Image Comic’s Shadecraft is the tale of Zadie Lu, a teenaged girl learning to cope with some strange and unusual forces that have inexplicably come to life around her. Far from being part of the popular clique at school, Zadie finds herself either being picked on by some of the other kids or, more commonly, being completely avoided by them altogether.
Stuck trying to live up to her older brother Ricky’s perceived perfection and popularity, Zadie already felt as though she were in his shadow long before the car accident that left Ricky in a coma in a year ago. Now, she’s the little sister of the “coma kid” and no one knows what to say to her or how to act around her. To make matters worse, her mom has taken up the burden of caring for Ricky while he resides in a hospital bed in his bedroom, unresponsive and hooked up to machines. The task requires her mom’s constant attention as she works to keep Ricky clean and prevent his muscles from atrophying so that he can “come back to us when he’s ready”. This leaves little time for Zadie in her mom’s life.
Things get even more complicated for Zadie when she begins seeing sinister, supernatural shadows that reach out menacingly towards her and anyone near her. Feeling unable to confide in anyone about what she’s seeing lest they think she’s gone truly crazy, Zadie is left to try figure out what’s happening on her own.
After a particularly emotional fight with her mom one night, Zadie runs to the woods to get away. She finds a spot to sit under a tree and lets her emotions out, at first unaware of the indistinct shadows that are creeping towards her. It’s only when a human-shaped shadow jumps between Zadie and the encroaching shadows and prevents them from attacking her that Zadie realizes what almost happened. The human-shaped shadow turns to Zadie and tells her to run, and she doesn’t need to be told twice.
As she makes her mad escape through the dark woods, Zadie discovers that the human-shaped shadow is helping her, preventing the shadows from reaching her. Furthermore, the shadow knows her name, and Zadie can’t help but feel that something seems distinctly familiar about it, too.
The first issue of Shadecraft ends with a startling realization, and the surprises don’t stop there as Zadie delves into the shadow world that she’s found herself in. The first five-issue arc, which is all that writer Joe Henderson and artist Lee Garbett have been able to release so far, is a tale of self-discovery, overcoming your fears, and the importance of family.
Henderson is able to perfectly depict the many aspects of Zadie’s character so that she really comes to life and is someone that the reader finds themselves rooting for almost from page one. Furthermore, the tale builds suspense with unexpected turns and surprises throughout and the fifth issue has both a distinct ending, yet somehow also manages to leave you excited to read what happens next.
Garbett’s artistic style seems perfectly suited to Shadecraft. Zadie has a unique, pretty look and the shadows themselves look to be swirly watercolor perfection. His art is so great, in fact, that he got swooped up by Marvel to work on The Death of Doctor Strange which, unfortunately, means that Shadecraft will be on pause for now.
Still, Henderson, who is also the showrunner of Lucifer on Netflix, promises that Zadie’s tale isn’t over, and even teases that he’s working on adapting Shadecraft for a Netflix series! Also, the collected trade Shadecraft Vol. 1 is set to release on November 17th, where you can find all five comics in one place. And, until there’s more Shadecraft to read, you can also check out Henderson and Garbett’s other fantastic comic, Skyward.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.