Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd #1
Flashback, if you will, to 1993, when the old school Valiant was at the top of their game, and the stories just kept getting bigger and the gimmicks were borderline insane. One of the memorable marketing stunts invited Steven Tyler and Aerosmith to guest star in Shadowman’s monthly series. Now almost twenty years later, it is only natural for one of rap’s most popular duos to join Jack Boniface on an adventure in the Valiant universe.
Like many Valiant fans, I was only slightly familiar with Rae Sremmurd prior to this comic’s announcement. I actually contacted one of my friends who appreciates their music to give me a break down of their styles and learn a few of their songs. To take it a step further, we watched a few interviews to judge the accuracy of the rapper’s representations. Having done all that research, this comic missed the mark.
In our story, we find Rae Sremmurd was misled into signing a contract with a Loa (evil spirit) for fame. Of course, the contract has come due and the Shadowman is summoned by Dr. Mirage to free them. The premise is actually interesting, in fact, we’ve seen variations of it before. But for a comic to advertise their music, you would think the rappers would be smarter than depicted. In fact, the whole comic reads like an insult to their intelligence. Remember when Marvel comics had Hostess advertisements? Imagine that kind of dialogue and silliness for 20 pages. Even Rae Sremmurd talks to Shadowman as if they are children in a 1980’s PSA. If written with a less serious vibe, the comic would be a ton of fun. Instead, readers will cringe at poor choices of dialogue, a rushed story, and one-dimensional characters. Eliot Rahal has written solid comics in the past, but any advertisement comic is extraordinarily difficult for any comics writer.
The art is the most redeeming category and frankly is some of Valiant’s best work. In fact, Renato Guedes is the perfect choice for artist when Jack Boniface returns next year. His attention to detail is astounding, with nothing left out. Still, the gorgeous art really does not reflect the silliness of the writing. You would expect something more cartoonish rather than the realistic paintings. Dave Lanphear’s letters even give the eerie feeling the book is seeking.
Overall, I am very disappointed in this comic. Most hardcore Valiant fans will likely share that sentiment. Rae Sremmurd fans will enjoy seeing the band interacting with comic book heroes, but nothing really asks for them to continue reading. Honestly, if this is the worst thing Valiant puts out in their career, they still will have done well. Every month we are treated to consistently good stories and fresh concepts that leave you wanting more. I am confident that one subpar promotional comic will not ruin your Valiant experience. In fact, Shadowman fans may want this one just for the fantastic cover art and Doctor Mirage guest appearance in spite of everything else. But for now, we will have to wait until Jack’s triumphant 2018 return.
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