The Ninjabot

Comic Review: Shadow Walk

Posted on November 30, 2013 at 4:00 am by Tyler Waterman

shadowwalkcoverWritten By: Mark Waid

Pencils: Shane Davis

Inks: Mark Morales

Colors: Morry Hollowell

Letters: Jared K. Fletcher

Published By: Legendary

 Story By: Mark Waid, Max Brooks, Thomas Tull

 

 

Few can argue that the golden age for sci-fi action movies was the late 80’s/early 90’s. While special effects and movie budgets have grown exponentially since that time, films starring the likes of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Van Damme have a classic magic to them that you just don’t find in action movies today. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, those movies simply took a cool setting, assorted creatures, a crew of characters and a lot of guns, mixed them together and created a few hours of pure entertainment.

Find yourself agreeing with what I just said? Than you should definitely check out Shadow Walk.

The premise behind Shadow Walk is simple. Whether it was in church or from Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, you’ve heard the line “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” But what if that valley was a real place? And suppose the American government had reason to believe that buried in its depths was a renewable energy source that could eliminate dependence on oil? In the world of Shadow Walk, that’s exactly the case, and that’s where the story begins.

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“Oooh, the Valley of Death is so nice this time of year.”

Now, needless to say, the Valley of Death isn’t exactly welcoming to tourists looking to swing by and grab some energy sources. In fact, it’s actually filled to the brim with horrible creatures, dangerous fauna, treacherous and rapidly changing weather, and the bodies of everyone who’s ever dared enter the place. Everyone, that is, besides American soldier John Raines. Now, the one survivor of what may literally be Hell on Earth has been tasked with leading a team of civilians back into the Valley, in hopes that their special skills will enable them to recover this potential energy source.

From here, the story explodes into everything you want from that premise. Raines and the civilians enter the Valley under the protection of an elite black-ops squad complete with the prerequisite “giant rocket launcher guy” and “hi-tech ninja guy.” Everyone is clad in sleek climate-controlled infiltration suits, and everyone is toting intense futuristic guns designed by Raines. Each monster in the Valley is more disturbing than the last, and the terrain is littered with mutilated remains of those who came before them. If movies like Aliens or Starship Troopers have ever put a smile on your face, I can guarantee Shadow Walk has some smiles for you too. 

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That’s action star perfection right there.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying this story is generic. In fact, it’s anything but. In a genre filled with tropes, Shadow Walk remains consistently complimentary, and never derivative. While everything in this genre shares similarities, Shadow Walk definitely tells its own story, and never feels like it’s borrowing heavily from its predecessors. Of course, the imaginations behind that have a lot to do with this successful delivery. When Shadow Walk was described to me as “a story written by Mark Waid in a world built by Max Brooks,” my only question was “where do I sign up?”

While a great deal of credit goes to Waid and Brooks for an impressive bit of world-building, what really brings it to life is the outstanding art from Shane Davis (Superman: Earth One). Davis is asked to draw a wide variety of horrible scenes and terrible creatures, and he delivers in spades. These aren’t your standard monster or demon designs, either. Davis taps something reminiscent of Greg Capullo-era Spawn, and the designs both impress and convince me that Davis isn’t a guy I want to bump into in a dark alley.

shadowwalk.3

Why hello there, creature who will be in every nightmare I have for the rest of my life.

Another important point to be aware of in Shadow Walk is a serious religious element to the story. If you don’t like when your fiction mixes with religion, this book isn’t going to be for you. One of the characters is a priest (who essentially narrates the book as well), the team is equipped with a variety of religious artifacts, and the idea that the Valley of Death might just be a doorway to Hell is more than alluded to. That being said, it’s never heavy-handed. At no point is this book trying to persuade you towards a particular viewpoint, nor is it criticizing any belief either. Religion is a major factor in the story, but only as a storytelling and character-building tool; that’s not easy to achieve, and I appreciate the effort taken. Just be aware, if you’re not comfortable with the idea of a gun shooting shards of the Cross, you may want to stay away from this book.

Shadow Walk is a very easy graphic novel to recommend. Its audience is clear, its delivery is on point, and it entertains from beginning to end. The book itself is a gorgeous hardcover, fit for any shelf. What’s more, it’s a self-contained tale; there are no back-issues to track down or TV show to watch to get caught up, nor are there a dozen books to buy after reading this one. The next time you have the urge to sit down and watch a movie like Predator, pick up Shadow Walk instead; I suspect the itch will most definitely be scratched.

Shadow Walk is available now, in print and digital form. Head to the official site for links to purchase in any format.

Want to know how to win a free copy of Shadow Walk? Listen to the Geek Legacy Comic Corner Podcast this week for your chance to win! 

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