I was really excited when I heard there was going to be a Shadowman One-shot for Valiant's 4001 AD event. I'd dabbled in the Shadowman universe before, with takes on the character from Justin Jordan, Peter Milligan, and Jim Shooter, so I was familiar with the concept. What I was not prepared for, however, was how emotional this issue was.
One of the things that made Shadowman so great was his powers' origin: it came from a voodoo spirit called a Loa. This one-shot imagines a future wrecked by war, with the great city of Gethsemane holding a truce with the Deadside (the dimension where demons live). In order to run their city, the humans give sacrifices to the demons to run their powerful engines. Of course, after a few hundred years of human sacrifices, someone's bound to want to fight back. Enter this blowhard.
Once on the Deadside of things, the three sacrifices (Kaia, Kym, and Jardon) begin to see that things are different than they expected, and herein lies the book's strength: Seeing how the demons act towards these humans is fascinating, as they show genuine reverence for what the sacrifices are doing. This is a testament to Robert Gill's incredible artwork - he can convey emotion through masks or horns or tusks. His work reminds me of a cleaned-up and more varied version of Andy Kubert, with the scene where Jardon makes a choice being especially powerful.
But there's so much more to this book than just an examination on ethnic misunderstanding and xenocentric fear - writers Jody Houser (Faith) and Rafer Roberts (Adventures of A+A) capture the youthful dialogue of Kaia and her friends deftly. Their speech feels organic, without forcing weird "futuristic" vernacular into their conversation. Also? A gift for comedic timing.
This was a great addition to what appears to be another successful Valiant crossover event - it added a legacy element to a long-time Valiant character, and gave pathos to a storyline that could've easily been too preachy. This is definitely worth a pick up.