Writer Justin Jordan on Bringing ‘Shadowman’ Back Into the Light [Interview]
Last week Valiant Comics announced the impending return of yet another of the characters from its sizable stable of heroes created in the early 1990s: New Orleans’ very own Shadowman. Originally a jazz saxophonist who gained the power to see demons in criminals after a near-death experience, other versions of the character have fought zombies and monsters from hell. It isn’t entirely clear what this new-new version of the character will be into just yet.
Writer Justin Jordan (Image’s The Strange Talent of Luther Strode and DC’s Team 7) and artist Patrick Zircher (Marvel’s Terror, Inc. and Mystery Men) will begin working their magic on the character starting in November. We caught up with Jordan for a quick Q & A about which of the multiple versions of Shadowman he drew from for the new book, the role of magic in the new Valiant Universe, and whether a certain Shadowman-loving band will make an appearance in the title.
ComicsAlliance: Based on the preview art, it looks like this is a considerably more grounded take on Shadowman than the original, flowing maned version or even the character from the video games. Is that how you would describe your approach?
Justin Jordan: Yes and no. I think my approach to character work is usually pretty grounded. I try to write them as real people with real problems and dreams beyond the extraordinary in their life. So I think this version of Shadowman is a bit more grounded in terms of–and god help me, this sounds pretentious–his emotional life. But he is fighting monsters and demons and assorted weirdness, and it’s hard to call that grounded.
CA: What did you incorporate from the comics of 20 years ago, and what did you know you had to change?
JJ: I had the advantage of having had some very good writers work on the character before I did, which gave me the ability, when recreating the character with Patrick for the new Valiant, to pick the stuff I thought was strongest from all those versions. But fundamentally, the way comics stories are told has changed a lot since 1992, and the way we’re telling the story reflects that.
But I think, or at least hope, that anyone who liked the character in the past will see the things that made him interesting in this version.
CA: Shadowman is arguably the Valiant character who has had the most staying power over the years. A version of the character was in a video game as recently as 2002. How did the notion that less time has passed since the last time audiences have seen the character, at least compared to other Valiant characters, affect your take?
JJ: Only in that I’m aware there’s a giant fan base out there, and that I need to do right by them. There’s a lot of excitement out there to see the character come back, and that includes me, so there’s some pressure from that.
CA: How does magic work in the new Valiant Universe? What are the ground rules?
JJ: Basically, everything that lives produces a certain kind of energy. This is the byproduct of sentient life. This energy is what actually makes magic work and the part that gets called magic is the ways that humans use this energy. What this means is that things like voodoo, hermetic magic, primal magic and all that work, even if they should be mutually exclusive. It’s just different “languages” that do the same thing.
CA: In the original comic, Jack Boniface fought demons in the form of thieves and murderers. From what I’ve seen of the new Shadowman, it looks like the forces he’s fighting are more blatantly supernatural. Am I reading that right?
JJ: Yep. Jack will probably fight normal killers and such, but his role in the Valiant Universe is to fight supernatural threats. This version of Jack draws from the Michael LeRoi version of the character as far as that goes. But we’re working pretty hard to give you supernatural stuff that different from what you’ll see in most comics.
CA: When will we see the inevitable Aerosmith guest appearance? Or will it be the 2012 equivalent of 1993 Aerosmith? Come to think of it, who would be the 2012 equivalent of 1993 Aerosmith?
JJ: Linkin Park, clearly. And they will appear in every issue. Sometimes twice.
Check out some preview art from the first issue of the new Shadowman series below!