Shadowman: Andy Diggle on rebooting Valiant's voodoo-powered superhero
Shadowman is one of the Valiant universe’s most interesting superheroes. The man also known as Jack Boniface was created in 1992 by original Valiant masterminds Jim Shooter, Steve Englehart, and Mike Manley, and he has the rare distinction of being a voodoo-powered superhero. Hailing from New Orleans, Jack is tied into a dark shadow world of monsters and spirits, and he uses his abilities — which include enhanced strength, night vision, and other voodoo powers — to protect people from threats like Master Darque.
But Jack has been out of the Valiant picture lately. After an encounter with his archenemy turned Shadowman into a brainwashed villain called the Magpie, he’s been flitting in and out of the background of the Valiant universe, though he did find time to team up with real-life hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd in October. Now he’s set to return in a new series from writer Andy Diggle and artist Stephen Segovia.
The latest in Valiant’s run of revivals (following Matt Kindt’s epic take on X-O Manowar, Jeff Lemire’s Bloodshot: Salvation, and Christos Gage’s Ninja-K), the new Shadowman book will finally find Jack back in his own self again, though of course he’s a changed man.
“When Jack Boniface quit being Shadowman, he was corrupted by his archenemy and became this terrifying automaton known as the Magpie — like a supernatural version of the Terminator. Bad news,” Diggle tells EW. “Now he’s haunted by the memory of the terrible things he did as the Magpie, and he’s determined to atone for it by embracing his destiny as Shadowman. But he can’t do it alone. Fortunately, he has Alyssa Myles, the Abettor who first introduced him to the world of magic all those years ago. In the intervening years, she’s leveled up, becoming a powerful voodoo mambo in her own right. Jack and Alyssa used to be lovers, but when he turned his back on being Shadowman, he also turned his back on her. So, yeah. Awkward.”
As for how the new series will fit into Shadowman’s history, Diggle says, “It’s a story about stepping out of the shadows and embracing the light. Trying to move on from your own mistakes and be a better man. Of course, it’s not easy. As Shadowman, Jack will never fully be able to escape his own demons. It’s about learning to live with them. And as he comes to a better understanding of himself and his family’s legacy, he’ll discover whole new worlds, and new powers he never even imagined he had. So without wanting to sound too pretentious about it, it’s a journey of self-discovery and self-actualization. With punching.”
Diggle’s prior work has spanned sevearl genres, from the supernatural horror of Swamp Thing to the action stories of The Losers. He sees Shadowman as an opportunity to blend all those elements as he and Segovia build a story around a truly unique superhero.
“It’s such a compelling concept — an ordinary guy who finds himself bound to a powerful voodoo entity, dragging him into a world of unimaginable weirdness. There’s a million stories you can tell with that concept, and we’ve barely scratched the surface,” Diggle says. “A big part of the book’s appeal for me is the the world of voodoo, which is so rich in iconography and themes that cut right into the dark side of America, resonating through the centuries right up to the present day. I want to dig into that in a way that hasn’t really been explored in the previous Shadowman books.”
He adds, “Most people’s idea of voodoo has been badly skewed by some frankly racist Hollywood misrepresentations over the past century, and it’s been fascinating researching the actual history and lore behind the folk religion. Voodoo is transactional, give and take, born of necessity from people who were enslaved, oppressed, and forbidden to worship their own gods.”
Shadowman #1 will hit store shelves March 28. Check out an exclusive preview below, along with a bevy of variant covers from Renato Guedes, Raul Allen, and Travel Foreman.