SMALL PRESS REVIEWS AND CEREBRATING LIFE'S LITTLE WONDERS
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Review -- SHADOWMAN #13
(Peter Milligan / Roberto de la Torre / David Baron / Dave Lanphear / Alejandro Arbona; Valiant)
The Blood. The Vomit. The Bodies. In the world of Shadowman, if you're Jack Boniface, you've got some problems. First off, you've got violent psychotic tendencies and you're possessed by the Shadowman Loa. Next, the people who are supposed to be on your side, the Abettors ... well, now they want to kill you.
What you need is a Mambo, a punk rock backwoods priestess whose spirit guide is Sid Vicious and whose ritual of separation involves sniffing glue.
Oh, and one more thing, “Before she helps you... she'll want a human skull.”
This is the central plot for Shadowman #13 from Valiant. The cover of this issue screams “ALL-NEW ARC! ALL-NEW BEGINNING! ALL-NEW TEAM!” so, if you missed Shadowman issues 1-12, this is what you call one of those jumping on points.
I recommend that you take that leap.
Oh, and that “ALL-NEW TEAM” Valiant is screaming about? Well it happens to be Peter Milligan and Roberto de la Torre. Now I've been a huge fan of Milligan's since his X-Force/X-Statix run in the early 2000's, but withShadowman #13 he seems to be exploring a world more shaded with darkness than satire. And speaking of shading, let's talk about de la Torre's loose line work and interesting perspective choices. His art adds to the “not-quite-of-this-world” tone Milligan is creating.
Adding a further layer to this is the fog-shrouded color palette of David Baron. The art team have made this book moist, dripping, with humidity and sweat. Even though there is little kinetic action in the narrative, each panel pulses with potential energy, a fecundity of possibility, as everything seems to be on the verge of blowing up or blossoming into something evil. There's a dank heaviness to these pages that adds tension and dread.
When art and narration work in such harmonious congress? Well, we got ourselves a damn fine comic.
In a recent interview with Bloody Disgusting about his work on Shadowman, Milligan said, “I see the book staying dark. And not afraid to get weird.” For me, when a guy like Mulligan starts bandying about the adjective “weird,” it makes my small heart grow three times in size and I find the true meaning of Christmas and the strength of ten Grinches, (plus two)!
All the Valiant titles I've read since their relaunch have been top notch books, and they've quickly cemented themselves as a publisher whose output is constantly on my radar. Whomever the people that are making the talent and editorial decisions over there are, they should all be given a HUGE X-mas bonus.
The Blood. The Vomit. The Bodies. Yeah, this is Milligan and de la Torre's Shadowman – it's not going to be pretty, but it just might be spectacular. As Milligan writes on the final page of this book, “The REALLY scary thing is – this is only just beginning.”