This issue pulls back a bit from the shadowy horrors of the first issue in order to flesh out its main characters, leaning heavily into the fun dynamic of loving sibling rivalry attached to the pains of the high school world. Every page is a true artistic journey as the colors and imagery tell their own little stories in-between the story elevating the entire issue in a grand way.
Sibling relationships are more often than not quite complicated. Yet, the best ones are those where no matter how they feel about each other at the moment, they’ll have each other’s backs when things go down. Even if they have to emerge from a car accident-caused coma as a shadow being to help their sibling fight off other shadowy beings. That’s where things stand for Zadie and Ricky Chu in Shadecraft #2.
Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela, and Simon Bowland hit the ground running with the series’ first issue, laying out the foundations before bringing the audience right into the mysteries of this series. The second issue follows a similar path as more backstory is given and some of the mysteries laid out in the debut are explored more. A big thing that makes the story work is even with the shadows and the mysteries around them and shadowy Ricky, the core concept of this being a series about youth and finding yourself and dealing with your baggage is not forgotten.
The sibling moments between Zadie and Ricky, which feel extremely realistic on so many levels, and the moments within the school are some of the best. Henderson has the voices of teenagers and others down, none of it feels like the ‘adult writing teens’ that can sometimes happen in fiction. Even down to the do-it-for-the-views/clicks type situation with the young woman that bullied Zadie previously. As an educator, this hits home in a lot of ways about the interactions of teenagers that are observed far too often when it comes to their social interactions and their preoccupation with internet fame/following.
Garbett and Fabela continue to be a wonderful duo that creates such stunning imagery and make sure that every setting has its own mood. The bedroom has a different feel with its mellower purples compared to the bright yellows and harsher colors of the high school hallways right into the blue and seemingly more welcome but still suspicious office of the counselor.
Bowland’s wonderful lettering work adds its own flavor to these changing moods, both in the serious moments and one hilarious moment in the school with the security guard.
Just like the last issue the use of shadows outside of Ricky and the ‘monsters’, is so well done. As Zadie’s emotions/mindset begin to take turns, the shadows increasingly become far more ominous around her. Visual indicators like that of character feelings or incoming danger are just really cool. Especially when it culminates with the darkly gorgeous final page spread where a major revelation is dropped on Zadie about these shadows.
This is one of those books where it is truly hard to nail down all the words about how great, detailed, and beautiful the artwork within this series is because the art speaks louder and better for itself. It’s the type of work where all the words could be taken away and it tells its own story just on sight alone. It will make a reader pause just to take it all in or flip back to just look at certain pages over and over again. That’s how good it is.
Shadecraft #2 is now on sale from Image Comics in print and digitally.