Despite all the criticisms we've had of DC's New 52 or the Marvel NOW thing, one can't deny that it's pretty cool to be getting in on entire universe on the ground floor. That's been the case with the relaunch and revamp of Valiant Comics. These are characters with some histories which I knew nothing about, and it seems you don't have to in order to like what's happening now. X-O Manowar is interesting, Archer & Armstrong is fun, Bloodshot is messed up, Harbinger is… something, and now comes Shadowman #1, with a cover sporting a guy who looks like a ninja Nightcrawler with face paint.
Of course, I forgot about that cover image once I opened the book, and got a look at Josiah Boniface without initially noting the 'Some Time Ago' caption. The guy on the cover looks fairly cool, but Josiah's sickle-wielding trenchcoat look seemed pretty awesome. That is, until he vanishes into some creepy nether-dimension while fighting a Felix Fausty guy named Darque, and we jump to many years later. That's when I realized Josiah isn't the main character, but the father of the main character.
Jack Boniface is a handsome young buck who keeps looking like an elf despite not being one. I'm not sure if it's my eyes playing tricks or something in the way writer/artist Patrick Zircher is drawing the guy, but pick the book up and you tell me if I'm hallucinating. Anyway, Jack is in New Orleans, trying to find out who his father was, as his mother, Helena, was pregnant with him when Josiah vanished, and she'd left him anyway to keep their unborn son safe from creepy crawlies. He's been wearing a special amulet bequeathed from his father, and his mother vanished never to return the very day she gave it to him.
That makes it all the more surprising when he gets the files on his parents and find out they have an extensive rap sheet there in The Big Easy. So Jack tears off the amulet in disgust, not realizing that was the only thing hiding him from creepy crawlies like Mr. Twist, who is supremeley freakin' creepy. A mangled mess of fleshy parts with multiple eyes and mouths all over his body as well as a weirdly erudite manner of speaking, this guy is evil immediately. Lucky for Jack, losing the amulet also enabled the Shadowman power to find him at last.
It's a compelling story from writers Zircher and Justin Jordan, with balls-out cool art from Zircher that really brings home the ick-factor of Mr. Twist. It seems as though the Shadowman power has its own personality, as there looks to be no learning curve for Jack. As soon as it grabs him, he's talking like he's always been Shadowman. I look forward to finding out more about Dox, the eloquently cantankerous dwarf who will likely drop all sorts of exposition next issue. If you've gotta do that, having it come from a guy like that makes it go down a lot easier.
Shadowman #1 is another solid entry in the Valiant Comics superherouniverse. Go team!