Joe Illidge, Executive Editor of Heavy Metal Magazine subtweeted out last week, and got a little attention, saying; "Imagine in 2021, a panel on Blackness in Comics, with a group of White men and no Black people. Now imagine a comic book like that."
What was Joe Illidge talking about? Well, he is also a former EIC of Valiant Entertainment. And he's talking about Shadowman.
Shadowman created by Jim Shooter, Steve Englehart, and Mike Manley in 1992 for Valiant Entertainment, was later reinvented by Garth Ennis and Ashley Wood after Acclaim Entertainment had bought the company, as Shadow Man, that version spinning off into video games, reinterpreted with voodoo mysticism as "Lord Of The Deadside" and played off New Oreleans/Creole culture.
Late last year, Joe Illidge blogged about comic book publishers supporting Black Lives Matter in their social media and how they followed up in practice.
In a move which effectively and further distinguishes them from the primary superhero publishers, Valiant Entertainment made no new announcements in 2020 of projects involving Black writers.
However, in October the company re-announced the upcoming return of their horror series "Shadowman". The titular character is a Black man with mystical powers who serves as the newest guardian between Earth and "The Deadside", an extradimensional realm full of demonic creatures and sorcerers.
Valiant's awareness of the cinematic horror genre business as dominated by producer/writer/director Jordan Peele of "Get Out", "The Twilight Zone", and "Lovecraft Country" is made clear through one of their cover variants for "Shadowman", an homage of the movie poster for "Us", a Peele film. Utilizing the imagery of Black horror for a book starring a Black lead makes sense from a marketing standpoint. Regardless of the absence of a Black writer for the series, Valiant Entertainment's "Shadowman" is being designed and positioned to attract consumers, including and especially Black consumers.
As a publisher proudly standing with Black people worldwide against systemic racism and proclaiming the truth of how much the lives of Black people matter, Valiant Entertainment's lack of announcements for new stories or projects with Black writers is seemingly paradoxical.
Valiant Entertainment, on the other hand, is a company with characters shy of being three decades old. A publisher operating in the superhero game alongside Marvel and DC Comics by primarily focusing on the production of White male hero ascendant stories. The risk of showing the comic book industry that Black writers are equal to their White peers, through hiring more Black writers, is relatively greater for Valiant.
That said, 2021 is a great opportunity for the publisher to embrace the courage their name exemplifies. The same courage they showed on June 1, 2020, when they made a public statement in support of Black lives and "against the injustices of systemic racism".
Joe Illidge's full column can be read here. After being delayed from last year, Shadow Man launches in April.
SHADOWMAN (2020) #1 CVR A DAVIS-HUNT (RES)
VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC
(W) Cullen Bunn (A/CA) Jon Davis-Hunt
From the bestselling master of horror Cullen Bunn (Venom) and bone-chilling artist Jon Davis-Hunt (Clean Room) comes a shocking supernatural odyssey.
Jack Boniface is SHADOWMAN, a powerful protector who keeps humanity safe from the demons that claw at the fabric of our reality. The forces of darkness are awakening and they are hungry for life. Will Shadowman be able to save us all, or will the darkness devour the world as we know it? In Shops: Apr 28, 2021 SRP: $3.99