though will review separately.
Shadowman Volume 2 consists of issues #5-9 which continue the plotline of Darque trying to get back to the regular world. He’s hooked up with the “King of the Dead Side” who is skull and bones, super creepy, great art. He lives in a giant manner separate, out of touch from even this dark reality of ghosts and ghouls. The king is named Samedi, and he takes over a host in the real world in spectacular and disturbing fashion. Shadowman is confronted with him and they form an uneasy alliance to work together against Darque, who is fast taking over the dead side. The takeover and all that is a bit rushed compared to the rest of the storyline, without much development. I think they could have taken a little time to tell us more of who Darque was, but with a name like that and the whole dead side ghouls, we get that he’s bad, and we do have a fast paced action story to deal with on top of that. It’s something that could be explored more. There’s perhaps a bit too many concepts and factions here with Darque not getting explained, Samedi the same, then the Brethren who we know little about, and then Shadowman’s group, the Abettors – we know just as little about them. It still works as a story even though I’d like some more depth, definitely leaving room for future installments to develop these. If they had been developed prior to this confrontation, however, it would have exceeded the emotional impact. Still, because of the fun pace, I thought the story was great.
The art is great too. The problems I had with the coloring in the first volume seem to have gone away here, even with the first issue. I don’t know if the colorists got better or they switched, I didn’t notice. About the middle of the volume, the artist leaves and gets replaced with several. Some people say they found that jolting, but I thought it was fine. Wasn’t up to the standards of issues 5-6 in the volume, but still rather on the excellent side. This volume overall and storyline I rate a 9/10 as it could have had a little more to make it perfect but I am very much intrigued with the character.
Then there’s Shadowman Volume 3. This one starts with a #0 backstory and has 10-12 in addition to that. And the series starts to lose focus fast.
#0 is a backstory of Darque’s sister, which is intriguing and interesting. It shows how she’s connected to the Bonifaces, the origin of Shadowman through magic, and how she came to be. I was almost hoping they wouldn’t introduce her yet, as we had so much to learn about Darque himself, which we get glimpses of but still not a full picture here, and of Samedi and the Abettors…. All of which gets dropped. I like the art here, but it reads like a back story despite trying to make it into something. Good history, but it’s an info-dump of an issue. What’s weird is that issue #10 doesn’t further the current storyline either, but delves back further into backstory again. The series really goes off the rails a bit here. I’m glad for the history, but some of this should have been intertwined in the last story arc, and some of it with the sister should have been saved for later when she makes an appearance in the current timeline. After that, we get a bizarre Halloween Special for #11, which isn’t connected to anything and ignores a lot of the storyline for a quick fight-fest. Issue #12 devolves further into a series of vignettes by different writers and artists, like they couldn’t keep the team together to work on the storyline. These add very little to shadowman, and I had to force myself to read them. It was rough. I think we had an epic start for the first volumes, with some cool history unfolding, and then the rough times came.
The art in this collection varies in quality wildly. It’s all over the map and seems to get worse with each subsequent issue. Kind of sad to watch, as this had a lot of potential. Overall, the backstory of 0 and 10 are okay, but skippable, and 11-12 aren’t worth the read. 5/10