Andy Diggle’s Shadowman: Exclusive Interview & Issue #1 Preview

ShadowMan P1 Cover03

Andy Diggle and Stephen Segovia combine their talents for Valiant’s Shadowman #1, the first issue of a new comic series to launch in March. We spoke to Andy Diggle about bringing back Shadowman in an interview accompanied by an exclusive sequence from issue #1.  

Diggle, who has worked on properties ranging from James Bond to Daredevil and beyond, says working on a relatively new character like Shadowman is a refreshing change. Not only is protagonist Jack Boniface unencumbered by decades of labyrinthine canon, Diggle is able to forge Shadowman’s path two years in advance.

“The characters are still fresh with room to grow and change, which means we can give Jack Boniface a meaningful character arc,” Diggle said. “Being able to plan ahead means we can build on a solid foundation without worrying about having to suddenly ‘pivot’ to the fleeting whims of a publisher. It just makes for better storytelling.”

Because Shadowman is the supernatural anchor of the Valiant universe, writing Shadowman isn’t only about Shadowman. It also means the story must make room for characters and stories beyond the purview of Shadowman #1. For Diggle, that means establishing the Valiant rules of magic.  

“As Shadowman begins to explore the supernatural world, the readers will learn as he does,” said Diggle. “Figuring out how it all works, defining the rules – though without necessarily spelling everything out…  I've been having fun pulling on loose threads and seeing what unravels.”  

But to handle Valiant’s tentpole character and return him to form is a big responsibility. This is Diggle’s first work at Valiant, and Shadowman is a fan favorite. “It's always daunting launching a new book, especially one that already has an established fanbase with their own set of expectations. I think the key is to understand the core of the character and his appeal, and be true to that,” Diggle said. “Listen to the fans without pandering to them.”

Diggle also said his Shadowman run blends his two favorite genres: “supernatural horror with a conscience (Hellblazer, Swamp Thing) and gritty action (James Bond, The Losers, Thief of Thieves, Green Arrow: Year One).”

What’s more, Diggle is excited to build and shape Shadowman’s villains over the course of his run. “I'm playing Samedi as a mercurial trickster, quite distinct from the narcissistic megalomaniac Darque,” says Diggle. “As for Sandria and Nicodemo Darque, they're the aces I'm keeping up my sleeve for now. Everything about Shadowman is tied back to these two characters, yet they've been off the map for years. It's a goldmine of untapped story potential.”

Shadowman has been absent from the scene since 2014, when he was trapped in the Deadside (the realm of the dead) by Baron Samedi and forced into the identity of “Magpie.” According to Diggle, “Throwing Shadowman back into the world after a long absence is the perfect jumping-on point. He went off the rails, and [ex-love interest] Alyssa wants to know where the hell he's been for the past five years, so our first issue works both as an introduction for new readers and a handy recap for the fans.”

For those who may not know, the Shadowman series is drenched in voodoo, a real and often misrepresented religion. “Researching the history and practice of voodoo has been a fascinating and rewarding aspect of the job. Milo Rigaud's Secrets of Voodoo hasn't left my desk,” said Diggle. “Now, Shadowman is set in the Valiant Universe of gods and monsters, aliens and superheroes, so I'm not pretending to write a real-world treatise on folk religion here. It's a supernatural action comic. But at the same time, I do want to be respectful to the tradition and to use actual voodoo as the wellspring and inspiration for the story.”

In Shadowman, voodoo girds this paranormal universe. The voodoo spirits, or loa, serve as intermediaries between this world and the Creator. During rituals, a loa is called down to “ride” the houngan (priest) or mambo (priestess) briefly. But in Jack’s case, he’s permanently bound to a dangerous “shadow loa” that was exiled from the spirit world.

“The loa aren't gods, angels or demons. Part of Shadowman's journey will be discovering what the loa - including his own - really are,” Diggle said. “Why was the shadow loa exiled from the spirit world? What is Baron Samedi's relationship with the other loa? And why do they hate Jack?”

In fact, Jack is not the first Shadowman. He’s part of a bloodline legacy that goes all the way back to 1865, when his ancestor Marius Boniface was bound to the shadow loa and became the “first” Shadowman. “Part of Jack's journey of self-discovery will involve exploring this legacy across the past 150 years, uncovering hidden truths about his ancestors' relationship with the loa, and learning the implications for his own untapped potential. You'll finally get to see the ‘noir’ Shadowman of the 1940s in action, and I get to indulge my love of westerns with the post-Civil War Shadowman issue,” said Diggle.

Though Jack’s legacy is painful and turbulent, he will find new footing in Diggle’s run. While Diggle is chary of recreating the ‘angry black man’ stereotype, Jack has every reason to be angry. “Now that Jack is older, wiser, and back in control of himself, he's ready to make amends for the misdeeds of his past, like a traumatized veteran finding positive ways to move forward,” said Diggle. “He never asked for this burden that has turned his life into a nightmare. None of the Shadowmen did. So it's about Jack learning to focus that righteous anger into a force for good, instead of lashing out in blind, self-destructive rage.”

Shadowman’s first three-issue arc, “Fear of the Dark,” begins with Jack’s return to New Orleans. He reconnects with his former love interest, Alyssa, and reasserts control over the shadow loa bound to his bloodline. Shadowman #1 is on sale March 28 for $3.99. Here's the sneak preview of the first 10 pages you've been waiting for:

SHADOWMAN #1 – Variant Cover by Travel Foreman
SHADOWMAN #1 – Variant Cover by Travel Foreman Photo: (c) Valiant
SHADOWMAN #1 – Cover B by Renato Guedes
SHADOWMAN #1 – Cover B by Renato Guedes Photo: (c) Valiant
SHADOWMAN #1 – Cover A by Tonci Zonjic
SHADOWMAN #1 – Cover A by Tonci Zonjic Photo: (c) Valiant
shadowman 2018 issue 1 page 1
Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 1. Photo: (c) Valiant
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Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 2. Photo: (c) Valiant
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Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 3. Photo: (c) Valiant
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Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 4. Photo: (c) Valiant
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Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 5. Photo: (c) Valiant
shadowman 2018 issue 1 page 6
Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 6. Photo: (c) Valiant
shadowman 2018 issue 1 page 7
Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 7. Photo: (c) Valiant
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Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 8. Photo: (c) Valiant
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Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 9. Photo: (c) Valiant
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Shadowman 2018 Issue #1 Preview: Page 10. Photo: (c) Valiant

 

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