Ever since Jack Boniface had been gifted with the Shadowman loa, he has been desperate to rid himself of it. In Jack’s case the loa has been bonded to his family line and has been passed down from parent to offspring since 1865. Until now no one in the family has been able to control their loa. Walking through the first issue of ‘Shadowman’ doesn’t look promising for the future. What the reader does find out in this first issue is more about Jack’s link to his loa and how he feels about it.
Understandably, Jack believes as if he is only a vessel which in turn traps both him and the destructive force he contains. He runs away from his birthright, becomes manipulated, enslaved and renamed Magpie. During this time his loa is used by another to do unspeakable things. In running away he’s left New Orleans vulnerable, his girlfriend ticked off and the gods of the African Diaspora angry for being discarded. Still the bond between Jack and Alyssa is strong. In his absence, she’s had to become a Mambo and has spent the past few years learning what she can. On one of her missions Alyssa instinctively calls upon Jack and pulls him out from the Deadside.
Jack has divorced himself from his ancestors. It isn’t entirely his fault. He was ill-prepared to accept his mantle. Before he knew about his lineage, his only family who could inform him of what was to come died. Furthermore, the shadowman loa apparently is a rogue spirit who is not accepted by the others in his pantheon, to the point that it doesn’t remember its name or why it has been cast out. Issue one of ‘Shadowman’ showcases the effects of colonialism without the dogmatism.
Writer Andy Diggle has shown that Black women still have to be the strong one. In the face of adversity Alyssa only has herself to rely on. The guide she has lures her into a trap, then has to save a weakened Jack and beat off an enemy. Her role as protector is reinforced because and not despite of Jack. On the one hand she is self-empowered. On the other Diggle shows that no one in this world has enough knowledge to survive. What’s more, artist Stephen Segovia and his team have the feel of New Orleans right. The characters look like real people you would pass on the street. Alyssa’s spells and even Baron Samedi look believable in a tapestry that joins the fantastic with the mundane. It shows that the everyday lives of these people is at the very least filled with a set of rules and traditions they’re still trying to navigate.
If Jack believes that all he is a container for an unruly, supernatural entity, he’s not going to find the answers as to why his family felt the need to make a deal with what seems to be a parasite. More importantly, both Jack and Alyssa have to find figure out what a supernatural war is and their part in it. Overall, this first issue will give you hope that a well written comic book, with a Black man as the lead will not be cancelled anytime soon.