Shadecraft brings back the Skyward team of Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett with a brand-new teen horror series where Zadie Lu is just your average small-town teen with a very good reason for being scared of the shadows…
The last time that creators Joe Henderson (showrunner on Fox’s Lucifer) and Lee Garbett (Loki: Agent of Asgard) got together to make comics, the result was Skyward, with its fascinating and innovative central concept of what it means to live in a low-G world resulting in fifteen issues of really great comics.
Yes, you could definitely say that the Henderson/Garbett team, along with returning colorist Antonio Fabela and letterer Simon Bowland, have form when it comes to delivering the goods on a great teen-focused comic series.
So… Shadecraft was always going to be worth a look, don’t you think, with Henderson & Garbett playing around with scarier themes whilst still keeping some of that wonderful sense of adventure that ran through the heart of Skyward, that sense of being able to tell a story where the teen voices we hear are wonderfully, refreshingly believable.
You know… like this…
The basic idea of Shadecraft concerns young Zadie Lu – that’s her above – having one of those mortifying teen moments that we’ve all suffered at one time or other… right?
And it’s on the walk home from that particular horrific moment in her young life when she walks straight into what’s going to drive this tale of shadows coming to life, shadows that seem to be out to get her…
Everything gets nicely set up within the first few pages, Zadie’s character set out, the awkward, endearing teen that Henderson and Garbett had such success with in Skyward, the mysterious threat lurking in (quite literally) the shadows… it’s all there in the opening act of Shadecraft.
And although, as you might expect, it’s a darker looking book than Skyward, with Garbett having to swap those bright, open skies for the very down to Earth streets of Zadie Lu’s little home town, there’s still plenty of opportunity for his art to really shine through the creeping, organic shadows of the setting, whether that’s in the walk and talk moments or this particular crescendo in that first sequence of Shadecraft…
After all that excitement though, the mid-portion of the first issue is where it shines brightest, with Henderson taking us further into Zadie’s world, both at her school and at home, where we learn about the tragedy that befell her family a while back and how they’re all dealing with it.
But it’s the school-set scenes, with Zadie struggling through the daily nightmare that is a teenager’s school day that were the finest moments of a first issue that did ever so much just right…
Shame, embarrassment, mortifying moments of just praying for the floor to open up beneath you… and that’s just when you’re talking to your best friends, never mind the nasty, bitchy kids who get to see you make an absolute show of yourself – and on camera as well.
Yes, it’s all here with Zadie having to suffer it… the poor girl.
There’s something so difficult about getting this sort of young dialogue just right and Henderson really does have a knack for it, making it seem so light and natural, a conversation that just flows to all the right beats. I know we’re not likely to get more of this every issue, as no doubt, we’ll be off on a shadowy adventure after the revelation of the ending, but I’d love to see Henderson take as many issues as he wanted to just do a school-set drama.
With the pedigree for doing a damn fine teen series, Henderson and Garbett’s Shadecraft was always going to be worth a look. But thankfully, it’s a lot more than that, with this first issue doing most everything it needed to – the only real problem I had with it was the ending, something that was just that little bit telegraphed, but I’m all for giving Henderson’s story the benefit of the doubt here, we’ll see how it plays out in the next few important issues.
Shadecraft Issue 1 – written by Lee Henderson, art by Lee Garbett, colors by Antonio Fabela, letters by Simon Bowland. Published by Image Comics on 31 March 2021.
Finally, should you want to read more on the Henderson & Garbett connection, have a read of the interview they gave to Hannah Means-Shannon back in 2018.