One of the characters whose return to the revamped Valiant universe I’ve been most curious about is Shadowman: the masked, supernatural avenger who would prowl the streets of New Orleans, using his fists to keep the night safe from thugs and otherworldly menaces. Sax playing hero (it was the 90’s and that was a thing for a while) Jack Boniface was often a street-level hero among the cyber-suited, nanite-powered, immortal heroes in the Valiant U and he represented the supernatural corner of the universe.
A little over 20 years after making his first appearance in the pages of X-O Manowar, Jack is back in November’s Shadowman #1, featuring scripts by co-writers Patrick Zircher (Captain America, Thor: Ages of Thunder) and Justin Jordan *The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, Team 7), with art by Zircher.
What does the duo have in store for the Jack Boniface? How will magic work in the new Valiant universe? Will Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler be a part of it in any way? For all these answers and more, check out my interview with Zircher after the jump. Plus, we’ve got an exclusive look at his original costume design for the new Shadowman.
MTV Geek: How familiar were you with the previous incarnations of Shadowman?
Patrick Zircher: I had read maybe six or seven issues of the classic series. Prior to working on the book, I bought all the issues I could find at my local comic shop.
Zircher: I wanted to co-write and to work with a new talent, a new voice. I went through a heap of indie comics and found Justin Jordan’s Strange Talent of Luther Strode. Simply put, it rocked. Less simply, Justin “got” comics, how to bring characters to life, make them relatable, the little nuances in dialogue that make a page flow. Well, Warren Simons and I were batting around names and when Justin Jordan came up, Warren said he’d gotten a pitch for Shadowman from him. You know that moment in Seinfeld when Elaine would get super-excited about something, shove Jerry and shout “Get out!” It was like that.
Geek: What’s that collaboration been like?
Zircher: Pretty awesome. At first we talked in generalizations, about what we liked. Who we wanted Shadowman to be. Then scurried back to our holes and wrote reams of material, retooling the pitch, tuning it up. We broke down arcs, issues, characters. We conferenced with Warren several times. Warren nurtured the ideas he thought were especially strong and made us examine more closely the “iffy” ones. Justin and I like each others ideas, a lot of the same themes, but what really matters is we like telling stories in the same way. Justin does the scripting because a) he’s really good at it, and b) I use words like “groovy.”
Geek: Of all of the early Valiant heroes, in spite of the supernatural elements around him, Jack was still a very street level kind of character. To what extent will the new Shadowman embody that?
Zircher: Less street. Even in his appearance we’ve moved away from a leather jacket for a costume. Fantastic things happen to Jack, crazy, powerful forces come into play.
Geek: Jack Boniface was also a really idiosyncratic character at the time–a jazz saxophonist who really would have rather not bothered with the whole dark vigilante thing. Are you looking to bring back some of that ambivalence to the character?
Zircher: Not quite. In the classic series, it took Jack a long time to get the head of steam that made him feel being Shadowman mattered to him. Becoming Shadowman changes Jack’s life. He can’t ignore it.
Geek: Tell us about your take on Jack Boniface.
Zircher: Jack Boniface is the foundation for the series, our hero. But becoming Shadowman changes everything for him. Not unlike getting bit by a radioactive spider.
Geek: Could you talk about the new design of the character? What were some of the things you guys wanted to hold over from the original look?
Zircher: We wanted to get closer to the early look without losing a menacing, macabre feel; that, and a guy who punches monsters in the mouth ought to have decent fighting togs.
Geek: With Shadowman, we now have the supernatural pillar of the Valiant universe in play. Could you tell us a little bit about it, what kinds of rules of magic you, Jordan, and editorial might have discussed?
Zircher: We can only say magic isn’t the way it’s usually portrayed in comics. You may want to check your Arthur C. Clarke quotes.
Geek: Can we expect to see characters like Nettie or Master Darque make an appearance during your run? Maybe Steven Tyler???????
Zircher: Characters from the classic series will be appearing along with new ones. As far as Master Darque, I can’t imagine a Shadowman book without him. As far as Steven Tyler, I Draw the Line.
Geek: Before you go, could you tease a couple of your favorite things from the first arc?
Zircher: I feel like we’re creating a rogues gallery and a memorable supporting cast for Shadowman. I love drawing Jack, in and out of costume. I can’t express how fun and exciting that is.
Shawdowman #1 will be available both in print and digitally from Valiant Comics this November.