Shadecraft # 1
Writer: Joe Henderson
Art & Cover: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Simon Bowland
I’ll be honest, I never have grasped using the term “shade” as an insult. At it’s most simple level, in the shade is typically the place you want to be. That doesn’t mention the scriptural references to a deity “shading” their followers from harm. I guess the only reason it’s harmful is when it’s “thrown” at someone it usually doesn’t do what a shadow is supposed to do. Rather than hiding and concealing something the “shade” illuminates and reveals it. For Zadie, the lead character of Image Comics new comic Shadecraft, the question is whether she is ready to step out of the shadow.
Joe Henderson introduces the reader to the likeably awkward Zadie. In the first pages she manages to read the signals wrong and declare her love for best friend Josh via kiss….yeah pretty awkward. Later on we learn that this isn’t the only love in Zadie’s life that has and continues to make her life awkward. Zadie’s brother Ricky was the more popular of the two. This of course leads to her living in his shadow. Fast forward to now and Ricky lies in a hospital bed. Now Zadie is the sister of “coma kid”…no escaping the shade for this young lady.
So what better evil to send for her than the darkness. Henderson introduces us to the entity early in the issue. Zadie walking home alone after realizing Josh just wanted his Switch barely notices what’s behind her. I was impressed by how Garbett introduced the shadow into the story, just one example of the artist’s attention to detail this issue. Ever slowly, the shadow stalked Zadie, the artist morphing the creature back to harmless lampposts and mailboxes at just the right moment. Fabela’s attention to lighting as well makes a significant impact on the story. Nothing drives out darkness save light. Luminous colors are used to emphasize the times when Zadie is safe from harm. This creative team cleverly highlights this by adding a prank for Zadie and the reader during a scene at her school. Let’s just say she really isn’t safe from the “shade” anywhere.
It isn’t just at school where Zadie is in the dark. We get a glimpse of her at home with her family. This scene continues to confirm that Zadie’s teenage existence was based on her older brother. No more evident than with her mother for whom all light has gone from the world. This in turn causes the mother to lash out at Zadie, forcing the young woman to flee into the…you guessed it. However, this time the young woman receives help from an unlikely source. Image Comics Shadecraft # 1 ends with a simple question for Zadie. Why is the shadow she has been trying to get out from under now helping her?