Publisher: Vault
Writer – Cavan Scott
Artist – Corin Howell
Colourist – Triona Farrell
Letterer – Andworld desig

SHADOW SERVICE IS BACK! I am delighted for the return of this horror, fantasy, magic, secret agent mythology book. I very much enjoyed the previous issues. The ending of the last arc left me both sad and wanting more in the best of ways. So here we are with another arc, with more sadness, more intrigue, more humour and more excellent art. The nine month wait has been worth it.

When we last left the world of MI666 Gina was fully into the world of magical spy espionage. She and the rest of the gang had saved the day. Poor Eddie the rat died somewhat heroically. Gideon Quill was also dead but well that’s not stopping him. This new arc is something of a jumping on point. I mean you should read all of Shadow Service but if you want to try it and see if it’s for you then this is a decent enough place to start. If you don’t like this issue you aren’t going to like anything that’s come before. If you don’t like it I would question your taste but free choice and all that.

Anyway Gina is now part of MI666 who at the start of the issue are doing those typical spy things, clandestine meetings in the park and a stakeout. Gina’s role is complicated by the fact Gideon is a ghost that only she can see and he decides during this “keep yourself inconspicuous” mission to fill her in on the search for her Mum (it’s not going as she might have hoped, hello plot thread). Their exchanges are pretty funny and I will always adore a Randall and Hopkirk reference (I got a big kick out of that I have to say, automatic 5 stars for that alone).

The humour is needed because as always with Shadow Service the shadows are never far away. We actually open the issue in Prague where the art takes us down a very atmospheric street as we follow one man to a wine shop (after he shoots a guy in an alley) where he summons a demon (as you do). I loved the demon designs previously and this one is just as good. The almost spider-like arrangement of limbs as it rises up from blue flamed candles, the blue glow surrounding it and the combination of horns and gaping mouth. It’s very effective and you never know if this is a demon for good or ill.

There is of course also some very effective gore in the art as well. The horror element is very well represented with dead bodies looking suitably mushy and disgusting. For me good art is really important if you are depicting demons and awful death and that is the case here. The line art and the colouring is all excellent. Quill’s ghostly purple form is also very effective.

Away from the horror though the art still works well. The pigeons in the park, the trees, the little details like that nicely establish the more mundane aspect of the world. I also really liked Hex being all boss in charge in his office. Surrounded by screens his depiction does scream being in charge. As always his facial expressions say much. Plus I rather liked the small white yappy dog. Then there’s the mysterious cat with two tails which looks to be a plot thread. I am intrigued by its presence through this issue.

I have deliberately avoided saying too much about the plot because there are some real gut punches towards the end of this issue that I think deserve to be unspoiled. I will say that no-one is safe and leave it at that. There are some really interesting plot threads though and the introduction of some well known mythical beings seems to be setting up another epic tale.

This issue had everything I love about Shadow Service, emotion, plot twists, demons, humour and some drama. Honestly this is an excellent return for Shadow Service after its break. I very much enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing how that cliff hanger at the end turns out. Plus it had a Randall and Hopkirk reference so that alone makes it A+ for me.

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