(W) Joe Henderson (A) Lee Garbett
The new Image Comics title from the creative team behind Skyward!
A title that gives new meaning to the idea of ‘being afraid of your own shadow…’
Shadecraft arrives with a lot of fanfare and expectation, solely due to the fact its live action rights were picked up by Netflix before Issue 1 had even arrived! I unfortunately saw the bad side of comic fandom as I had ordered big on the title, hoping to help people get it at cover price once word inevitably spread. I put them on the website, and because there is no limit on our website for how many copies of something you can buy, one person bought up our entire stock of it (aside from one variant) at cover price, no doubt hoping to make money down the line.
Maybe I should put a cap on how many copies someone can buy? Oh well, at least I have plenty of the second print for #1 ordered for those interested!
So, what’s it about? In Shadecraft, our main character is Zadie Lu, a teenager in High School. For years, she has always been jealous of her older brother’s popularity and felt overshadowed, no matter what her achievements, and to top it all off, she has a fear of shadows, an irrational one right? Well…
I enjoyed the hell out of these guys previous Zero Gravity effort, Skyward (and may have even indulged in an oversized hardcover collection…) so knew we would be in safe hands here.
The characters are instantly engaging, and Zadie is an interesting character from the off. Just witness her embarrassment when she thinks her best friend is coming on to her and she reciprocates. Except he wasn’t, so she runs off embarrassed into the night. Probably not the best idea for someone with issues with the dark. But we all felt that embarrassment as teenagers and can understand.
We’re only a couple of pages in but this is one stunning looking book. I find it slightly reductive to compare art styles sometimes as every artist in the world of comics brings their own style. But it was hard not to think of the clean lines and great colouring from Saga’s Fiona Staples when reading this title. I can offer Lee Garbett on art and Antonio Fabela on colours no higher compliment than that. The world feels rich and lived in, but also has that small town horror movie vibe and constant atmosphere.
As she walks home alone after her awkward encounter, she almost feels as if her shadow is watching her. As the reader, we can see something threatening behind her, but is it all just in her head? Is she indeed the ‘Crazy Zadie’ she anoints herself as?
Well, wonder no longer as that slow burn becomes an over-the-top attack as her shadows erupt into a massive figure that surrounds her until her mother turns on the porch light. We also get the information at this point that something happened to her golden boy brother, but we’re not sure just what.
What’s great here is that she doesn’t attempt to keep it to herself like most characters in these types of stories. Even as she tells her friend the story of what happened on the porch, she doesn’t care if it sounds crazy, she has the holes in her jacket from when the shadow attacked her as proof. She even says to her friend that she’s talking about it because people, not just her, could be in danger. Again, she comes across really well as a sympathetic character who we can root for.
She even tries to move past the awkwardness of the misunderstood kiss from the night before by hugging Josh tightly in the lunch hall, proclaiming she is glad he’s not dead! Despite the fantastical nature of her attack, of course her other friend is more interested in the kiss. Teenagers huh?
We then find out that Mr Popular of the family, Zadie’s brother Ricky, is in a coma, and she comes to his bedside to talk to him. We don’t know what has caused the coma just yet. This is what was so great about this first issue, it is establishing lots of characters, and moving the story forward, but also laying breadcrumbs to be picked up upon later. She runs out of his room after her mother challenges her, and screams ‘That Ricky’s never coming back’.
Which leads to the end of the issue and confrontations in the spooky woods, shadow monsters, beautiful single and double splash pages, Zadie losing her own shadow at one point and even an emotional beat thrown in for good measure. I won’t reveal any more as this deserves to be discovered on its own terms.
One of the best Issue 1’s this year for me, and I can’t recommend enough that you don’t sleep on it. This is a title very different from most, if not all books on the shelf right now, and it’s all the better for it. Keep an eye out for those 2nd prints folks…