Review: Shadowman #15 by Peter Milligan, Roberto da La Torre & Al Barrionuevo

Shadowman #15

Written by: Peter Milligan
Art by: Roberto de la Torre, Al Barrionuevo, and Brian Level
Colored by: David Baron and John Rauch
Lettered by: Dave Lanphear

Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Unfortunately, outside of some outstanding issues (mostly flashback issues like Shadowman 0 and 10), Shadowman has been my least favorite of the relaunched Valiant books, all in all. I always loved the old Shadowman series, and it really just feels like they often are trying to do too much with this series without having the same fun the original series did.  There isn’t much of a chance Aerosmith will be showing up to help fight demons in this one.

Summary (contains spoilers): Over the last few issues, there has been a lot of questions about how fit Jack Boniface is to continue being Shadowman. The Shadow Loa has been in the Boniface family for over a hundred years, and Jack seems to have had a history of violence and emotional issues even before he became Shadowman.  Others in Jack’s situation in the past have gone on to cause serious harm.

The other Abettors have told Alyssa that she needs to stop Jack. Alyssa had believed that the love she felt for Jack would help him overcome the Shadow Loa, but now she has doubts. Even the ghost of Jack’s old friend Dox seemed to agree that Jack needs to be killed.

Meanwhile, Jack has gone to apologize to someone he put in a wheelchair during his violent younger days. The man freaks out, and Jack flees back to his apartment. The Shadow Loa keeps offering to take over. Jack refuses and vows to get rid of the Loa once and for all.

Elsewhere, other Loa are plotting against Jack, determined to destroy the Shadow Loa before it gets too powerful. Jack really is racking up a lot of enemies in this one.

Alyssa calls Jack and they agree to meet up. Shadow Loa warns him that this is a trap. Alyssa refuses to do anything more to help the Abettors, who go to ambush Jack at the rendezvous site. Alyssa calls Jack to apologize for her betrayal.

The Abettors are looking to kill Jack and transfer the Loa to a willing host (a priest who happens to be related to Jack). Jack is quickly beaten down by the Abettors.

Alyssa once more encounter’s Dox’s ghost, and realizes that it is a fake. She was tricked to set up Jack! She races to save Jack, but is she too late?

Review: I actually was real glad for the last pages of this book when Alyssa realized that she had been tricked. As I read through this issue, I was sort of getting a Batwing vibe where the book seemed determined to do everything possible to tear down Jack before replacing him with a new Shadowman.

Wow, Bruce…really?  Can’t even pretend you liked the last Batwing?  “NOT YOUR FIRST CHOICE?”  And this is why Batman has no friends…

But it looks like that was all a swerve, and Jack might not be as screwed up as he has been led to believe.  I am real glad for that. I might not LOVE this book, but I do like this version of Jack and think he deserves a lot better than that. I definitely think Jack will be sticking around as Shadowman for the foreseeable future, though he might have to destroy his own Abettors to make that happen.

Milligan also really helped get this book back in focus. Yeah, there is a still a lot of Loa floating about (even more so), and the conspiracy against Jack seems to have come out of no where, but all in all, Shadowman has been a much tighter read over the last few issues, and this is probably the strongest arc of the series to date. I really can’t wait to see what Milligan can do with Master Darque!

One thing I have loved about these series all along is the art. The art of Shadowman has a perfect gravity and darkness to it, and Roberto de la Torre, Al Barrionuevo, and Brian Level gave it more of the same here. The ever present darkness is almost an entirely separate character in Shadowman, like Opal City in my beloved Starman, and the art team plays it up perfectly.

As I said when I started, Shadowman still is my least favorite of Valiant’s current series, but I enjoy it every month, and it definitely seems to be getting much better. Milligan was an inspired choice for taking over this series, and he seems to have big plans for Shadowman. Can’t wait to see where it takes us…as long as Jack is still along for the ride!

Final Score: 8.0: Shadowman has shown a lot of improvement in recent issues, and I hope that trend will continue! If nothing else, it is definitely Valiant’s best looking title!

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