Valiant Hero Of The Week: Shadowman
Every Monday for the next few weeks, Valiant Entertainment is running a poll on Twitter to provide fans with some escapism while new comics are in short supply. The poll allows Valiant fans the opportunity to select the “Hero Of The Week” from four choices. That week’s hero will then be the focus of free pdfs featuring the character, videos from Valiant staff, giveaways and more. This week, the poll featured Shadowman, Punk Mambo, Tama and Savage.
This week’s winner was…
Who is he? Jack Boniface is a man possessed by the Shadowman loa, a legacy that was passed to him from his father. As the Shadowman, Jack and the loa must defend New Orleans from supernatural threats. Shadowman was one of the second round of characters in the original Valiant universe, after Solar, Magnus and Turok, and he made an early appearance in the modern era, too, debuting again late in 2012. I’ve actually read more of the original run of Shadowman than I have the modern comics, and as such a lot of what I know about the character doesn’t really apply here, but across both iterations, Shadowman remains one of the more interesting comic book characters with his ties to voodoo and the afterlife.
What should you read?
Shadowman: Birth Rites
There are a million dreams in the Big Easy. But now its worst nightmare is about to come true.
As the forces of darkness prepare to claim New Orleans as their own, Jack Boniface must embrace the legacy he was born to uphold. As Shadowman, Jack is about to become the only thing that stands between his city and an army of unspeakable monstrosities from beyond the night. But is the mantle of Shadowman a blessing or a curse? And what is the true cost of his otherworldly power?
I don’t remember whether this was the first story I read with Shadowman in it or not, but it is the one that helped me understand the most about the character’s origins in the modern Valiant era, and so it’s fitting that this is the place you should start reading, as well.
Shadowman: Fear Blood and Shadows
When a troubled young man with a history of violence and a penchant for blackouts meets an overwhelming source of power with a mystical scythe, the results are doomed to be destructive. A voodoo loa has possessed Jack Boniface – or so he believes. But after Jack awakens in an alleyway covered in blood, he embarks on a journey across lands of shadows and death to discover if he can expel the dark force that’s seized control of his life…and which may be responsible for a violent rampage throughout New Orleans…
One of the more interesting Shadowman stories I’ve read, this volume focuses on Jack confronting his own demons as well as those from the other side. It’s a return to form after the second and third (which are obviously not listed here), and has much more of a horror feel to them than the previous volumes.
On a scarred landscape, two otherworldly armies prepare to battle one last time, vying for control of a massive tower named from an ancient language no longer permitted to be spoken.
One army is led by a primeval force named Babel, whose goal is singular: to breach “Heaven” no matter the cost. The only thing standing in his way is a gray-haired barbaric warrior, filled with rage and regret, a man who sees this battle as his last chance for redemption. But he knows his depleted forces have little chance of victory unless aid comes.
Enter Tama: A 12-year old girl on the crest of a hill overlooking the battle, who has just become humanity’s only hope. The last in an ancient line of mystics who protect the Earth, she has foreseen this battle and knows millions will perish if she’s unable to stop it. Now Tama and her ragtag team of malcontents – Ninjak, Shadowman and Punk Mambo – must somehow defeat an elder god hell bent on piercing the heavens.
This brings a lot more of the Valiant universe together than you would have seen if you’ve only been reading the Shadowman books. Here you’ll be introduced to Ninjak and Tama, the Geomancer. Rapture was a really fun read from beginning to end, and touches a lot more on the supernatural side of things than it doesn’t, which often leaves Ninjak as the fish out of water character. I enjoyed this book more than I expected as a Ninjak fan because of how well it introduced readers to characters they may not have been familiar with.
Shadowman: Fear of the Dark
Orphaned as a child and raised on the margins of society, Jack Boniface never knew his place in the world. Until he discovered it waiting for him… in a darkness far older than the reign of men…
Unbeknownst to him, Jack was fated to become the next in a long lineage of Shadowmen – mortals bound to loas, violent voodoo spirits of immense power – that could safeguard our world against incursions from realms beyond.
For years, Jack struggled to control his loa’s murderous urges – a battle he eventually lost.
But now, after years of self-imposed exile, the man once known as Shadowman is returning home to sharpen the weapon within…and unleash a reckoning on the evils of our world that will soon send shockwaves through heaven and hell alike…
The first collection from the second volume of Shadowman finds Jack Boniface learning about the past as he tries to reclaim his life after spending years in the Deadside (the events of which you can read about in Ninjak: Operation Deadside). This volume was probably my favorite of all the Shadowman books that I’ve read so far because it brings new readers so well into the mythos. Whether you need to read the others before enjoying this, well, that’s debatable. I don’t think so, but then I’m pretty familiar with the character…
It’s worth noting that you can get Deluxe Editions of many of these stories that collect what amounts to three trades in a hardcover. They are comparatively better valued, but present a higher initial cost (based on standard retail pricing not including sales and discounts). They’re my personal preference.
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