Shadow Service #1 Review: A Witchy Private Investigator

Shadow Service #1
7.5/10
Shadow Service #1 from Cavan Scott & Corin Howell, another win from Vault Comics, is a witchy take on the private investigator genre.

It's the year of the double S's in comics, with Shadow Service coming from Vault and Seven Secrets coming from BOOM! Studios not long after Sacred Six coming from Dynamite in what can only be interpreted as the comics industry's full-frontal attack on all readers with lisps. While the intent of this alliterative assault is unknown, we at Bleeding Cool are on the frontlines reading all of these Parsletongue-inspired titles. Shadow Service #1 from Vault is on deck now, from writer Cavan Scott, artist Corin Howell, colorist Triona Farrell, and letterer AndWorld. It's a comic about private investigator/witch Gina Meyers who wonders if her powers make her more of a monster than those she's hired to hunt.

Shadow Service #1 from Cavan Scott and Corin Howell. Credit: Vault Comics
Shadow Service #1 from Cavan Scott and Corin Howell. Credit: Vault Comics

Shadow Service #1 is a horror noir that feels halfway between the "I'm damned to be a private investigator, and here's why my life led me this way" style of Veronica Mars and the creepy, dripping, mysterious horror of Scott Snyder and Jock's Wytches. The mythology built by Cavan Scott is interesting, though it's Corin Howell and Triona Farrel's visual depiction of it that really sells the witchcraft here. The way an infected man's foot comes out as he attempts to escape a spell. The horrific scene of a man who gets bonded to the wall and the final claustrophobic splash page is stunning, creepy visuals that will stay with the reader after closing this first installment of Shadow Service.

Gina Meyers herself as a lead character is interesting. However, writer Cavan Scott has put her in such outwardly dramatic scenes, one after the other, that it's hard to get a sense of who she is without any quiet moments between the chaos. First, she's in a chase scene and gets a bar stool thrown at her head. Then, she pulls off some especially violet witchcraft with a nail gun, an inspired weapon of choice. Then, a flashback of childhood violence is followed directly by another chase and another witch on monster brawl. It was thrilling, but the pace may prevent readers from being invested in Gina as of yet. The best scenes are with Gina and her best friend, a rat, so with more of those quieter conversational pieces in future issues, Shadow Service should end up being another win from Vault Comics.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.