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Artwork from Shadowman #1 (November 2012)
Art by Patrick Zircher
|First appearance||X-O Manowar #4 (May 1992) 1st Jack Boniface cameo, Shadowman #1 (May 1992) 1st full Shadowman appearance|
|Created by||Jim Shooter
|Alter ego||Jack Dominique Boniface|
|Team affiliations||Secret Weapons|
|Partnerships||Archer & Armstrong|
When the Darque Power fills Jack Boniface, he has the following abilities:
Shadowman is a fictional superhero who appears in comic books published by Valiant Comics. The character debuted in Shadowman #1 (May 1992), and was created by writers Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart, artist David Lapham and inker Bob Layton. Shadowman appears in his own series as well as numerous other Valiant comics and also stars in the Shadow Man video game franchise by Acclaim Entertainment.
Shadowman is a lineage and four characters have taken up the mantle thus far in the comics and video games. The series protagonist is Jack Boniface.
Since his introduction, Shadowman has been a key character in the Valiant Universe and has sold over 5.3 million copies to date with 80 issues published. Shadowman comics have been translated into a number of languages including German, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Filipino and Chinese among others. Shadowman is so tied to the city of New Orleans that New Orleans mayor Sidney Barthelemy officially proclaimed January 17 as “Shadowman Day.”
Shadowman has also had success in video games, selling over 2 million copies and garnering an IGN rating of 9.1/10 for the first game. Shadow Man also garnered a 93% rating for N64 Magazine, the same score as N64 favorites Donkey Kong 64 and Mario Kart 64. Shadow Man was named one of the “Top 20 Black Characters in Gaming by BET. IGN.com named Shadow Man the N64 game of the month for August 1999. And IGN.com also named Shadow Man one of the three most important Black characters on the N64 saying "Shadow Man is one of the strongest, most uncompromising characters in any game on any platform."  The Shadowman video game was released around the world and translated into a number of languages including German, Russian, Spanish, French and Italian among others.
Shadowman debuted in 1992 as a flagship title in the Valiant Universe and quickly became one of the industry’s most popular comic books. After just one year in publication, Shadowman was selling over 100,000 comics books a month. By its second year, Shadowman was outselling long-standing industry stalwarts from Marvel Comics and DC Comics including Batman, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Ghost Rider, and even the Justice League of America.
Shadowman continued strongly with sales in the hundreds of thousands of books per month (ultimately selling more than 5 million copies altogether) until 1996 when Acclaim Entertainment, which bought Valiant for $65 million, started a new Shadowman series under the Acclaim Comics banner. Acclaim focused on adapting Shadowman for video games. In preparation for the leap to video games a new more action oriented Shadowman took up the mask in comics. The second series of comics (spelled Shadow Man) featured the iteration of Shadowman that would gain huge popularity in the successful Shadow Man video game franchise.
In 1999, Shadow Man was released on the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and PC formats to a tremendous critical and commercial response. The game is one of the video game industry’s most acclaimed, garnering a rating of 9.1/10 on the prestigious IGN website. Acclaim launched a third Shadowman comic book series in conjunction with the highly anticipated sequel to the first Shadow Man video game. The sequel entitled Shadow Man: 2econd Coming was a hit and a third game in the series began development. The sequel, Shadow Man: 2econd Coming was released in 2002 as a PlayStation 2 exclusive. In all the Shadow Man franchise has sold over 2 million copies and grossed close to 100 million dollars in revenues making it one of Acclaim's greatest success stories. The series proved so popular that Nintendo released a special Shadow Man themed limited edition N64 console that has become a sought after collectible. In 2006, a campaign was begun by fans to make the Shadow Man series of games available for download on the Nintendo Wii system.
A tremendous roster of legendary creators have worked on Shadowman characters and storylines including current Marvel Comics Editor-in Chief Joe Quesada, former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, Sin City co-director Frank Miller, Garth Ennis, Rob Liefeld, Barry Windsor-Smith, Jamie Delano, Steve Ditko, David Lapham, Rags Morales, Fabian Nicieza, Jim Starlin, Bob Layton, Jimmy Palmiotti, Walt Simonson and Ashley Wood among many others. With issue seven Bob Hall took over writing chores and continued as the primary writer on the book until the first "Shadowman" run ended with issue 43. As of issue ten he took over penciling the book as well.
Over 80 Shadowman comics have been published to date, selling more than 5 million copies. Shadowman also guest starred in a number of Valiant comics, most notably "Unity" and "Unity 2000". Acclaim shut down all comic book publishing in 2002 in anticipation of a bankruptcy filing of its parent company after suffering heavy losses from its licensed sports video games. Valiant Entertainment are the current owners of the Valiant catalog.
Shadowman has had his likeness transferred to many other mediums in addition to comic books and video games including trading cards, posters, apparel, jewelry, lithographs, high end collectibles and more.
Fictional character biography
Jack Boniface is playing saxophone for a packed jazz bar deep in the heart of New Orleans one night. A successful musician and hopeless romantic, Jack dreams of a record deal, but until then is happy to realize that a beautiful woman named Lydia has been coming to the bar every night to watch him play. That night they leave the bar together. They go to her residence, where Jack consumes a drugged drink and falls unconscious, believing this is his last moment on Earth. In the morning he wakes to find Lydia gone, and a strange mark on his neck. Later that night, Jack stalks the streets, compelled by an urge to hunt Lydia down and take revenge. He finds a discarded carnival mask on the street and, inexplicably drawn to it, picks it up. Jack hears the cries of a woman being assaulted in a back alley. He confronts the attacker, and finds that he has superhuman strength and speed, with which he is able to frighten the attacker into fleeing.[volume & issue needed]
Jack’s housekeeper Nettie, a voodoo practitioner, senses the change in Jack. She explains that something evil in the night ripped open the doorway to his soul. Now, whenever shadows fall, his soul comes out, takes over, and goes hunting. She tells him, "In voodoo talk, ‘shadow’ means soul. You the Shadowman." Nettie feels the presence of a loa, or spirit, named Bosou Koblamin in Jack. Bosou has become Jack’s maît-tête, the loa who stands for him. Nettie tells him that although ignorant people think Bosou is evil, in truth Bousou embodies a rage against evil, and is not possessing Jack, but helping him.[volume & issue needed]
Nettie, feeling that Jack's newborn nighttime identity of Shadowman is part of his destiny, makes Jack an outfit for this new identity, which bears the image of his soul stepping out and three spikes of light piercing the darkness—just like Bosou’s three horns. Putting on the mask, Jack roams the streets and confronts violent criminals.[volume & issue needed]
Dead bodies start piling up in New Orleans but these dead bodies have been reanimated and are found running, ranting, and raving with blood pouring from their orifices before they collapse and die. The public dubs them "Bloodrunners". Jack looks into the deaths with his friend Marty, who double crosses him and takes Jack to a fearsome albino necromancer named Master Darque, the man behind the Bloodrunners. Darque turns the Bloodrunners on Jack, but Shadowman takes over and he escapes, though not before Darque is able to take some of Jack's hair. Darque uses it to resurrect one of the fallen men as a zombie and send him after Jack.[volume & issue needed]
As Jack's newfound supernatural abilities grow with each passing night, he begins to wonder where he ends and Shadowman begins. Although a confident fighter by night, during the day, he is filed with doubt. Master Darque is able to bring Jack under his control, but with the help of the loa, Jack overcomes Darque’s power. Although Darque still claims the lives and energy of hundreds of people, giving him enough power to last for years, he now has found a nemesis in Shadowman.[volume & issue needed]
The reimagining of Shadowman in the Acclaim universe, also known as Shadowman V2, made some drastic changes to the Shadowman universe. The first four issues called "Deadside", which were written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Ashley Wood set a much darker tone to the series and moved it away from sci-fi to a more Voodoo magic/mystical setting with horror elements. But that would change however, as other writers and artists progressed the story, somewhat disrupting the story line and the vision Ennis had for Shadowman, which was that of a zombie hitman. Therefore there are many inconsistencies between issues 1–4, issues 5–15 and issues 16–20, with the last issue ending in a cliffhanger.
The Deadside story arc starts with an autopsy of mutilated body of Jack Boniface, who (as we later find out) was sadistically and somewhat humorously butchered by four dead men who have somehow escaped from Deadside. Nettie too has been injured by the dead men, she was barely able to escape death, but was reduced to a skeleton, forced to stay alive by using voodoo. Nettie also stars as a much more menacing and manipulative character, not to mention her newfound distinguishing accent. As the story progresses we are introduced to Jaunty, an Irish skullheaded serpent wearing a top hat, who is Nettie's eyes and ears in Deadside. We are also introduced to Zero, a black man who works as a hitman for a local barman and struggles with the fact that he doesn't remember his past; excluding five years after his awakening from a coma and running away from a hospital. All Zero has left after his awakening is a tattered teddy bear and a seemingly inborn knowledge of killing. The story centers itself on Zero and his unwilling yet unavoidable fate of becoming the next and true Shadowman, as well as rediscovering his past and Nettie's connection to him. Not to mention the four dead men on the loose wreaking havoc.
The first issue of Volume 2 was released on March 1997 and ran for 20 issues, with the final issue being released on October 1998.
In 2012, Valiant Entertainment launched new titles featuring the Valiant characters. Its fifth title was Shadowman by writer Justin Jordan and artist Patrick Zircher, which debuted on November 7, 2012. The title is currently no longer being published.
Some time ago, evil forces led by Master Darque invade New Orleans through a portal. Jack Boniface's father, Josiah, leaves a special amulet to his wife, Helena LeBreton, before going off to face Master Darque. In the streets, Josiah's friend, Dox, is leading allies against invasion forces from the Deadside. Josiah, as Shadowman, enters the battle. Master Darque waits for the perfect time as the sun rises to strike Josiah in hopes that the Shadowman can be killed under the light of day. Josiah likewise delivers a blow to Master Darque in hopes of killing him as well. Master Darque, requiring Shadowman to take him somewhere beyond his reach, pulls Josiah into a portal. Thereby, ending the invasion for now. Dox seeks out Helena, but she has fled New Orleans.[volume & issue needed]
When Jack is old enough, Helena gives him the amulet, and disappears. Leaving jack in foster care. When jack is fully grown, he works at odd jobs in New Orleans in search of his parents. An investigator, Dave Burke, pays Jack a visit at his latest job at the museum. Jack learns that his parents were criminals on the run. His father Josiah, had been charged with homicide, but nothing was ever proven in court. Both of his parents are currently nowhere to be found.[volume & issue needed]
Elsewhere, a monster called Mr. Twist slaughters patrons at a bar. He then turns two police officers into monsters called Bretheren. Meanwhile, Jack, distraught about his criminal parents, decides to throw his special amulet into the river. Without the amulet protecting Jack, Dox's protege, Alyssa, is able to detect him. She refers to Jack as the Host. Dox realizes that if Alyssa can detect Jack, so can the Bretheren. Jack is kidnapped by two Bretheren, and after driving him to a remote location, they gun him down when he attempts to flee. He is then unexpectedly merged with a mysterious shadow entity, who heals his injuries and turns into Shadowman.[volume & issue needed]
As Shadowman, Jack possesses paranormal strength, endurance, agility, and reflexes, night vision, regenerative healing, gliding capabilities, depleted fear, and other voodoo powers.
In other media
Acclaim released the Shadow Man video game in November 1999 on the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and PC. A sequel, entitled Shadow Man: 2econd Coming was released for PlayStation 2 in 2002, following the events after the end of the first game. The events of the first game were loosely adapted into a single issue of Shadow Man volume 3.
Among its fans, Shadowman counts rapper/actor Ice Cube, who approached Acclaim Entertainment in 1999 about mounting a feature film. Acclaim declined this offer, as they were focused on the success of the Shadowman video game franchise. Others linked with the role include Will Smith, DMX and The Game. In October 2012, Valiant Entertainment announced a film version of the property, produced by Sean Daniel and written by J. Michael Straczynski.
The 1992 series has begun being collected in hardcovers under the Valiant Masters banner:
- Valiant Masters: Shadowman Vol. 1: Spirits Within (collects Shadowman (1992) #0-7)
The 2012 relaunch of the series has been collected into several volumes:
- Shadowman Vol. 1: Birth Rites (collects Shadowman (2012) #1-4)
- Shadowman Vol. 2: Darque Reckoning (collects Shadowman (2012) #5-9)
- Shadowman Vol. 3: Deadside Blues (collects Shadowman (2012) #0, 10-12)
- Shadowman Vol. 4: Fear, Blood and Shadows (collects Shadowman (2012) #13-16)
- Shadowman: End Times (collects Shadowman: End Times (2014) #1-3)
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- AndyS (2010-06-26). "All Things VALIANT: Shadowman Day in New Orleans". Allthingsvaliant.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
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- "Top 20 Black Characters in Gaming: #11 Mike Leroi aka Shadow Man | GamePlay | BET.com". Blogs.bet.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
- "N64 Games of August - IGN". Ign64.ign.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
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- "The Shadow Meets the Ice". IGN. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
- Fleming, Mike. "'Shadowman' - J. Michael Straczynski To Write Film Based On Valiant Comic". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
- McMillan, Graeme (April 21, 2015). "'Bloodshot', 'Harbinger' Comics to Get Film Treatment From Sony, Valiant Entertainment (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.