Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: Valiant Masters: SHADOWMAN VOL.1 - SPIRITS WITHIN

Valiant Masters: Shadowman Volume 1 - Spirits Within HcFrom the back of the book:
Jack Boniface nearly died one night - attacked by something out of a nightmare. But since that terrifying experience something has changed. Now, when darkness falls, a feeling comes over him, an urge to destroy the demons that would defile the New Orleans night. Wild, reckless, and hell-bent on eliminating evil in all its forms, Jack is now his city's new protector - the nocturnal avenger simply called Shadowman. A deluxe hardcover collecting Shadowman's legendary first appearance in the original Valiant Universe, featuring classic work by Steve Ditko, Steve Englehart, Bob Hall, David Lapham, Jim Shooter, and more, this volume collects Shadowman (1992) #0-7, and material from Darque Passages (1994) #1.

My Review:
A collection such as this which doesn't have a singular narrative voice by virtue of the condensed story arc's and 'one-and-done' individual issue reads makes it difficult to review in the traditional form as I would a graphic novel or single story arc - so I'm changing things up with this one, referring to keynotes rather than a holistic review (which I don't think would do the collection justice).

The character has a personal life, whilst the darkness is always lurking beneath, Jack Boniface, Jazz musician and single guy in New Oreleans has romantic encounters and also has to explain his bumps and bruises to his friends and acquaintances. This is a vigilante series that goes beyond the superhero facade. 

The pre UNITY SAGA issues (#1-3) read well as standalone's and were atmospheric.

The UNITY SAGA tie-in issues (#4-5) were seamlessly integrated into the overarching narrative.

Favorite moment - when Jack appears from beneath the swamp water in #6, the first post UNITY SAGA issue, seemingly only moments before diving beneath the surface in #3 - a great way to maintain continuity.  

I would've liked this volume to have included SHADOWMAN #8 as the conclusion of #7 felt like it needed another issue to finish the plot at a logical point. That aside, this was a great collection. 

Maxim St James, the Shadowman of SHADOWMAN #0 is great - from the origin, design and temperament - I'll def be tracking down back issues from the 1990's to see if he appears more.

I loved the characters listed in DARQUE PASSAGES #1 such as Darque's minions, Mademoiselle Jannie Noir, Abdul, Jawib - these are character's I'd like to see revisited by Valiant at some stage. 

In summary - I was very pleased with this collection and will need to look at some of the other Valiant Masters material

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