Master Darque was a central character in the original Valiant Universe, first appearing in 1992's Shadowman #8 before crossing paths with much of the publisher's characters, and eventually starring in his own book, .
A new Shadowman #1 debuted last month as part of the ongoing Valiant revival, and with it came the first hints of Master Darque's return — but the antagonist will be back in full force as of March's issue #5, starting the second story arc of the series.
Keeping consistent to other relaunches in the Valiant line, series writer Justin Jordan's goal is to keep Master Darque recognizable to classic Valiant fans, while also ensuring he fits in a contemporary setting.
"He was a very popular villain, to the point where he was almost an antihero," Jordan told Newsarama. "That part of the character I think we managed to keep pretty close to. We've tinkered with, and expanded his motivation for why he does what he does. In some senses, I think he's a relatively sympathetic character, and will be when we get into the back story of why he became the person he became, and what he's trying to accomplish."
But while Darque's motivations may be somewhat relatable, Jordan makes it clear that he's still a "deeply scary guy." In addition to Master Darque, another classic Valiant character — not yet seen in the revival — will be appearing in the second arc, though Jordan declined to give any further hints.
Interior pages from Shadowman #3."The second arc, without getting too spoiler-y about it, is a consequence of what happens in the first arc," Jordan said. "It's a fairly direct continuation of what we were doing with the first arc, and the actions the various characters took there are continuing to have ramifications as time goes on."
Working at Valiant is something new for Jordan, who also writes for Image, plus and at DC Comics. Not only is he revamping existing characters from scratch, he's also working with a co-writer for the first time — series artist Patrick Zircher.
"It's going well. There is kind of a learning curve to it, because I've never co-written anything with anyone ever," Jordan said. "That's new for me, and that's new for Patrick, so we're still trying to feel out how the process works, and we're continuing to try different stuff as we go into the second arc. "
Jordan said taking on more work-for-hire gigs over the past year has been an "interesting experience," as he's getting to see first-hand how different companies operate.
"The process at Valiant, because there are so relatively few people working there, is really streamlined compared to what it would be working for a much larger company," the writer said. "It's been a lot of work, but it's been fun work."
The writer acknowledges that his take on Shadowman is likely a greater departure from the original incarnation than other books in the current Valiant lineup, but any alterations weren't at the expense of the character's fundamental appeal.
"This Jack Boniface is pretty different, but the bones of the character should be recognizable to anyone who's a fan of Shadowman," Jordan said. "If we got that right, the details are just gravy."
Though Shadowman — like all of Valiant's roster — hadn't been seen for years prior to his new series, Jordan said that the character has a timeless quality that fits right in with the current comic climate, much like other enduring figures within the medium.
"There's stuff like the blue jumpsuit, mullet kind of thing he had going on, that is not going to fly. But that's a fairly trivial design choice," Jordan said. "The actual essence of the character, and the kind of character X-O Manowar is, and Armstrong is, and the Eternal Warrior — I think those are fairly archetypal characters. And I don't mean that in the sense that they're flat. They have a resonance that will continue to work in the future."
To that end, Shadowman will grow to have a deeper connection to the rest of Valiant's titles, which readers will start to see a few arcs in to Jordan's run.
"There's not a lot of point of having a shared universe if you don't actually share it," Jordan said. "There is an explanation for how the mystical kind of side of things work and how that fits into the relatively science fiction-oriented feel of the Valiant Universe in general, and I think we've come up with a really organic way for that to work."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!