Writer: Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurt
Artist: A. C. Zamudio
Colourist: Carlos N. Zamudio
Publisher: Oni Press
Shadow Roads #2 begins with Henry, Barry and Abigail in the Arizona desert, having escaped the attack on the train. Desperate for answers, Henry is introduced to the Buzzard Clan, and taken to see their chief. Henry asks his questions, but finds out that he himself, and not the dagger, is the source of the magic he witnessed earlier. Unfortunately, this magic attracts more of the demonic ‘hounds’ who seem intent on getting to Henry.
Meanwhile, Isabella and Chester begin their search for the monster known as the ‘Hunter’. Isabella reveals the horrific history she has with the creature, and how it has been dogging her ever since, pushing her towards another confrontation. As the sun sets, Isabella and Chester suddenly find themselves face to face with Anton Karloff of the Black Stars, who advise the duo that they are travelling in the wrong direction…
Shadow Roads #2 continues the story, picking up mere minutes later. Henry and Barry follow the surprisingly unflustered Abigail through the hot desert, where we learn that not only does she have considerable information about what is happening, including about the Hunter, but also used to be a soprano in a previous life. We learn the least about Abigail in this issue, which is faintly frustrating, but does serve to keep her enigmatic. Kalfu is not even present in this issue, apparently guarding the ‘Crossroads’. Henry and Barry are introduced to tribeswoman Unega, and after Barry makes a predictably awkward faux pas, they are taken to see Chief Buzzard Wife. Henry learns about the creature hunting them, and also about his own innate magical ability. This, unfortunately, is acting as the lure for the horrid hounds they have already encountered, and several more are on their way before Henry can learn how to use his magic properly.
Meanwhile, Isabella and Chester try pursue the monster themselves, although it seems that the advice Chester gets from the myriad ghosts around him is not always reliable. He also makes an interesting point about some creatures that were ‘born dead’ and are far more dangerous that ghosts. This is a nice addition to the lore, and expands the supernatural element. We also learn through Isabella that the ‘Hunter’ destroyed her village in its entirety, leaving her the only survivor, but it made her a promise to return one day. The pairing of Chester and Isabella is a good one, and even though this is very much an origin story discussion, the duo seem to bond well after sharing. The sudden introduction of the Black Stars comes a little out of left field, but a new faction may prove interesting in the long run. The writing is engaging in this issue, even if it is a little heavy on the backstory and exposition; hopefully the story becomes a little more balanced next time. The pace is certainly slower than the previous instalment, which gives us much needed time with the large cast of characters.
The art and colours from A. C. Zamudio and Carlos N. Zamudio respectively are good, again with dynamic colour schemes that vary depending on location and action, as well as some lovely lighting effects. The panels again vary in detail, but there are some striking set pieces in this issue, Isabella’s monster-filled village being the main one. There are also a lot of scenes involving character interactions, and the lettering here by Crank keeps dialogue flowing well. There are also some dramatic SFX during the monster attack that keeps the tension high. The cover for this issue continues the colour and art themes of this issue, showing the shadowy forms of the Buzzard Clan, a hesitant Henry watching on from a distance.
Shadow Roads #2 is slightly slower than the previous issue, giving us a chance to get to know some of the characters and their backstories. Although the large cast means that a few are missed out, and there is a fair bit of exposition, we do learn more about the supernatural lore at play, and further story threads are set up. Issue #3 should be very interesting!
Shadow Roads #2 is out now.