If you’re a fan of Jack Boniface, the dark hero of the Valiant Universe known as Shadowman, we have some good news and some bad news.
The good news is, starting in April, Jack will have his own event mini-series. It’ll be three issues that tie together the major storylines writer Peter Milligan has introduced in the main ongoing series so far.
The bad news is, it is ominously titled Shadowman: End Times, and Milligan teases that the series is “devastating,” and it’s “unlikely Shadowman could ever be the same” after the events of the series.
For more on the new mini-series, we chatted exclusively with Milligan, and since artist Valentine De Landro has only just gotten started on his work, Valiant sent along some incredible Roberto De La Torre art from Shadowman #15, alongside End Times covers by Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Mack, and Jeff Dekal.
Newsarama: Peter, first the obvious question: why does this story need to be told in its own mini-series, instead of in the regular ongoing?
Peter Milligan: The events of this mini-series are so devastating to Jack Boniface that I wanted to ring-fence it. By making it a mini-series we're saying that this is no normal Shadowman story; that somehow this stands apart.
Nrama: How closely does it tie to the ongoing series? Where does it fit into the story, for those keeping track?
Milligan: It very much ties in with the ongoing series. In some ways this is “Part Two” of my strategy when I took over this book. In my first storyline – “Fear, Blood, And Shadows” - I wanted to put my stamp on the book and the character. In this mini-series, I'm taking a more iconoclastic look at the Jack Boniface myth, but what happens here is as a direct result of all that has gone on before it.
Nrama: What makes horror and super heroics mix well in your opinion? Why does that combination appeal to you, personally?
Milligan: I think that horror can mess up super heroics’ good intentions. Which makes for a more interesting ride.
That said, though Shadowman feels more horror than superhero, I'm not sure if it's exactly a horror or a superhero book. What appealed to be about Shadowman was the admittedly quite horrific drama of a young man struggling to deal with something damaged and malign that had possessed him. That seems such a potent metaphor for how we deal with who we are as humans. Even the way the lines between Jack Boniface and this character called Shadowman are blurred - where does Jack stop and Shadowman start? - that seems to be exploring something really interesting about how we become the things that are haunting us.
Nrama: "End Times" certainly has a strong sense of finality to it. How literal is the title? What hope do fans of Shadowman, and specifically of Jack, have of him making it out of this latest adventure?
Milligan: I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that it's unlikely if Shadowman could ever be the same again after this mini-series. As to what hope fans might have of Jack and Shadowman making it out of this adventure, I'll quote Shelley: "Hope may vanish, but can die not."
Nrama: What can you tell us about Josiah, Jack's father, and what his involvement here is?
Milligan: Josiah, the previous possessor of the shadowman loa and Jack's father, has always been a real shadowman in this book. The father who died before Jack was born casts a long shadow over Jack's life. End Times in part deals with Jack finally trying to come terms with his past.
Nrama: Master Darque has only just made his full debut into the pages of Shadowman, but it would seem like he'd be involved if Jack was facing "end times." Does he have a part to play in this story, and either way, who else might we see show up?
Milligan: End Times, though a mini-series, follows on from my previous storyline. So we'll see where Jack and Alyssa's relationship seems to be going. The punk mambo will also play a role, and Jack finally meets his old adversary, Master Darque again – though in extreme and unexpected circumstances.
Nrama: What's it been like playing in the Valiant Universe, a smaller, more self-contained superhero world than you've been in lately?
Milligan: Positive. In fact, it's one the things that appealed to me about Valiant and about Shadowman in particular.
Nrama: If Shadowman's story continues beyond this one, would you like to see him become more involved with other characters at Valiant? Anyone else there you personally would like to play with a bit?
Milligan: The Valiant Universe seems fluid enough for most characters to interact with each other. So yes, I would. I wrote a one-off Bloodshot story recently. He's an interesting and perhaps under utilized character. Eternal Warrior is also intriguing.
Nrama: Any other hints or teases you'd like to give fans about Shadowman: End Times, Peter?
Milligan: Poor Jack. Poor, poor Jack.