Don’t do drugs kids

Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

When last we left Jack things had not been going great. As usual Baron Samedi is here to give us a suitably creepy recap. I am actually liking the way one of the characters of the book let’s know what’s happened previously. It’s a nice refresher as I start a new issue and Samedi is very much the sort of character to break the fourth wall purely to creep you out.

Anyway the revelation at the end of the last issue was the Deadside has designs on earth. The kind that might well, you know, lead to the end of all life on earth which is not perhaps the outcome we’d be hoping for.

I am going to say the first part of this issue has some horror horror in it. I mean supernatural drugs and people vomiting blood and a baby and a dog having horrible things happen to them. I don’t have a massively strong stomach for horror and I will be honest the second issue nearly got bit much for me. The beginning of this third issue really did. It took me a combination of skipping over parts and concentrating on the narration (which was about a really good metaphor about a safe house) to get past the first few pages. It’s a good and interesting metaphor though about safety and the nature of fear.

But yes I will say trigger warning to those like me who are squeamish. I would say it’s the most horrific issue yet. Makes sense. Shadowman is in the horror wheelhouse of the Valiant universe but yeah. Horror. Great metaphor though.

The basic plot is Jack is London where, in a house of drugs and death, lurks another creature that’s breached the veil and is causing death and destruction in its wake. Jack has tracked it to its nest to try and get rid of it as that is the mission after all. Baron Samedi of course us here with the dark humour and stays safely outside. The dark humour his and Jacks interactions provide does help lighten what is a dark book full of horror.

We do finally get some strong answers though. Throughout Jack has kept seeing a mysterious woman who seems to be linked to all these events that have been happening. Finally he discovers her identity. I didn’t see it coming but it makes prefect sense. Thought it does throw some old mythology and previous runs of various titles question. We also see how Jack now has a plan to deal with the troubles, though it sound a bit radical. It feels like we’ve learnt a lot this issue and I am glad as it feels there’s a very interesting path to tread for Jack next time.

I am not sure how friendly this sort of mythology is to someone new to Valiant. I am very familiar with the Deadside and the concept of the Deadside but I would be interested to know what a newbie thinks.

The art is really good this issue, I would say the splash pages of Jack in a drug induced hallucination seeing all kinds of revelations is one of the best bits of art in this series so far. I love the details, the the way the colours interplay with each other and how Jack’s words echo across the vast space that’s being depicted. It’s a really good couple of splash pages. Not to say the art in the rest of the book isn’t good. It’s solid (one of the reasons why the horror is so visceral) but honestly those two splash pages are worth the price of admission alone.

This feels like a book that’s really found its feet now. It feels confident as the plot advances. I think in many ways this is the most interesting issue so far, purely on strength of the metaphor at the start and the revelation within. I am very interested to see what comes next and what is in store for Jack.

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