There are comics that you read that stand out. Shadow Doctor has been that series for me. The story focuses on Nathaniel Calloway the grandfather of the writer of the series. In the 1930s, Nathaniel became a doctor and struggled to open a practice of his own due to the color of his skin. To raise the funds, he turns to Al Capone, an old friend of his, for help. This is his true story about his regrets and triumphs and it’s a story so amazing it’s hard to believe it’s true. Shadow Doctor #4 continues the wild ride as Nathaniel reflects on his death bed the spiral his decision to Capone caused while also delivering a glimmer of hope.
Written by Peter Calloway, Shadow Doctor #4 is a solemn issue in many ways. Nathaniel reflects on what it meant to go to Capone for help. He was now the mob’s doctor. In the evenings he had to fix wounds from battle which then healed the criminals to go out and do more harm. As a doctor, he had an obligation to heal but in his role he was only causing more harm. He was also caught in a tight spot as he wasn’t reporting what he was seeing to the police making him in Capone’s pocket even more than he already was.
Calloway does an amazing job of depicting the tough spot and regrets his grandfather had about what he did. There’s a clear sadness and understanding his actions caused more harm and death. But, Peter also gives us hope. In a part of the comic that reverberates today, Nathaniel discusses how the Black community saw him as the “devil”. They didn’t trust the science or medicine and refused to go to him for help. The White community did as well as they didn’t want to be cared for by a Black man. That left his days empty while his evenings he took care of the mob.
It’s an interesting part of the comic as we see some of these issues today. The African American community has an understandable distrust in medicine due to hundreds of years of mistreatment. COVID vaccinations for example lag in the community due to that mistrust as structural issues. It’s interesting that things haven’t changed in almost 100 years. Understandably so.
The art by Georges Jeanty is fantastic. With color by Juancho! and lettering by Charles Pritchett, Nathaniel’s regrets are almost catalogued panel by panel. We see Nathaniel pull out bullets and stitch up stab wounds. As he reflects on counting all of the damage from war he healed, we too see the sadness. It’s presented as almost Nathaniel is trying to remember them all in that moment. We the reader are forced to witness it all. But, through all of that, there’s hope. The latter half of the comic gives us a glimmer of good and the last panel is an almost 180 from the sadness that preceded it.
Shadow Doctor #4 is another amazing issue in an amazing story. Its details reverberate today in many ways and it serves as a reminder of how things haven’t changed and for good reason. We as a nation are still paying for the crimes committed. Shadow Doctor #4 is a reminder that there is still so much more work to be done.
Story: Peter Calloway Art: Georges Jeanty
Color: Juancho! Letterer: Charles Pritchett
Story: 10 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9.25 Recommendation: Buy
AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW