My first encounter with the Shadowgirls took the form of a comic. For most, it will be the web site where they find the girls and make their home enjoying this new title. Shadowgirls is a hip, new comic from David A. Rodriguez (co-creator/writer) and Dave Reynolds (co-creator/artist). Unlike most comics I review you can read this one, start-to-finish, on-line. Here there's no hunting for the issue (though it can be easily purchased if you want a traditional copy or don't want to wait to see what happens next). No, to read Shadowgirls, you just visit their site [link] and dig in as they're posting a page a day unleashing one sharp looking new tale that's sure to build quite a following. This title looks really good on the internet and amazing on the printed page.
I learned of Shadowgirls at Wizard World Chicago where their corner table in Artist's Alley caught my eye. I was greeted by the creators who were quite welcoming to this potential new reader. Throughout the weekend, the team appeared to have a steady stream of visitors which I'm certain will equate to many new readers. Once you see this book, I think you'll be hooked. Both co-creators (Dave and David) were in attendance along with Misty Coats (who added a one page Shadowbabies back-up story to issue #1).
Who are the Shadowgirls?
The authors describes the title as Gilmore Girls meets H.P. Lovecraft and that's really pretty dead-on. I would personally throw in a little late-in-the-series Buffy feel to that description, but I tend to look for that in any series with a strong female lead. I guess you look for what you like.
The story opens with a birth. The lead character, Charon McKay, at age 15 has just returned from a nine month disappearance from her small coastal town (Innsmouth). Upon returning (well, actually she was found wandering naked in the desert chattering away in gibberish) she gives birth to a beautiful baby girl. Shortly after the birth, a mark on Charon's neck turns up on her new daughter's palm and a tumor in Charon's head mysteriously disappears. Charon has no memory of her time away, but there are hints that her grandmother may know a thing or two about what's taking place (or maybe I'm just reading too much into things). Charon's birth mother is not mentioned and clearly absent from the story.
We get to meet some of Charon's friends and enemies before taking a few jumps forward in time from then to now. As we jump to the present we get to see the struggles this single mother faces and the toll it has already taken on her family and relationships. In the present, it is clear that she has come through this period of her life stronger (actually much stronger) and her daughter is dealing with the day to day life of being a teenager. This, my friends, is where the story really starts to take off.
As if the interpersonal drama weren't enough, a group of fish monsters have risen from the deep, killed a fishermen and taken to land seeking the shadowchild. At the end of this first issue, these creatures have just caught up with Charon setting an ominous stage for issue two.
At several points in the story you can read "Nunquam Alieno" in a tattoo on Charon's lower back. Translated from Latin to English this phrase means "never forget". I'll be interested to see if this is a reference to her family or something deeper within this character's past.
What did we think of the story?
I really liked this story. This is one of three new comics we left Wizard World excited to have discovered. This series has real promise and I have a new daily stop on my web surf.
The author has a lot of story to tell, but it flows right onto the page with clarity. This ISN'T a fluff first issue that's all show and no payoff. This comic is packed with information and characters that feel genuine. There is emotion in the relationships and humor at all the right points. The interaction between Charon and Becka has a very real feel to it and the humor between the two is solid. If this is the banter we can expect when they go toe-to-toe with the big nasties, count me in!
Before the end of issue #1, we feel like we have a sense of history with these characters yet there is still the air of creepy mystery that shows the promise of Lovecraft horror. Charon is a strong character and you can sense a bond between her and her daughter. I can't wait to see these characters really let loose as you can feel that there's something mystical in their nature. If this series pulls off that slick balance of school, life and critter hunting once the plot rolls forward, we're going to have a winner here. The stage is set for success.
How about the art?
The storytelling is strong and the art more than lives up to that story. The color just pops off the printed page and the visual pacing of the panels allows for an energy of movement across each page that I particularly liked. This is an art style that really helps tell the story, gets you excited about reading the book and lends itself well to action sequences. There is a range here that will help the title. It can be uplifting and downright creepy and the story clearly will call for both. For example, a funeral scene part way through the first issue really showed how the art can turn dark on a dime. On the next page it's creepy with the boat sequence. Finally, we're back to fun with the morning after humor. I'm a fan of this look.
But I don't want to wait for the next page to post...
Mondays through Fridays this creative team tells the story one page at a time. Fans who don’t want to wait the full month to read the complete story can immediately order the first full-color issue through the Shadowgirls web site. Subsequent issues become available as soon as the first page of that issue is posted on the site. I have to admit this is a great way to sell a comic. Nice!
Check out Shadowgirls right now
by visiting www.shadowgirlscomic.com!