When you need problems solved, and those problems require a bit of magic, look no further than the Shadow Service.

Gina Meyers is a London-based detective with a lot of secrets. While she tries her best to blend in, she often deploys a trump card she’s had since childhood: magic. Gina is a witch, and a decent detective at that. But while her sleuthing pays the bills, her snooping around off the clock might have landed her in big trouble. Will “Operation Gretel” be her undoing?

Cavan Scott, known for his entries in the comicbook worlds of Doctor Who and Star Wars, scribes Shadow Service, and effectively, too. The beginning of the book plays out like your run-of-the-mill, detective-tailing-someone story. And then a rat starts talking. And then an ankle rips off. Taboo diets are not left off the table. And that’s just a small bit of the weird we get.

Pacing-wise, it might not be the most exciting, action-packed first issue. Instead, the issue is carried by the slow drip of details that makes the issue crazier and crazier. In addition, we walk away from this book knowing exactly what we need to know about the characters in order to empathize and want to continue with the next issue. Where some might go exposition heavy, Scott uses a childhood flashback to introduce us to Gina’s magical secret. And, while we think we’ve got enough of a handle on our protagonist, the events happening around her are shrouded in mystery. Why was her mark at the beginning of the story being tortured by her employers? What is “Operation Gretel”?

Corin Howell’s art blends the noir and magic aspects of the book to near perfection. The horrified facial expressions, of which there are many, are on-point. The critical moment of the childhood flashback scene is haunting. One character is, more or less, a shape shifter, and the transformations that sometimes happen within the same panel are logically done and easy to follow. The gruesome scenes, while unsettling, are also hard to look away from. Triona Farrell’s colors complement the art to really set the mood. The purple hues of magic use, the sickly greens of a gym’s fluorescent lights, the dingy earth tones of a torture chamber … it all makes you feel like you’re there.

Shadow Service is a witch’s brew that blends a little Jessica Jones, a dash of Charmed, a pinch of Ratatouille, and leaves us with a cauldron full of a dark, weird, and wild story that is sure to have readers awaiting to see what the creative team conjures up for the next issue.

Shadow Service

8.8

Story keeps getting weirder

9.0/10

First issue introductions done right

9.0/10

Art and coloring makes the gruesome bits shine

8.5/10

Dang good cliff-hanger

8.5/10

Talking rat

9.0/10

Credits

  • Writer: Cavan Scott
  • Artist: Corin Howell
  • Colors: Triona Farrell
  • Letters: Andworld Design
  • Publisher: Vault Comics
Michael Farris Jr.
mokepf7@gmail.com
Michael is a Virginia-born Idaho convert and a huge fan of sci-fi. He took time off from comics and sci-fi during the dark years of being a teenager and trying to impress girls, but has since married an amazing woman with whom he regularly can geek out and be himself. He's also a drummer, loves metal music, and can always be found in a melancholy state while watching all things DC sports.

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