Shadoweyes Vol. 1

By Sophie Campbell
204 pages, black and white
Published by SLG Publishing

I should have guessed the second I heard about Shadoweyes that it would be anything but typical. Creator Sophie Campbell is probably best known for her graphic novel series Wet Moon, with its beautifully off-beat soap opera of characters and relationships. So while Shadoweyes is indeed Campbell’s take on a superhero, the end result is something far different than I suspect most people would be expecting.

What’s great about Shadoweyes is that it almost instantly zooms off in its own direction regardless of what Campbell is setting up. So while we meet Scout and Kyisha, they’re coming up with superhero names for Scout as they prepare to join the Crimewatch and help out in the streets of the run down futuristic city of Dranac. But after their first outing, Scout’s hit in the head with a brick, and suddenly finds herself able to transform into Shadoweyes, a large-headed, tailed creature that lurks in the dark. And then, things gleefully march off in their own, different direction.

Shadoweyes seems less concerned about being an actual superhero book but rather a character ensemble drama, with different interactions of characters and relationships to be had. After all, this is a comic where when Scout is up in the Shadowlair, some of her newspaper clippings include, "Shadoweyes Helps Child with Biology Homework" and "Shadoweyes Inspires New Fall Fashion." This isn’t a book about crime fighting, it’s about Scout dealing with the changes to her body and trying to tell her mother, Scout’s friendship with Kyisha, Sparkle’s innocence and general view of the world around her, and so on. (After all, this is a comic where the first time Scout uses her new form of Shadoweyes, it’s to break down an apartment door to rescue a wailing cat.) Shadoweyes is a book full of people that come in different shapes and sizes and sexualities, and all are done in a non-judgmental, that’s-how-they-are manner, and I love it.

It also helps that in many ways, Shadoweyes feels like a work in progress that unfolds before your eyes. Around the halfway point of the book, Scout’s abilities change somewhat, and along with that she starts finding a new purpose for her super powers. Likewise, an early set-up of the relationship between Scout and her mother is also quite different by the end of the book; this could simply be a matter of Campbell trying to show Scout evolving into her new status quo with time, or perhaps it’s Campbell figuring things out along with Scout, but either way it works. There’s a certain, "Hey, wouldn’t this be more interesting?" attitude to Shadoweyes which is not only inviting, but also keeps you as a reader guessing on what’s going to happen next.

Campbell’s art in Shadoweyes is as catchy as ever. Campbell’s always been great at drawing people who look like, well, real people. Everyone’s got different hair styles and clothing choices for instance, and body types run the gamut from skinny to round, from curvy to lumpy. This is the first time I think I’ve seen her tackle action sequences, though, and it turns out she’s good at that too. Sparkle’s abduction in particular is creepy as the girl erupts out of nowhere to tackle her, and there’s a driven look on the attacker’s face that makes you genuinely worry for Sparkle and if she’ll survive. Campbell is one of those great artists that just doesn’t get the attention she deserves, but it’s always a joy to see a new comic by her.

Shadoweyes is a fun book, one that grabbed my attention from start to finish. You don’t have to take my word on it, though; Campbell is also serializing the book online if you’d like to take a look before buying. With Shadoweyes Vol. 2: Shadoweyes in Love just around the corner, consider this a warning that now is a good time to jump on board. Shadoweyes is an odd little book, and I say that with great affection. Check it out.

Purchase Links: | Powell’s Books

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