Book Review: “Shadowman: Birth Rites”

Shadowman* * * B

I picked up the first volume (issues 1-4) of Shadowman. Written by Justin Jordan with artwork by Patrick Zircher, this book introduces Jack Boniface, a man who, upon throwing away a protective amulet given to him by his dead mother, becomes the target of sinister supernatural forces in New Orleans. When attacked, he is possessed by a loa (voodoo spirit), becoming the Shadowman. He is helped by two magicians, the dwarf Dox and Dox’s protege, Alyssa.

The villain of the story, Darque, is seeking to return to our world after studying at a university in another dimension. He sends his minion, Twist, to prepare the way for him. Learning of the return of his enemy, the Shadowman, in a new incarnation, he tasks Twist and his allies, the Brethren, to take out the Shadowman and open the gateway so that he can return.

The writing is good, matching the artwork, but I found the introduction very jarring. The Shadowman’s backstory is given barely a thumbnail sketch before the book jumps straight into the action, possibly because it’s rebooting a character from the nineties. That’s unfortunate, since a character slowly discovering his abilities is often the funnest part of a fantasy story like this.

Once the book gets going, the pace improves, slowing down a little and providing more explanation of what’s going on. By the end of the book, none of the characters are well motivated; hopefully they’ll be fleshed out in later volumes. The first volume comes to a satisfying conclusion, not merely ending in a cliffhanger (which it does) but capping some of the plot threads that wandered through the first four issues. I intend to, when I find it, pick up the next volume.

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About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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