I grew up with comics, and yet I understand that, for so many people, comics are a weird medium to get invested in. It feels like it’s a lot and yet not enough at the same time, and it takes a great team to truly convey both the visual essence of a character and the emotions behind it.
Shadecraft #1, which brings writer Joe Henderson and artist Lee Garbett together again, does that and more.
Zadie Lu is the heroine of Shadecraft, and she’s having a rough time. She’s a teenager, with all the issues that entails, her brother Ricky is in a coma, with all the baggage that entails, and oh yes, she’s got to contend with evil shadows too!
Ironically, though the shadows are real, and there’s a supernatural element to this story, the shadows are also metaphorical, Zadie Lu’s grief and anxiety pressing down on her, and if that’s not a relatable feeling – teenager or not – then I don’t know what is. Visually, the comic does a tremendous job at portraying this feeling, the sense of darkness pressing down on you, and even if we’ve never felt real shadows, that’s not easy to ignore.
Especially as it feels like the comic is taking you down a path of confronting your shadows, which is something we all need to do to move forward.
The first issue is mostly an introduction, into Zadie Lu’s world, her family, her brother Ricky, and her friends, but it feels like it’s more than that, it feels like an introduction to the kind of heroine we not only need, as they say, but want.
It feels particularly poignant to see an Asian-American family, and an Asian-American girl as the lead in this, in a moment in time where the Anti-Asian sentiment and the attacks on the Asian American community are in a crescendo. Zadie Lu is a normal girl, and that’s part of the appeal, to show a normal girl living through some very not-normal stuff. And yes, some people might think Zadie is off her rocker, but that’s mostly because of the shadows, not who she is.
No, Zadie is just an awkward, clumsy, relatable teenager who runs away from stuff she should probably confront, and who’s scared and sad and real. There’s something beautiful and interesting and profound in that, and I can’t wait to see where this is going, especially armed with the knowledge that I will get to see Zadie Lu’s journey on my TV screen sometime soon.
Don’t wait for that, though. The story might turn out to be amazing, and the writing in this is, but the visual aspect of this comic is worth appreciating, from the juxtaposition between color and shadow to the way you can feel the emotions of each character through their facial expressions.
I was hyped for this before I knew what it was about. Now? Now I’m invested. See you next time, Zadie Lu. I’ll be here.
Shadecraft #1 will be available tomorrow. You can get it here.