Shadowman #1 – by Justin Jordan, Patrick Zircher and Brian Reber
Shadowman issue one is concise, punchy, and gets us where we should be, fast. It’s also that rare thing in superhero comics, a comic with a largely black cast.
Within two pages Jordan & Zircher have introduced vital characters, established a history, given explosive action, and deployed said characters as the devices that they are (or should be). Justin and Patrick push simple buttons, but it’s not a bad thing. By giving us family and something at stake, we are immediately given something to care for. This was something which I lamented in The Telikos Protocol last week, which had little real character development and hinted at importance but I didn’t have anything to hold on to. Here I do.
This isn’t to say that the word craft here is clunky and obvious, it’s not. Equally, it’s not going to blow your mind away with innovation, either. There are times that you might think it’s not relevant like Jack’s breakfast in the diner, and that *is* frippery. What this frippery does though is build an easy going element in to Jack’s character, and, again, invests you in our guy. Expositionally speaking little is spelled out. Assumption is required, but why not? A large battle between a hero and a villain is a large battle between a hero and a villain, right? You’ve seen it before, you’ll see it again. It’s important what this means to the story. Again, it is there as a device, and the melee might feel like a jump at the time, but it gives weight to the principle cast member later. His strength is undoubted.
Zircher’s pencils are detailed enough, in that there’s appreciable amounts of background business, which gets dialled back for the reaction shots. In other words another standard method utilised well. Speaking of which the character design is fantastic, and PZ has a great handle on the human form. These, and other elements of the storytelling are definably helped by the panelling. Again, this isn’t some magical Mack masterpiece, but it’s slightly different to the norm, with a simple and effective style. If I’m sounding over analytical I apologise, but I really think that on debuts you have some boxes to tick, and sometimes the easiest way to achieve that is through thinking laterally and logically. But anyone who doubt’s Patrick Zircher’s might should really just check out his Brubaker work, which you probably already own.
The overall art style I’d probably put it up against would be Esquejo & Oback’s in Mind The Gap over at image. There’s obviously *way* more going on here, but I think the similarity is the colours and shading. Brian Reber’s work there showing some distinction between (despite being similar throughout) the more horrific and more normal scenes. Perhaps it’s the combination of his style with Zircher’s. It does feel very accessible, though.
So, I like Shadowman #1 a lot. It doesn’t remind me of anything much, and this is a good thing. It’s fresh, slightly dark and new.