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Shadowhawk #9 & #10

Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2006
By: Michael Deeley

each

Writers: Scott Wherle, (#9) & Jim Valentino
Artist: Jim Valentino (p)
Inkers: Chris McFann(#9) and G.W. Fisher (#10)

Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50 each


Teenager Eddie Collins is the latest in a long line of heroes called Shadowhawk. The helmet’s mystical powers have been unlocked allowing Eddie to create any costume or weapon he can imagine. But Eddie’s life takes a wrong turn quickly. He dumps his girlfriend when she insults his best friend, then gets cut from the basketball team. Worst of all, he watches said best friend killed by a supervillain. Eddie could have saved his live if he killed the villain.

Now the Shadowhawk helmet has been stolen by Luke Hatfield, Jr. Long-time Shadowhawk fans will remember him as “Hawk’s Shadow,” the racist killer from the original mini-series, and kid sidekick to the Silver Age Shadowhawk. Hatfield goes straight to work establishing a name for himself as the new, murderous Shadowhawk. Can his crippled father stop him? And will Eddie stop blaming himself for his friend’s death and regain the helmet?

I was a fan of the original Shadowhawk back in 1992. Looking back, and re-reading those issues, I realize it was the mystery of Shadowhawk’s identity that drew me in. The identity of Shadowhawk wasn’t revealed until the second mini-series, over a year after his first appearance. He was a black man with AIDS, which opened up the character to social commentary rare in superhero comics. After the character’s death, Kurt Busiek and Alan Moore created the mystical legacy of the Shadowhawk. There have been Shadwohawks throughout history, each bringing his own unique style, powers, and abilities to the masked identity. Now all that knowledge is available to Eddie Collins.

Too bad he hasn’t done crap with it.

Honestly, this reads like just another teen hero book. Granted, one with darker themes and much more violence, but no different from old Spider-Man comics, Robin, Superboy, or even Darkhawk. It’s been done to death. And unlike Invincible or the previously mentioned series, Valentino doesn’t bring anything new to the genre. And frankly, his art does not reflect his 15+ years of experience. It looks flat, stiff, and amateurish. Panels often lack details giving us characters standing in front of solid blocks of color. The excellent coloring by Chris McFann highlights these flaws. I’m sad to say that Valentino’s art has always looked like this. Compare this to the original Shadowhawk mini-series from 1992, and it looks exactly the same. Only the inking has thinned out.

Before you think I’m down on Valentino, I will say he’s proven himself a great editor and publisher. He’s successfully managed to keep Image comics afloat through hardships that have sunk other publishers. The departure of two founding members, along with all their popular characters & series, the implosion of the comics industry, and frequent scheduling issues could have ruined the company at any time. But Jim not only kept Image together, he reinvented the brand. Image became a mainstream publisher of alternative and creator-owned series. Balancing art and commerce is no easy task, but Valentino did it well. So, great editor and publisher; mediocre writer and artist.

There’s really no good reason to buy these comics. This story arc should change Eddie as a person, but I just can’t care enough about him to find out how. $3.50 is a little pricey for a comic, and you just barely get your money’s worth. If you want to see teen angst done right, look for Invincible, Runaways, or Ultimate Spider-Man.



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