As a teenager, it’s hard living underneath your popular siblings shadow. Zadie Lu knows quite well. She’s the little sister of the most popular kid in school who, after an accident, left him in a coma. It’s already hard being a teenager, but now be known as the girl with the brother who is in a coma. Despite the trauma of her brother’s condition, Zadie wants some normalcy in her life, but supernatural forces get in her way in the form of evil shadows.
From the creative team of the Eisner-nominated series Skyward, writer Joe Henderson reteams with artist Lee Garbett to bring Image Comics’ Shadecraft to life.
The first issue centers around getting to know Zadie and the people in her life, including her only two friends, her parents, and her comatose big brother, Ricky. After walking home late at night, Zadie begins to see shadows slowly close in on her to attack. Could it be her imagination or are they really trying to kill her?
Despite just reading the first issue, Henderson gives Zadie a lot of relatability. She is likeable, awkward, and very clumsy. After misinterpreting her friend’s feelings for her, she did what any teenager would do in that situation – run away and pretend it never happened. Her relationship with her brother is hinted to be one full of sibling rivalry, but very loving. It actually makes the surprise at the end of the issue feel very heartening.
It brought me a lot of joy, not only seeing an Asian American girl as the lead, but a whole Asian American family involved in the comic. Ricky plays a huge part in Zadie’s life, which is refreshing to see Asian siblings form a bond. I know the series was planned prior to the pandemic and the rise in Anti-Asian sentiment, but it’s being released at a time we need to see Asian Americans as part of everyday American society. Zadie may be teased as the ‘crazy’ kid who is scared of her own shadow, but it’s not surrounding her race. Instead, the character is a teenager just trying to survive getting out of the shadow of her brother and the shadows that are trying to kill her.
Fresh off his run on Captain Marvel, Garbett uses his expertise in creating Zadie and the shadows around her. Garbett does a beautiful job bringing the fear of the shadows, including added the facial elements to them to add some horror effect to it. Color artist Antonio Fabela should get a lot of props for his contribution. The looming effect of the ominous shadows around Zadie, even as she is just walking, gives us enough to know stuff is about to go down. Also, the luminous boards felt pretty powerful against the darkness.
Overall, I’m actually excited to read more of these series and enter into this shadow world. The characters are interesting enough to care about and invest in, especially Zadie and Ricky. I know this is only a comic book, but they really drew Ricky quite handsome enough to get my attention. While reading it, I understood how it has already been greenlit by Netflix to make this into a television series. It’s a story that many will watch for the supernatural, but stay for the familial relationships. If you’re thinking Supernatural mixed with Buffy and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, possibly. It’s only the first issue, but it’s very promising.
Shadecraft #1 is out on March 31. Get it here.