The Last ShadowHawk #1 is written by Brian Haberlin & Jim Valentino from a story by Philip Tan, penciled by Tan, inked by Daniel Henriques, colored by Federico Blee, and lettered by Todd Tochioka. Image Comics published it under the Shadowline banner. For years, the mysterious vigilante known as ShadowHawk has been delivering his own brand of brutal justice to evildoers. But the shadows of his past and the long years battling criminals have caught up with him, as a mysterious man named Rache seeks vengeance for what ShadowHawk did to his father. As he enters into the fiercest battle of his career, ShadowHawk reflects on his adventures and methods.
ShadowHawk is one of Image’s premiere characters, standing alongside Spawn and Savage Dragon as one of the first titles the indie publisher ever released. And given that Image is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, it would only make sense that ShadowHawk would get an anniversary story. However, Haberlin & Valentino’s script attempts to tackle a lot of ideas in only thirty pages. While the effort is admirable, especially in the parts where ShadowHawk contemplates his bloody legacy, the execution will leave anybody who hasn’t read ShadowHawk’s adventures cold. A good example of what this book is aiming for can be found in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin, as it has a similar plot but manages to be accessible to new readers as well as long-time Turtle fans.
While the story may be a bit scattershot, the art isn’t. Tan has always been an underappreciated artist in my eyes, with his work on Shang-Chi and Spawn being highlights. And The Last ShadowHawk is an extremely visually appealing book, mainly due to the fact that Tan and Henriques utilize a number of splash pages to tell their story. The very first page sets the scene: it’s a close-up of ShadowHawk’s helmet, broken and bloodied, and his eye staring out at the reader with fear. The rest of the issue is dedicated to ShadowHawk’s fight with Rache. The two literally punching each other across pages and drawing fountains of blood in the process. Rache himself is the perfect embodiment of a 90’s era supervillain: all muscles and dark clothing, including an impressive mohawk.
And finally, Blee plays with different combinations of colors to great effect. The most prominent are black and silver since they’re the foundation of ShadowHawk’s costume. But red also is a permanent fixture, given all the blood that’s spilled in the issue. So is gold, as the Nomno – the pantheon of golden Egyptian gods that empower ShadowHawk – make frequent appearances. That same mix of colors is applied to Tochioka’s lettering, giving each character their own distinct voice. ShadowHawk’s narrative captions are a steely blue, Rache’s word balloons are black and white, and the Nomno speak in a shimmering, golden set of letters that feels appropriately otherworldly.
The Last ShadowHawk #1 is a well-illustrated yet scattershot story featuring one of Image’s premiere heroes. While ShadowHawk readers and Image fans may love the story, newcomers will probably only pick it up for the art. And if the creators decide to tackle more ShadowHawk stories in the future, I do hope they’re accessible to readers of all kinds.
The Last ShadowHawk #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
The Last ShadowHawk #1
The Last ShadowHawk #1 is a well-illustrated yet scattershot story featuring one of Image’s premiere heroes. While ShadowHawk readers and Image fans may love the story, newcomers will probably only pick it up for the art.