Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Pedro Andreo
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Shadowman #6 has a lot going on. We see the return of several characters as the Deadside War heats up. Jack has tried the diplomatic route and it didn’t go well. The Deadside just isn’t interested in the whole living and the dead together in harmony no matter how hard Jack tries to sell it. That doesn’t mean he’s going to give up as he tries to persuade the Deadside minions to see the potential but, well, there’s no bargaining with the Deadside, which is intent on consuming the world no matter what logical arguments you put before it.
This issue finds Shadowman in that old horror classic, the creepy abandoned hospital. The art is suitably creepy and will remind anyone of those old buildings left to rot and ruin so frequented by ghost hunters and those fans of all things spooky. Except this particular old hospital has not been abandoned, and instead has become a place of sadistic murder as the Deadside equivalent of Dr. Frankenstein cuts and slices innocents into hosts for the blight spirits of the Deadside.
Indeed the grotesque beings so created do look very like Frankenstein’s monsters. Stitched together and looking deformed they aren’t exactly pleased to see Shadowman or listen to his pleas about the Deadside and the living world coming together. As a result Shadowman goes back to what to he does best, fighting the blight and taking out the Deadside creatures. Although this time he may have bitten off more than he can chew. He needs allies more than ever.
Luckily just such an ally appears. You might recall some time ago Punk Mambo had her own series where she also fought against evil and it didn’t exactly go well at points. Now Punk Mambo is singularly annoyed at the world, choosing to hang about graveyards trying for a peaceful life with the ghost of her old friend Marie doing the haunted version of Jiminy Cricket’s conscience act.
It was good to see Punk Mambo return. It felt like her title ended with several loose ends (like you know, ghost friend). Those aren’t exactly dealt with here but at least having the character back means we can get updated on where she’s at – hanging around graveyards and generally avoiding the world. But with an angry Marie in her ear and the request from Jack’s friend Alyssa she decides to help out.
Character-art wise her design is the same as it always was. She’s still sporting the pink mohawk and chains. Not to mention the chain smoking habit. She’s drawn very true to how the character has been previously portrayed but with a nice nod to the fact she’s not had an easy ride lately. Marie’s red ghostly glow is also nicely done and makes her stand out as the Deadside creatures are in greys and darker teals. She’s other worldly but not of the Deadside’s world.
As well as Marie in ghostly form we also have a couple of Shadowman villains returning as bright, slightly purple ghostly generals on the Deadside’s erm…side. I have to admit I was surprised at their appearance but then again they are foils to Shadowman and have plagued him and other Valiant heroes over the years. I won’t spoil the reveal of who they are. I do wonder though if those unfamiliar with past Valiant villains will have the same reaction. Or even pick up on the significance. Once the characters say their names there will be a moment of – OMG really? for the Valiant faithful but a new reader might just note those names for later not really taking the weight of several past runs onboard. It’s a bold move to reintroduce them but it does make logical sense.
What is also a bold move is to end the issue with the a development in the Deadside War we all saw coming. I mean it’s a war, there’s going to be some major upheavals happening, but still the stage is set for something really big. Shadowman is going to need all the help he can get. One Punk Mambo might not be enough.
This was a very packed issue and it took me a couple of rereads to really appreciate what was going on, but I really enjoyed a nice dive into the Valiant characters and mythos. It felt very much tied into previous runs and other Valiant titles, which rewards the fans who have been hoping to see more of Punk Mambo and her exploits. This is an issue that I think Valiant fans will definitely enjoy. The art is strong and very atmospheric and the writing backs up the storyline and characters really nicely.