Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Cover Artist: Lee Garbett
Publisher: Image Comics
Last time, high-schooler Zadie discovered she was being haunted by the very shadows around her. They came to life and started attacking her in the middle of the night. However, one night into the woods revealed there’s one that would protect her from the rest – her brother. Shadecraft #2 explores just what the shadowy brother and sister will do now.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, or any of the others mentioned, simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon.
So, last time, Zadie discovered that her brother, Ricky, was a living shadow. Cool stuff! This issue is essentially dedicated to exploring what that means for both of them as they catch up on lost time. However, one key thing to note is that this comic doesn’t really progress the overall narrative of the killer shadows until the very end.
From the get-go, it’s established that the priority of this issue is to show the dynamic between Zadie and Ricky, now that he’s a living shadow. More importantly, he’s Zadie’s shadow now. There’s some initial awkwardness with her parents, but it’s thankfully covered in just one page. The meat of the story is in Zadie and Ricky’s dynamic that’s displayed to be a fun and caring brother-sister relationship.
Ricky is more of a fun-loving guy who looks out for his little sister, and every now and then he gives her a confidence boost with emotional support or just by making her laugh. Ricky is certainly a likable character this issue. This characterization by Henderson is greatly helped by the art from Garbett and colors by Fabela. They really make him the more human of the living shadows. The story does divulge what happened to him before the coma, but it doesn’t give away all the details, like how he became a living shadow.
When Zadie goes to school, this is where most of the issue takes place and it feels very by-the-numbers. As you’d expect, there’s some teen high-school drama, some more significant than others with some obvious tropes and pitfalls. Zadie’s talking to Ricky in public, she says his name at random points, runs into someone while talking to him, and she can’t come up with a simple explanation for what she’s doing. Readers’ milage will vary on this section.
Their time in school also shows that Ricky can’t be seen or heard by anyone else except Zadie, so this lets him get into several moments of mischief in the story. The real takeaway is when Zadie is sent to the new school counselor. This is the part where the comic gets….weird. I will explain in the Spoilers section.
When Zadie goes to meet the new school counselor, Angela, it’s the usual shtick from school counselors in teen dramas. She wants to know what Zadie’s going through, she’s here to listen, and to help process everything that’s going on. It’s pretty cliché, but not what’s really important. What’s important is that while Ricky is having fun messing with Angela, innocent stuff like putting bunny ears behind her, he finds out she has a gun in her desk.
Now, if that sets off some alarm bells, I believe that was the intent. But the real weird part is when Zadie and Ricky decide to sneak out after dark to learn more about the woods and killer shadows, and head to Angela’s office. For some reason. Their thought process for doing this isn’t that strong or well-reasoned even in their own. Yes, Angela having a gun on school grounds is definitely weird, but nothing about that says she’s connected to the shadows at all.
She never asks any weird questions, or innocent ones that upon further reflection feel deeper and directed towards Zadie’s recent contact with the shadows. Nothing like that at all. If anything, Angela just came off like a generic fictional school counselor, patient, even-tempered, and wiling to listen. And having a gun was the only notable thing about her. Then it gets even weirder when Zadie runs into Angela right outside her office, pointing the gun at Zadie.
Then this is where the comic drops the major bombshell. In this moment, Angela says she can explain everything but needs Zadie to calm down. Why? Simple, because Angela reveals that Zadie is the source of the killer shadows. If nothing else, this moment was well illustrated as we get some of that great shadow work from the artist and colorist once more to make the shadows literally come alive. I’m sure the next issue will explain everything. Hopefully.
Shadecraft #2 focuses on the characters here and not the plot. Specifically Zadie and her brother Ricky, as the comic takes the time to build the bond between them. The breakout character here is Ricky, being a lively and fun-loving character. The best parts of the comic are his interactions with Zadie and others as a living shadow that makes him stand out. However, the story of the living shadows takes a huge back seat to the brother-sister duo and almost feels forgotten until much later.