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

Since the start of this new arc Shadow Service has got dark. Really dark. It continues the darkness here. The ending is shocking and well I honestly can’t see how our heroes can beat this threat. Everything feels heightened, the stakes are so much bigger. If you thought there was tension and drama before this issue cranks things up to eleven by the end.

This also is the issue where the two different threads, the murder of supernatural operatives and Gina’s birth followed by the murder of her birth mother, come together. You kind of already knew where this was leading and that there would be a connection but it’s solidly done. It also means we get to see more of Quill which is nice as he has been awol for a couple of issues.

As those of you who are keeping up will know Hex has been captured and is being tortured. Hex as a character has always been unsettling. His origin as a young boy essentially sacrificed for the dark arts, forever now trapped in a child’s body. How do you top that unsettling foundation? Introduce brutal torture into the mix. As a reader I’ve always liked Hex, though Gina has had doubts so it is disturbing to see what happens to a character you care about.

This issue also has the emotional pull of Gina’s origin which again is dark. Her birth mother forced to have baby after baby, each killed at birth before she herself is brutally murdered after Gina’s birth. In this issue the woman behind it, the chief of the union as it were, is back and the key villain. We know that Gina has some knowledge now about where she comes from, of course both Gina and the readership still don’t quite know what the Seventh Scion really means, probably nothing good.

As always the art is great. I especially liked the scene with Hui fighting werewolves. There’s more to it than that dark magic wise but essentially that’s what’s going on. Hui in her fox form is quick and brutal and that is very much reflected in tight panels that really showcase that. You can almost feel the fur flying as she gets stuck into the fighting action.

I also thought the torture of Hex well done. As he collapses in his bond you can feel the exhaustion in his lines. As always Quill’s ghostly form is well done as he’s thrown into the chaotic rescue. The magic always has that pretty otherworldly tinge which adds to the whole supernatural vibe.

The ending is shocking and I’m still reeling. There are still questions, mostly about what is going to happen next. It’s a real rollercoaster ride because there are moments of real triumph which makes the ending so much more shocking. Shadow Service remains a wonderfully twisty title which keeps you on your toes. I am still genuinely in shock at the ending. I need to know what happens next. That’s very much the highest praise I can give. I need more.

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