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[Interview] Peter Milligan Takes Over ‘Shadowman’ and Reveals New Horrors

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Bloody-Disgusting have been very vocal about our love of Valiant’s new incarnation of “Shadowman”. Valiant’s re-launch breathed new life into this classic ’90s character, and did a great job of establishing a new mythos, strong supporting cast and delivering some fast-paced action.

Valiant recently announced that writer Peter Milligan (“Hellblazer”) and artist Roberto De La Torre (“Daredevil”) will be taking over “Shadowman” as the new creative team with issue #13. Milligan is no stranger to the occult and the arcane arts having done a legendary run on “Hellblazer”, so he’ll find himself right at home here in the pages of “Shadowman” playing with the voodoo of New Orleans. De La Torre’s dark and gritty European style is perfectly suited to capture the unsettling elements of the story that Milligan is brewing. This is a match made in hell and it will be exciting to watch them dive into the “Shadowman” mythos.

Bloody-Disgusting jumped at the chance to talk with writer Peter Milligan about his take on “Shadowman” and where we can expect the series to head in the coming months. Milligan has some really interesting things planned for Jack Boniface and he is about to peel back the layers of his past, while shining a light on the horror aspects of the title.

Bloody-Disgusting: Tell us how you came to get involved with ‘Shadowman’ and what do you think got you the gig?

Peter Milligan: Warren Simons at Valiant asked me to write a short (I think 8 page) ‘Shadowman’ story. To do this I read all issues, and gave Warren my thoughts on the book and where it could go. Warren liked my ideas, we had a chat, and he asked if I’d be interested in writing the book. By now I was really intrigued by the book so jumped at the chance.

BD: Did you go back and take a look at any of the old ’90s Valiant books or were you focused on the groundwork that Justin Jordan has built?

PM: I have seen some of them – digging in the archaeology of the book as it were – but I took the groundwork that Justin did as my starting point.

BD: As a writer, how do you make the book accessible to new readers when this is issue #13 of the series?

PM: One of the good things about Jack Boniface – and to a degree Alyssa – is that they’re pretty new, or at least certainly aren’t in possession of all the facts, or at least are in a position where they’re potentially finding out new stuff about the world and their strange place in it. So in many ways we’re right with our hero in being confused or enlightened by what’s happening. And anyway, in comic book terms being only 13 issues into a series is really nothing.

BD: In the series so far, ‘Shadowman’ has really straddled the line between being a superhero and horror title. Where do you see the book and what are the aspects of a book like this that you saw appealing as a writer?

PM: First off, I see the book staying dark. And not afraid to get weird. There are superhuman elements in it, in that Jack sometimes morphs into this tough looking bastard wearing something that looks suspiciously like a costume, and when he does he sometimes beats up bad people. But that’s as far as it goes.

In truth it was the darker more horrific aspects of the book that appealed to me. But what makes it really interesting is that Jack isn’t your usual horror character. He’s not your normal superhero kind of character either. Jack is very nuanced. I think it’s difficult to answer if ‘Shadowman’ is (or will be) a force for good. There’s not a lot that is “black and white” about this book, especially for one shadows and shadowmen.

BD: In the eight page prelude to your run, you explored the idea that Jack’s upbringing in an orphanage has made him emotional and violent. How will his past and his inability to deal with those emotions factor into his role as ‘Shadowman’?

PM: This was really my way in to understanding and getting to know Jack. I felt that the way he’d been portrayed wasn’t the whole, or the whole true picture. I’ve known a few people who’ve gone through the ‘care” system, which can sometimes seem like a pretty ironic term for it. One thing I’ve noticed is that not many kids who come out of these systems come away untouched. I’m not say they’re all so damaged they can’t function but in my experience there is generally something there. I think the real strong or fortunate characters can sail through untroubled but most come away from some ghosts and demons they have to deal with for much of their lives. I see Jack as being in this latter category. And I see his relationship with ‘Shadowman’ and the Shadow Loa as a way of exploring this.

BD: How does Jack’s relationship with the Deadside come into play as the series progresses?

PM: I want to look at that whole Deadside thing again. Of course, it’s there, it’s always bubbling under the surface of the book. But we will learn new and troubling facts about it that will make Jack’s trips there a bigger deal.

BD: Master Darque has played a large part in the book so far with Justin Jordan exploring his origins. What role will he play in the book moving forward?

PM: Initially he won’t be playing quite such a huge role but I’m not throwing anything that’s good from the first 12 issues away. Darque is like a dark shadow lurking in the background but initially I want to explore other aspects of Jack’s life.

BD: Will the city of New Orleans play a larger part in the series as you delve deeper into your run?

PM: I think it’s already played a pretty large part. But if anything we’ll be even more aware of New Orleans. New Orleans and the spirit of voodoo that inhabits much of its past and of course pervades much of ‘Shadowman’’s history.

BD: Joining you on the book is artist Roberto de la Torre. What was it about his style that makes him perfect for this book? As a writer to you write things that play to Roberto’s artistic strengths?

PM: I didn’t really know much about his work but it’s clear he has a really expressive European style. I find this refreshing. It helps stamp this book even further as something different from most other things out there.

BD: Outside of ‘Shadowman’, what other books are you working on and what can you tell us about them?

PM: I can’t talk about a number of things right now but one thing I can talk about and am very excited about is TERMINAL HERO, for DYNAMITE. That series is being drawn by the very talented Piotr Kowalski.

  • BigJ

    Having read Shadowman #13X the 8-page pre-lude story that Milligan did I’m even more excited to read his upcoming run on this book.