Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
In the city of Dranac in the year 200X, aspiring vigilante Scout Montana is knocked unconscious by a brick in her first crimefighting attempt. Upon recovering, she gains the ability to transform into a superhuman blue creature which she quickly takes advantage of and becomes the antihero Shadoweyes. Forced out of society, yet still bound to it, she takes to the streets to kick the crap out of jerks, to help those in need, and to stand against Dranac itself. But Scout finds things aren’t going to be easy even when you’re a superhero.
Where Monsterkind had a focus on social awareness, Shadoweyes is all about social “justice”… usually via good ol’ fashioned vigilantism.
Scout – formerly human now something… else. Scout is a young woman determined to fight injustice any way she can. After undergoing a freak transformation, she takes to the streets as the super-powerful vigilante “Shadoweyes”. Serious, broody, and painfully inexperienced in the ways of crime-fighting, Shadoweyes faces many challenges in her crusade to right her city’s wrongs.
Kyisha – Scout’s best friend and co-conspirator in social justice, she tries not to let her intersexuality define who she is. Sassy and well-read, she’s the first person to learn about Scout’s secret and the first person to call her out when she gets carried away in her role as Shadoweyes. She tries to enlighten Scout about different ways to fight injustice that don’t involve violence, but their views on the subject align less and less as time goes on.
Sparkle – bubbly and energetic beyond belief, Sparkle Park is Shadoweyes’ self-declared biggest fan, latching onto the rookie superhero with all her enthusiasm. Although she suffers from terminal lung cancer, ectrodactyly, and a persistent stammer, her spirits never lag for long. Her wish is help to Shadoweyes fight crime on the streets, but for right now she serves as Scout’s moral support when things get too dark or frustrating.
Noah – Kyisha’s boyfriend, Noah Mendoza is a young man struggling with a deep-seated anger, fueled mainly by his broken home life and the injustices he sees in “the system”. When the vigilante Shadoweyes begins to appear in the news, Noah sees it as a call to take up arms and enact his own brand of “justice” on the criminal scum of Dranac City. Headstrong, stoic, and intense, Noah is a still pond that hides roiling depths.
For more in-depth character descriptions, just go and click over to the comic’s Cast page.
The art is of a spectacular, professional quality, which makes sense considering that artist/writer Ross Campbell has made a name for himself through his previous graphic novel Wet Moon, as well the three or so graphic novel books he’s already sold for Shadoweyes. The linework is solid, sleek, and smooth, and everything, be it character or background, is filled to the brim with detail. Honestly, there might be too much detail – the busy backgrounds, forest of linework, and grayscale palette can sometimes swallow up characters and make it tricky to follow the action. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often and usually just in the scenes featuring the pipe-laced, garbage-filled, crime-riddled streets of Dranac city. Aside from that one picked nit, the artwork is superb, with great action scenes, solid character designs, and an impressive setting that makes you feel the grit and grime just by looking at it.
While a story about a dark broody teen superhero elicits certain preconceptions, I’m glad to say that Shadoweyes manages to avoid or play with all of them. The issues of rampant crime and an indifferent system are there, but one of the themes of the story is how the characters themselves don’t have the answers to those issues, let alone agree on them. However, we still see people get beat up for not only muggings and attempted murder, but also animal cruelty and bullying. It kind of undermines the message, I think, when the “heroes” run in and crowbar someone in the face for bullying someone else.
The characters themselves are well written, full of conflicting emotions, motivations, and all the angst-ridden drama that plagues young crime-fighters. Scout may fight violence with violence, but she strives to help her community in other ways, though her appearance complicates things. This sense of being simultaneously alienated from society yet still deeply connected to it is a huge part of what makes this story so compelling. Who hasn’t felt at once apart from the world and driven to help it? Scout’s frustration, not only with the system, but with their inability to fix it, is the most natural, human thing for a blue alien dinosaur to feel.
- Sensational artwork and stylish character designs makes it a joy to look at.
- Dystopian story is given a fresh, teenage angle.
- Well written characters feel completely natural given the story.
- An alarming amount of violence takes place despite the sub-moral of violence not being the only solution.
All in all, Shadoweyes is a great story that takes the dark edges of 90’s era comic books and modernizes them with a focus on social awareness and what it means to “fight” injustice. A great comic and the best way to enjoy it is to just jump right in and watch the action.
Shadoweyes is written by Ross Campbell. This comic, including all the images used here, belongs to him. It currently updates every Monday.
Next week – Monster’s Garden.
Sorry for the extremely late update.