Valiant’s “Shadowman” is a book that has went through some significant creative shifts since its start, with it being co-written by Patrick Zircher and Justin Jordan, before Jordan himself took it over and established much of the foundation. It has been a hell of a foundation though, with some of the very best Valiant issues coming from this book. Now, Peter Milligan (X-Statix, Hellblazer) has taken over the title, and a major part of what he is looking to accomplish is getting into the mind of the man in “Shadowman.”
Today, we talk to Milligan about his plans for the book, what he wants to do in taking this book to the next level, what Jack Boniface is all about, and much more. Thanks to Milligan for chatting, and please take a look at a preview of issue #14 below as well.
So far, Shadowman is a book that has been almost as defined by its villains as it has been by its hero. What are you going to do to set Jack Boniface apart and make him stand out as his own man in this book and his world?
PM: That’s a good point. I think in fact a lot of stories have more defined villains than heroes. One of the goals of what I’m doing with Shadowman is to focus the book more on Jack. In the first storyline we’ll see another, darker side of Jack. One that centers on his attempts to get control of his life and the weird voodoo loa that’s attached itself to him. This will take Jack down some unexpected avenues and have him meet some very unexpected new characters.
From what I read, getting this job came out of you prepping for a short story you were set to write for the book, and Valiant executive editor Warren Simons liking what you had to say about the book. What are your thoughts on what this book has been missing, and what are you looking to do to take it to that next level?
PM: I wouldn’t say the book had been missing something, it’s more a matter of emphasis or what interests the writer. What interests me is Jack’s character. Jack has been through a lot in his young life: I want to explore this. I want to put Jack at the center of things.
This is a book that so far has starred a monkey in a top hat and featured a spire filled with human souls. It’s not afraid to get dark, and it’s certainly not afraid to get weird, and that’s never been something you’ve been against in your career. Will that be something you look to continue and even further embrace as you go along?
PM: Well, yes, you noticed that. The simple answer is yes, more darkness, more weirdness. This is something that appealed to me about Shadowman. But I think I’m actually taking it darker. By darker I don’t necessarily mean more blood or more ugly-looking demons (that kind of stuff never feels dark to me), I’m talking about psychology. I’ve said elsewhere that I always thought Jack came across a little too unscathed (considering what he’s been through and continues to go through). I want to remedy that.
The locales of this book are undoubtedly something that makes it stand out amongst all comics, with the Deadside and New Orleans being the primary places it takes place. Are the depths of those two locales something you’re going to continue to explore in your run?
PM: Again, yes. I really like the locale of New Orleans. It looks great, and it’s a heady fusion of people, culture and time. I also want to explore the backwoods and the bayous outside of the city. The Deadside is a cool location but it will be used sparingly. Jack will discover a very disturbing truth about this place that makes it seem less like a corner store you might pop into to buy a carton of milk.
The supporting cast on both sides – good and bad – have been hugely important to the book so far. Who are you most looking forward to play with on your run? We’re really hoping for Jaunty and Dr. Mirage, as we’re huge fans of them as characters.
PM: I’m not throwing any of the previous characters away. As my run progresses some of them will assume more importance (Jaunty makes a cameo in my first storyline). But I also want to introduce some new characters. And also build up and explore some of the existing cast.
Roberto de la Torre is a phenomenal fit for this book given his ability to find real beauty in the darkness of worlds. For you as a writer, what makes him an exciting partner to work with?
PM: Yes, Roberto is an excellent artist. There is a kind of classic, realist feel to his work that sits well with this book.
Speaking of art, Shadowman is getting a redesign. Or at least his costume is. What makes that something you wanted to do? Is it to help set Jack apart from the legacy that precedes him?
PM: It’s a part of putting my stamp on the character: saying that this is a new chapter. Not simply because I’m a new writer on the book but because the book is going to shift into something that will feel quite new.
Last but not least, this is a book that saw its hero defeat the main villain already. I mean, the jig is basically up. Shadowman wins! What are your long-term plans for this book, and how do you see this book fitting in the overall Valiant universe?
PM: The jig? The jig is not up or over or done. As far as Jack is concerned the jig is just beginning. I have BIG plans for the Shadowman series that will really shake things up and pretty much turn everything on its head. This book will focus much more on Jack’s “relationship” with the Shadowman loa, and also explore more of the loa/voodoo mythology that surrounds it. Jack’s relationship with the Abettors – and Alyssa – will change. The upshot is, Jack will try to do something about his loa. Finally – though I don’t want to spell this out too clearly – Jack will learn something that throws his life into a violent tailspin and puts the series on a whole new footing. More details will follow soon…