Writer – Cavan Scott
Artist – Corin Howell
Colourist – Triona Farrell
Letterer – Andworld design
Before we get into reviewing Shadow Service #9 properly I have to say that there was something that very much annoyed me about this book, right on the first page. Sash windows in a building where we’ve flashbacked to 1582. I know we don’t know what John Dee’s house looked like (it’s long since been demolished) but sash windows are a later 1600’s thing. The currently earliest surviving examples date from the 1670’s. No Tudor dwelling would have windows like that in 1582. I realise that I am nitpicking a very specific historical accuracy in a book that has demons and a talking rat but sometimes I need to find a reason to use my archaeology degree.
Anyway back to the actual crux of this book which is twofold. We get a lot of background to Hex (his name Hex suddenly makes a lot of sense once you realise how he came to be) as well as picking up on the threads of what’s happening to Gina and Quill.
It’s good to see a bit of background on Hex who up until this point has been the most enigmatic of the MI666 bunch. It’s a sad and tragic backstory which will leave you with far more sympathy for Hex than I would have thought possible a few issues ago. It really brings into perspective why he is doing what he does.
I will warn those of you who may have a squick about terrible dark things being done to children you may wish to skip the early pages of this book.
Gina though is still being put through the wringer by Yastrik. Except a bit of mind/soul insight later Yastrik suddenly realises who and what Gina is. So she immediately decides to permanently murder her. It’s tantalising to get hints of the truth about Gina but they are still remaining hints so far. Though perhaps pretty strong ones.
Aashi and Coyle are also back in the fray which is good. I was wondering where they had got to. They have managed to track Gina down in Yastrik’s lair. We get to see their skills on show and really they do quite well to hold their own against quite bad odds. It’s nice to have the team back together.
Eddie also seems to switch sides, again. His smart remarks also mean I can’t really stay mad at him. Despite the constant switching side betrayal thing he has going on. I am worried for him though but I won’t spoil why.
Then there’s poor Quill who is not having a good time. He has a brief moment of clarity but then Yastrik takes him over and well Gina has to do what she has to do. No spoilers as there’s no conclusion by the end.
There’s a big revelation at the end which means yet more peril for our heroes. Which is the way we like it.
Aside from my earlier sash windows rant (which I stand by) the rest of the art is excellent. There’s plenty of gore (if you want to see a rat ripping out someone’s throat you will not see such a thing better realised) and Yastrik’s demon form is really rather intricate. There’s so much going on with Yastrik’s demon body from the eyes of the mouths to the spine and it’s all really detailed. A lot of care and attention has been put in, and it shows. You also can really see the care in any of the panels where the characters are suffering. You can see and feel the pain on their faces. In a nice contrast their determination is also present. In fact the emotion is always clearly shown in the characters whole selves which is great.
Plus the revelation when Yastrik looks inside Gina’s head is a really beautiful splash page with plenty of detail and symbolism. The double page where Gina catches up to Yastrik is also nicely put together with the central panel emphasising a lot of pain.
The colouring also aids things as there’s some great use of orange in the scenes with Yastrik that helps give everything that demon-y feel.
I will also give a shoutout to the lettering. There’s a variety of styles here to reflect different characters and their origins and it works very well, especially the narration aspect of the first pages.
So yes this is a good issue. We get insight into another main character and the plot gets forwarded along. I do want to see more of the group working together and I do want answers regarding Gina. I also sense a fair bit of pain to come for our heroes as this arc concludes next issue. Until then it’s definitely worth checking out the story so far.