I first read this book around Halloween last year which was probably the first treat I’ve received around that date in…. oh far longer than I care to think about. Although if I’m honest I only went trick or treating the once when I was around 14 because it wasn’t a thing that we did in my home town (which was in England, where Halloween wasn’t celebrated the same way as it is in the US and Canada twenty odd years ago – it may still not be as big a deal, but I haven’t lived there in fifteen years so I don’t honestly know). Regardless, when I read the early version of Valiant’s Shadowman #5, I was pretty damn excited.
Shadowman #5 kicks off the Deadside War, something we’ve seen writer and horror extraordinaire Cullen Bunn build toward over the previous four issues of Shadowman. What I found interesting, and kinda cool, was how Bunn used the dialogue between Alyssa and Jack to gently remind readers of the events in previous issues as it has been some time between the fourth and fifth issues (at least three months given that I read a rough version of this back in October and forgot to review it).
Of course, being an early version, the colouring work of Jordie Bellaire hadn’t been applied to the pages, so I didn’t get to see the finished product until this week. It was a long wait, I won’t lie, but it was well worth it.
The comic, written by Bunn, with art by Pedro Andreo and colors by Jordie Bellaire, is by far and wide the best thing Valiant has published in a while, but it’s also among the very best of comics that are coming out right now. For my money (and despite getting review copies, I’m still buying this) Shadowman tops everything being published right now. It’s hard for me to overstate how much I love this book, and even harder to stay away from too much hyperbolic wording, but flipping through this book will give you an idea. Andreo’s art in this comic is breathtaking, and while no small part of that is because of Bellaire, Andreo gives the colourist a great base to build from as she plays with layers of subtle colouring and shades to pull your eyes across the page.
I’m also super happy that Cullen Bunn is back; his approach with Shadowman’s character has been remarkably enjoyable. Despite this being a fifth issue, you’re still able to pick it up and enjoy the story even with only minor knowledge as to who the character is because of how Bunn frames the story within the comic. There’s a little bit of politicking involved, a bit of action, and a good chunk of intrigue. More than anything, however, is the sense that there’s a little more than we see going on. It’s almost uneasy, and it works to keep you paying attention.
If you’ve never read a Shadowman comic, then this is a better place than most to start what has been one of Valiant’s better series in recent years. Shadowman #5 is simply amazing in every way. There’s not much else to be said.
Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Pedro Andreo
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.7 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review