Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colour Artist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Here we are at the end of Shadecraft‘s first arc. What an arc it’s been. This book has really built up the family aspect throughout and I am pleased to say that, yes, the end of the first arc is full of everything I’ve come to enjoy about this book – humour, family moments and awesome shadows.
When last we left the Lu family Zadie and her mother were going to break into a top secret government facility to rescue Ricky, who was being manipulated by not-actually-a-school-counsellor Angela who, it turned out, has a past with Zadie and Ricky’s mother.
We open with an excellent mother and daughter team up. It’s really nice to have seen this relationship develop as the two of them have found common ground. Even here amongst the danger there are still lovely little moments that enable Zadie and her mother to connect.
There’s also some really great work with the shadows. The actual sheer raw power of the shadows is really well conveyed as we see how menacing and dangerous they can really be. What I love though is that also contrasted with some very small shadows that turn out to be just as powerful. The confident way Zadie and her mother work their ‘shadowcraft’ is one of the highlights of the art in particular.
There’s such great emotion in this. The family relationships are front and centre. Zadie, once angry and lashing out regarding her brother, now fights to save him. Her mother, who demonstrates how important her family is to her, especially as she confronts the past that threatens it. Then there’s Ricky who needs his family but may not trust them.
I will also give a special shout out to Zadie and Ricky’s Dad who is just brilliant in his own way. He might not be able to work shadows but he can more than hold his own in the family, both with witty quips and the way he helps with the rescue. The focus might be on Zadie, Ricky and their Mum but let’s not forget the other family member who has been such a supportive character throughout.
There are so many great moments in this the book. There’s some genuinely strong emotional tension as Zadie confronts Ricky. Their scene together is a great payoff to the relationship that’s been built up over the course of this arc. It’s just a really great payoff to the simple metaphorical idea of siblings being in each other’s shadow and it lands so perfectly as the writing and art really come together and reflect the emotional core.
Not to mention the tension with Zadie and Ricky’s mother, Melinda. The scene where she confronts Angela is a beautiful contrast, not just in light and shadow but also in theme to the scene with Zadie and Ricky as the two interactions play out simultaneously. Here we see Angela’s idea of family contrasted with the real family we’ve been following. Family is what you make it and it’s never been clearer that the sort of family Melinda chose to make with her husband and children is such a wonderful one, and worth fighting for on all levels. It all slots so nicely into the main themes.
I don’t want to spoil the ending but, well, there’s a definite end to the arc and there is some positivity. I will say no more about the details. I will say that those who have followed this all the way through will be satisfied.
We don’t yet know when there will be more Shadecraft. I have to say I am entirely satisfied with what we’ve had in this first arc. If there’s never any more I will be very glad we’ve had this. I am not disappointed. Of course should there be more I will definitely be along for the ride. This is a really good book and well worth a read now all of the first arc is out.
5 shadows out of 5