Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Vicente Cifuentes
Colourist: Nick Filardi
Letterer: Dave Sharpe

Cast your minds back if you will to summer last year. It was the height of August and Valiant’s supernatural heroes had banded together to take on Exarch Fane who had The Book of Shadows and was wreaking havoc, death and destruction across the earth. They finally had a plan as The Eternal Warrior, Gilda and Doctor Mirage would head beyond the veil to check out Fane at the source. Meanwhile Shadow Man, Punk Mambo and Persephone would attempt to hold back the board killing and feasting on souls.

Then delays happened.

Now in January some five months later we finally get a continuation of the story. We do get a slight summary of the previous events in a paragraph on the first page, and introduction if you will. However it would have been nice to have had a bit more given that it’s been nearly half a year since we last encountered these characters. I am relieved that we are finally getting more of The Book of Shadows and I am hopeful we won’t be waiting as long for the resolution.

There are two strands to this issue. On the one hand we have Gilad and Doctor Mirage bonding over dead family as the latter tries to persuade the former to take a more subtle approach to their situation. On the other we have Shadowman, Punk Mambo and Persephone fighting hoards as Persephone wrestles with her past and monstrous tendencies and Punk Mambo really doesn’t help. Jack is there but the majority of the character work surrounds Persephone as she tries to come to terms with her own sins.

Indeed this feels very much like a continuation of Shadowman and Persephone’s story in parts as we see her battling with what she wants to be and what she is. The art portrays her reluctance and her reactions to some of the violence surrounding her. As the issue continues we see her struggling more and more.

There’s also character work with Gilad and Doctor Mirage. There are hints as to their character backstory such as Gilad ever so casually mentioning when he dies he chooses to fight his way back rather than stay with his family. Doctor Mirage also casually mentions her AWOL husband Hwen (we get no further updates there). We establish Gilad as the one who will always fight his way and Doctor Mirage as the more thoughtful one and that sets some stuff up later for the finale.

The art remains solid. Fane’s library is well realised with the green glow subtly suggesting it’s other worldly setting. There’s plenty of horror too with demonic bishop looking beings using blood to scrap out a copy of the book of shadows. There’s certainly visual impact.

There’s also impact with the horrors taking place back on earth. There are vampiric creatures biting people and turning them into well vampire zombies. There’s some severed heads, hell hounds, fire chaos. The splash page of our heroes fighting off this evil is probably one of the most interesting of the issue. Colouring and inking both work well together.

Although it’s been a long time since we had any Book of Shadows it does become familiar pretty quickly. If you enjoyed the first two issues but not the wait you will find yourself pulled back in easily. There’s good stuff here nice bits of character work in between evocative visuals. It works and I really liked the focus on Persephone in parts as well given she’s a new character to the Valiant universe with a tortured past.

The issue ends with two cliff hangers pretty much and things looking dire. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long until the resolution.

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