Green with temptation

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

Here we are in the final issue of Book of Shadows. Will our heroes prevail? How will they defeat Fane? And is Shadowman a vampire now? You will get answers to all those questions. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I can confirm that Shadowman is not possessed by a vampire for long.

Last issue things were looking pretty dire for our heroes. Jack and Punk Mambo were possessed by vampires, leaving Persephone in shock and at the mercy of Fane’s dark forces. Meanwhile Gilad and Doctor Mirage were surrounded by tortured souls. The two plot threads get weaved back together in the climax as there is a final showdown between good and evil, or shadows and evil or perhaps both as dark and light face each other.

I’m fairly satisfied with how things have played out. This team up has been just four issues with a gap halfway through and I’m looking forward to the trade. I think this story will benefit from a coherent read through all complete as I am sure I’ve missed details in writing and art that might be best revealed in a one sitting reading. I’ve enjoyed each issue but it had felt like parts of a whole sometimes.

There are some good touches with the art. Vicente Cifuentes seems to be experimenting successfully with depicting the various aspects of the supernatural world. One panel with a close up of Jack’s mouth with sharp vampiric teeth is menacing and striking. We also get to see glimpses of the shadow Loa, a rare sight. In this case we do get a sense of how powerful that Loa is through the design and the way it’s depicted casting out a vampiric spirit.

There are some nice choices of layout. There’s panels that shift around, reflecting confusion. There’s some really good splash pages showing the chaos of battle but with panels to show detail. There’s closeups of characters and key moments distilled into small panels giving more impact. Really it’s nicely put together.

The colouring by Nick Filardi remains varied, creating a whole host of different atmospheres. The brightness of lost souls, the fires, creating a sense of heat and danger. The darker elements of the battle in the city contrasting with some blue, green sky backgrounds. The colouring does help imbue a sense of magic running through the art. The use of purple for the Shadow Loa works as even though Shadowman is all in black there’s no need for the Loa to be dark, it’s more interesting if it isn’t.

The lettering also on point. There’s several supernatural voices throughout but they are all easily identifiable. Giving lettering that supernatural feeling without it coming across as too trying isn’t easy but it’s accomplished well here. I especially liked the slightly wobbly lettering as Shadowman shows his desperation, you can hear it in his voice. Dave Sharpe again proving why he’s one of my favourite letterers.

This feels like a fitting conclusion for now for Cullen Bunn’s Shadowman. Having steered the character this far it feels like Bunn has a good grasp on Jack. I wouldn’t say this is a definitive portrayal but I do think it’s one of the better ones. I wouldn’t be averse to reading more of this version of the character. The supporting cast have also been well handled and Persephone is a great addition as her story continues this issue.

I hope we get to see more of all of these characters. It feels like there’s potential for more stories both separately and together for Gilad, Doctor Mirage, Punk Mambo, Shadowman and Persephone. I hope we have not see the last of them. This has reminded me how much I enjoy seeing them.

Book of Shadows has been a decent team up book. The conclusion worked for me. It also left me interested in seeing more. It’s a shame we’ve had to wait awhile for the conclusion but it ends satisfyingly. Now all four issues are put I’d say that reading all of them back to back would be of benefit. Either way it’s worth taking a trip on the supernatural side of Valiant.

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