This cover feels like a metaphor for something. I have no idea what.

Publisher: Vault

Writer – Cavan Scott
Artist – Corin Howell
Colourist – Triona Farrell
Letterer – Andworld design

When last we saw Gina she was being chased through the streets by Aashi who got some awesome backstory. If you enjoyed that issue you might be disappointed to learn that sadly Aaashi and the rest of MI666 are MIA in this issue, as the focus shifts back to Gina and her backstory with Gideon Quill and Edwin the rat. Not that that is a bad thing as the mystery surrounding Gina is one of the central themes of the book.

We don’t get answers to the central Gina questions – What is she? How does she do the magic? Why is she special? but we do get answers to questions like how exactly did she end up with a talking rat for a friend? Where’s her mother now? And why does she owe Gideon Quill? 

We already know Gina’s backstory into her foster care years but here we see an angry teenager busy using magic in all the wrong ways, such as stealing cigarettes. Pretty sure Harry Potter never did that (and why yes there is a Harry Potter reference in this issue hence why I am making one in this review). 

Luckily she comes across Edwin the magical talking rat in an alley and he recognises her potential for both magic and attracting danger. I am intrigued by Edwin’s backstory and I am hopeful we’ll get more of that at some point. Here though we see how he takes on the friend/mentor role. 

Later on while battling the zombie of her mother (entirely Gina’s fault) Gideon Quill rushes in with guns and saves her. Hence her owing him and being prepared to trust him when a sane person would think that anyone who has guns on them and races through graveyards to save you from zombies is probably hiding a lot of really scary secrets. Scary secrets like contact lenses that let you see demonic entities as they are, as in the present Gideon and Gina get ready to meet the queen of the underworld. 

The way the flashbacks segue into the current plot is well done and never feels shoehorned in. I like to call this good backstory exposition. I am sure there’s a better term but that’s what I am going with.

The humour is still front and centre in between the drama and angsty backstory (and even within it) which I like. There’s a joke about a phone that’s bugged that gave me a genuine laugh out loud moment. Even when faced with awful things there’s still that humour and that balance is why I have enjoyed this book so far.

So props to Cavan Scott’s writing on that front. 

Also props to Corin Howell’s art which is showing the reader that the darker supernatural side is really rather creepy in all the best ways, giving new twists to the looks of demons and zombies for example, but staying true to the traditional form. The creepy safe house is also well realised along with the bug moment, the art of which really sells it.

As always the colouring by Triona Farrell is excellent too. The purples that surround Gina in the past and inform her magic even to the present being a real standout example.

I will also say the lettering by Andworld Design continues the theme of good work by the team creatives. There’s some really nice subtle changes in the words spoken by human characters and words spoken as magic or by supernatural beings. 

We end as usual with a cliffhanger and I worry for Edwin’s choices, Gina’s non-fashion choices, Quill’s stupid choices and whatever choices the queen of the underworld is planning on. 

If you are enjoying Shadow Service you will continue to enjoy it. However, although this is probably not the most jump on friendly issue, what is interesting is that it furnishes the reader with a lot more background even though we’re still waiting for the answers. I look forward to them.

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