For the last few years, Vault have certainly been living up to their name, providing comic fans one great comic series after another out of the ‘Vault’ of talent eager to work with them. This time it’s Cavan Scott, writer on some big properties like Doctor Who and Star Wars, who is joined by Corin Howell and Triona Farrell to offer us Shadow Service #1, about a woman who is equal parts Sabrina and Sam Spade.
Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Corin Howell (Art), Triona Farrell (Colours), Andworld Design (Letters)
Price: £3.99/$3.99 from ComiXology
Shadow Service tells the story of Gina Meyer, a fledgling Private Eye operating in the heart of London. However, many many other P.I.’s in town, Gina has something of an edge as not only is she walking the streets as an investigator, but she’s also a witch. However, when she takes a job from a local n’er do well called Quill to follow the son of a banker, Gina and her rodent sidekick Eddie find they have stumbled onto something far more sinister than they expected. Then, to make matters worse, Gina isn’t just the follower as someone in the shadows is tracking her.
Writer Cavan Scott has developed a unique concept with Shadow Service’s P.I./Witch combination and this opening issue provides the story with an interesting, albeit exposition heavy start. The main focus here is, naturally, the main character of Gina, who feels like Jessica Jones in a Black Magick-esque world. In fact, a number of Gina’s traits do seem reminiscent to comics most famous female P.I. – from traumatic origin story, to attitude towards her quarry and even her ‘signature’ ensemble. Gina is also implied to have an addiction of her own, with her magic use hinted at being the equivalent of caffeine (or something stronger) due to it’s insomnia inducing qualities.
That said, the character of Gina is no where near a carbon copy of JJ and is much more, as Scott imbues her with plenty of likeable personality traits to make her into her own person. From the flashback showing Gina’s protective side (to which I’m curious if that was her dad and if so what happened next?), her improvisational flair (such as the nail gun) and her rat helper, Eddie (which I wonder, is he a familiar or an associate whose been turned into a rat?). All of which tells me that Scott has the character well planned out in his head! The story itself feels a little slow in its momentum forward in this first issue, but Scott leaves plenty of questions open that intrigue me – for example, How does Gina know the right words to say at the right time? What is Quill’s game? And who are the people following Gina?
Meanwhile, the art is solid stuff by Corin Howell, whose pencils have a distinctly Matteo Scalara flair to them. This is especially the case in a later panel of the garage reveal which has a distinctly Black Science look about it. While describing work as ‘solid’ may not seem the most glowing of reviews, it is what is needed for the first half of the book as Howell gives it a decidedly grounded look, which he is then able to take to the next level right at the end when he depicts full on magical mayhem that Gina gets stuck in. And he manages this change of pace brilliantly.
Of course, the entire thing is helped to look its gorgeous best by Triona Farrell, whose bold, stand out colours really make an impression and give the issue a very Omni vibe of fantastical elements set within the mundane world. And then, finally, there is ‘Andworld Designs’ letters who not only deserve praise for a solid job, but go above and beyond by colouring the magical based dialogue to help give it that special vibe.
The first issue of Shadow Service is a very solid opening instalment which introduces us to the world, the characters and sets up the over arching story for the rest of the series really well. We’ll just have to see how it develops. If there is one thing which concerns me it’s that the series is going to immediately move away from the PI vibe and more to a BPRD style of comic. That said, what I’ve read of Cavan Scott’s tells me that I shouldn’t expect the obvious and with artwork a beautiful as this, coupled with the captivating premise and where it may lead, this might be a comic which is worth a look.