Exclusive: ZIRCHER & SIMONS Get Dark With Valiant SHADOWMAN

After news broke that Valiant was returning to comic shelves this summer, fans clamored to know if their favorite character was among the returning stars. After the successful launches of ongoing series for X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot and Archer & Armstrong, Valiant Entertainment announced today a fifth ongoing series -- Shadowman. Fresh new comics writer Justin Jordan (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode) joins artist and co-writer Patrick Zircher (Captain America) on this series about the dark hero of the Big Easy that’s scheduled to launch this November.

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For Zircher, launching a new Shadowman series and working under the Valiant umbrella is a bit like coming full circle in his comics career; Zircher did a run on Solar, Man of the Atom early in his career and also did Revelations, a crossover featuring Valiant characters, for Acclaim. Last month Newsarama spoke with Zircher about his redesign of Ninjak for his re-debut in X-O Manowar, and now that news is out of his full-fledged return to Valiant in Shadowman we talked with him and Executive Editor Warren Simons for more on the story.

Newsarama: Patrick, Warren, just how are you and Justin Jordan re-introducing Shadowman to the Valiant universe and the comics world?

Patrick Zircher: We're starting at the beginning. Though he's hurled into the action and intrigue early on, our story is an introduction to Shadowman – an origin.

Warren Simons: I'm extremely happy to have Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher on board as the creative team for the launch of Shadowman. The guys have been incredibly dedicated to the project and have been great to work with. As for the reintroduction of Shadowman, our goal is to update and modernize Shadowman while tapping into the key elements that made him such an incredibly popular character once upon a time, similarly to our relaunches forX-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot, and Archer & Armstrong ongoings.

Nrama: Longtime Valiant fans have seen a couple different people take up the Shadowman name – so just who is Shadowman in this new series?  

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Zircher: There's a lineage, a legacy to the Shadowman character but Jack Boniface has always been at the core of the series and he's our man here. The newness of his experience, seeing his story the way we might see it, makes Jack a great choice.

Simons: Shadowman is one of the most popular characters that we have in the Valiant Universe. Since we announced X-O Manowar last May, I've had hundreds of fans ask me where Shadowman was, and when Jack Boniface would be returning to the Valiant Universe. So while we'll be updating the character, this will be Jack Boniface, the first published Shadowman. As longtime fans will remember, Jack is a very compelling character — one who was years ahead of his time. Shadowman has had some great writers over the years – Steve Englehart, Bob Hall, Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano, just to name a few, so while we will be sticking with Jack Boniface, we'll also be mining terrific elements from other runs.

Nrama: What is Shadowman up against in this new series?

Simons: Jack's at the center of a violent war that's been going on long before he assumed the mantle of Shadowman. Master Darque will play a key role, as will a number of new groups that Patrick and Justin are introducing into the Valiant Universe. As we'll discover, Jack's going to need to get his bearings very quickly if he has any shot at surviving. 

 

Nrama: One of the key elements of the 2012 Valiant relaunch was that the characters all co-existed in the same universe. So just how does Shadowman fit into that?

Simons: I'm going to avoid any spoilers, but I will say that the revamped Shadowman is a character who's going to learn very quickly that the material world around him is not at all what it seems. Jack's journey to uncover his past — and to learn about those who came before him — will lead to him unlocking a key part of what makes the Valiant Universe tick, one we haven't seen before.

Nrama: Patrick, we spoke with you last month about your redesign of Ninjak for X-O Manowar, so can you talk about your redesign of the Shadowman costume?

Nrama: We wanted a design that evoked Shadowman's earliest appearances, that brought out the night-stalking adventurer in him, without losing a touch of the macabre. Something streamlined but still interesting, something that works in the shadows. We also wanted some new things, like an updated mask and the Sengese Blade, a modern version an African heritage weapon. 

 

Nrama: Previous versions of the character have been rooted in the city of New Orleans. Is this new Shadowman calling NOLA home as well?

Zircher: You bet. Justin and I see New Orleans as a focal point for the kind of forces that appear in Shadowman. There are aspects of the city that fit in beautifully with our storyline. As an artist it's a great location as well, a wonderful city to draw.

Nrama: Patrick, you have a long history with the Valiant characters, drawing them during the original Valiant era and also at Acclaim. During that time however, I can’t find where you drew Shadowman – is this your first time doing him professionally?

Zircher: Yes it is. I had wanted a Shadowman gig when I was starting out years ago but for one reason or another that didn't happen. When Warren Simons called about working with Valiant, one of the first things I asked about was Shadowman. 

 

Nrama: What’s it like, doing Valiant when you were just starting out and now returning and doing it years later as a comics veteran?

Zircher: It was good back then, but it's great now. I'm able to be even more creative this time around. Though we are bringing back classic Valiant characters, we're really reintroducing and re-imagining a lot as well. I feel involved in shaping the Valiant universe. It's damn thrilling.

Nrama:  Another exciting facet of this relaunch is that you’re co-writing it, the first time you’ve been credited as writing comics since your adaptation of Jason & The Argonauts I believe. How’d this happen, and is it something that drew you to this project?

Zircher: I've always wanted to infuse stories with ideas, work with scenes, structure, and pacing – and, honestly, it chafes when I'm not given a chance to do that. Warren and I had worked together in the past and he knew a higher degree of collaboration – brainstorming – was important to me. Not every writer is willing to co-write and nothing could have been more serendipitous than teaming up with Justin Jordan. His and Tradd Moore's The Strange Talent of Luther Strode is terrific and I really enjoyed it. Well, in discussing Strode with Warren, it turns out Justin had recently pitched Shadowman. That is what I call happy circumstance.

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