Shadow Service #4 Review: An Urban Fantasy With Creative Use Of Magic

Shadow Service #4
8.5/10
This urban fantasy comic from Vault fleshes out its supporting cast with an emotional (and disgusting) flashback.

Shadow Service has been an enjoyable read, delivering a monthly dose of a genre that is surprisingly rare in comics: the urban fantasy. Written by Cavan Scott, drawn by Corin Howell, colored by Triona Farrel, and lettered by AndWorld DesignShadow Service is a strong offering from Vault Comics that has the chops to be an ongoing series. Let's dive into this fourth issue, which follows up on an insane cliffhanger in Shadow Service #3 that saw the lead character Gina willingly get possessed by a demon to save a client.

Shadow Service #4 cover. Credit: Vault Comics
Shadow Service #4 cover. Credit: Vault Comics

With Shadow Service #4, Cavan Scott begins to flesh out the supporting characters. While still told through Gina's narration and keeping the ongoing magical mystery advancing, we learn about the surly Coyle's tragic past through emotional and… well, disgusting flashback scenes. Shadow Service has been very Gina-forward, with the protagonist's personality as the main attraction. That is common in urban fantasy and was pretty much expected. People love The Dresden Files because they love Harry Dresden, first and foremost. That remains true of Shadow Service, but the major focus of a supporting character, so early on and in the comparatively limited page count of a comic, was a welcome surprise.

One weakness about Shadow Service #4 is the overexaggerated facial expressions and body language in the human characters. This is most evident in the opening scene where Coyle's flashback seems like the artistic equivalent of over-acting. It doesn't take away that much, but Howell and Farrel's level of quality brings to the stunning scenes of monsters, magic, and demons do stand out consistently as better than their character work here.

Speaking of the magic, though. The way it works in Shadow Service is nuanced and creative and leads to a stunning scene at the end that is both intriguing and chilling to read. This series has done well with cliffhangers that leave readers wondering what could possibly happen next without making it feel forced, and it pulls it off again with this entertaining fourth issue.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.