The fifth volume of Shadowman is essentially a story of father and son. This particular relationship is quite complicated though as it involves magic and of a legacy passed down from one generation to the next. Jack Boniface never wanted the Shadow loa, but he got it and it has brought him nothing but grief. With that grief has come not only loss, but also the constant whispering of the loa in his ear trying to gain control of him, and if it should, then Jack himself would also be lost. So it is that Jack decides to seek out his father, Josiah, believed dead these many years but recently discovered to be alive after voluntarily giving up the loa, the only man to ever do so. And so the story will take Jack on a trip to places he may not want to tread, but does so anyways so that he might find some sort of peace and closure.
Unlike the previous volume of Shadowman, Peter Milligan tells this tale in a more straightforward manner, thus making it easier to follow and understand whereas the fourth volume was a little confusing. With this story, Milligan gives us a little more horror as he delves deeper into voodoo lore and magic, taking our hero into different planes of existence so that he might find his father. Jack, who found a semblance of relief after the previous issues is now tortured and tormented once again when he learns of his father’s past and hears that Josiah could still be alive. Milligan tugs at those emotional strings, never content to let our hero rest and as such, almost seems to take glee in giving Jack the hardest of times.
What was most interesting about this particular volume was seeing some more of the history involving the Shadowman and his loa. Not much was known of Josiah before this story and Milligan reveals to us that not only was he able to resist the loa inside of him, he was almost surely the most powerful Shadowman because of it. The book goes on to explore Josiah’s reasons for leaving his family, of the danger he constantly placed them in and how if he stayed it would more than likely have been fatal for them. While the story might not have gone as deep into the history of the character as we would have liked, it did go far enough to answer some questions that have been raised throughout the series.
When the book eventually ends, it does not necessarily leave us on a cliff-hanger as it does a promise of more to come. It also gives us Master Darque, newly resurrected thanks to Jack and his one-sided vision. If there was one thing missing from the title, it was the Shadowman’s opposite half, albeit the one that is pure evil. While the book has been somewhat interesting the last couple of arcs, it is with Master Darque in the picture that it has been at its best. There were of course many good moments in the series other than those involving Jack and Josiah, as the supporting cast is quite interesting as well, but the book as it is, is about Shadowman and the Milligan places that focus almost squarely on him. So while Milligan delivers a stronger story than what he has done previously in the title and while it was entertaining; it looks like it will be more so going forward.
3.5 out of 5