Writer: Joe Henderson
Artists: Lee Garbett & Antonio Fabela
Cover Artist: Lee Garbett
Publisher: Image Comics
Zadie Lu has been dealing with a lot in her life. High school drama, her older brother Ricky’s in a coma, supernatural shadow monster powers. Now a government conspiracy surrounding Shadecraft is looming over her head. But now everyone’s caught up to speed, and Shadecraft #5 shows how far Zadie’s come as she and her family fight to save Ricky.
So, this issue picks up where Shadecraft #4 left off with a bunch of rushed revelations about Zadie’s parents, her mom in particular, and the the truth about Agent Angela Owens. Reading that issue made me feel like the creators really wanted to get some things established real quick so they can get to this moment with Zadie and Melinda, her mom, working together. It’s not a bad idea, but it just feels like they sped things up a little too much to make it happen.
Fro the get-go, we get to see Zadie using her powers in full action and what’s most surprising is her teamwork with her mother. The series set up that they didn’t have the best relationship and were working on it and it’s nice to see it be very positive. Although it feels like the series skipped a few beats to get to this point in previous issues. The issue also kind of laid out a couple exposition dumps to explain character actions and motives in the past. Some far less successful than others.
The confrontation between the pair and Agent Owens is pretty underwhelming, though the art and colors by Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela looks great. As usual, the living shadows and Ricky look amazing and quite ethereal. And the interaction between Zadie and Ricky, while a little lacking, is still very wholesome. However, the dynamic between Melinda and Agent Owens is the weaker one here.
The problem with them is that it’s very by-the-numbers, like the rest of Melinda’s past. There’s nothing new revealed here that people might not have deduced on their own and the actual dialogue itself, while not terrible, isn’t that interesting. However, there is one interesting point brought up in their conversation that could lead to some great stories in future issues, and I’ll get to in the Spoilers section.
By the end, the comic’s story resolves itself in a tight and quick manner and sets things up looking brighter for Zadie and her family moving forward. The only real downside is the lack of a true threat or danger for the family., and I’ll discuss that in the Spoilers section too.
As I said before, the comic ends on a nice note for Zadie and the family, but the biggest problem the series faces is the lack of true threats to Zadie and her family. In the comic, Zadie and her mom fight regular human military soldiers, who are woefully unprepared to fight them, and beat them effortlessly. So there’s very little suspense for either Zadie or her mother while reading the comic, other than if they can save Ricky from his own negative emotions.
However, this can be rectified if the creators pick up on a specific angle they brought up and run with it. In the confrontation between Melinda and Agent Owens, the latter mentions that after Melinda left the original Shadecraft program, everything fell to pieces. The government shut it all down and possibly killed the other members. However, that’s where future story arcs could lean into for actual villains – the original Shadecraft members. They could reveal that one or several survived and want revenge on both the government and Melinda for ruining their lives.
That would allow the series to maintain its focus on exploring Shadecraft, give it a way to spice up the government conspiracy angle, and it presents actual challenges for Zadie and her family to face that can’t be easily dealt with. However, judging by the end of the issue and the author note by Joe Henderson, it’s hard to say where the series will end up going.
Shadecraft #5 brings a solid resolution to the series’ first story arc. The family interactions between the characters are wholesome. However, the confrontation with Agent Owens was underwhelming and feels very by-the-numbers. The artwork with the shadows continues to look great and be an instant draw for the series. The comic ends on a bright note that leaves enough plot points open for future issues in Shadecraft while providing a solid conclusion to the first story arc.