5883 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Shadowman (original Valiant Comics 1990s)

Shadowman

(Jack Boniface) (1990s version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“Taking back the night.”


Context

Shadowman was one of the main characters of new super-hero comics publisher VALIANT, and launched along with the other books in 1992. The publisher’s corporate and financial tribulations were… chaotic, as with most comic book publishers until recent years. The comics thus didn’t last long.

This profile covers the VH1 version of Shadowman issues 0-28, and takes the events of Rai #0 as canon. Later events, relaunches, etc. are out of scope for this article.

Steve Englehart, Shadowman’s creator, wasn’t entirely satisfied and later created a very similar character, Night Man, to get it right this time.


Advertisement


Background

  • Real Name: Jack Dominique Boniface.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Josiah Boniface (father, deceased), Sarah Boniface (mother, deceased), Zach Boniface (foster father).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: The French Quarter, Louisiana, New Orleans, USA.
  • Height: 6’0” Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers & Abilities

Strength Level

When the last rays of sunlight fade from the sky, Jack’s strength increases substantially and becomes superhuman. Though the upper limits of his supernatural strength are currently unknown, it is clear that he can lift weights far in excess of 500lbs directly overhead.

During the day, Jack Boniface possesses the normal human strength of an adult male who engages in regular exercise.

Known Superhuman Powers, part 1

Jack Boniface has been infused with a form of necromantic energy, colloquially named the Darque Power. It fuels his superhuman abilities. When the Darque power fills his body, all of Jack’s physical attributes are enhanced, granting him supernatural strength and endurance.


Advertisement


His raw speed and reaction time are also heightened at night, though not to superhuman levels.

The necromantic energy which suffuses his form constantly reinforces and rebuilds Jack’s body. This makes him virtually immortal during the night. His body can recover from grievous injuries as severe as third degree burns, 3 foot long lengths of pipe stabbed through his chest and heart, or bullet wounds at a highly increased rate.

In addition, this hardiness allows him to ignore painful (and potentially fatal) wounds and to continue to function normally, until his body can recover from the damage.

Known Superhuman Powers, part 2

Over time, Jack’s familiarity with the application and manipulation of his own necromantic energy has grown. He learned how to manipulate it for other applications outside of the pure physical enhancements it affords him.

He has learned how to sense its presence at a distance, and use its power to reduce gravity’s pull on his body while he falls (effectively granting him the ability to glide).

While it isn’t truly a separate power or ability, Jack possesses unusually keen night sight. He requires very little (if any) light to be able to see in the dark. One can only assume that this ability, along with his unusual comfort with darkness, is a side effect of his transformation into a Shadowman.

Abilities

Jack is an unusually talented saxophone player. His skill at improvisational play is extraordinary and has swayed the emotions of entire crowds.

When Shadowman is ascendent, Jack becomes a surprisingly effective (yet clearly amateurish) melee fighter. In combat, his movements are so foreign and frantic that even the best trained hand to hand fighters have often found themselves stymied by the unpredictable nature of his style.

Limitations

As a result of the machinations of Master Darque, Jack was infected by a Spider-Alien virus. It hampers his ability to absorb and manipulate the necromantic energy that fuels his supernatural abilities.

Because of this, Jack can only access his powers during the night or within areas of intense darkness. He is subject to all manner of human vulnerabilities during the day.


History

In the late 19th century, a group of talented warlocks and witches formed a Coven. Their goal was to combat the threat posed by a malevolent necromancer named Master Darque. But despite their resolve, they feared the reprisal if they failed to end the threat of the powerful young warlock.

As a solution, they decided to create a weapon that they could use to battle Darque in their stead. To this end, the Coven infused a young gambler named Maxim James with a large portion of their combined necromantic might. They transformed him into a being they called the Shadowman.

Unfortunately, the Coven overestimated young Maxim’s sense of duty and underestimated his strength of will. Immediately following a particularly intense confrontation with Darque and his sister, Maxim vanished into the darkness of the night. He abandoned the Coven and left them alone and vulnerable to Darque’s tender mercy.

Down but not out

The Coven dispersed for the better part of one hundred years. But they finally reassembled when Master Darque and his sister emerged from hiding within the French Quarter in the early 1990s.

Driven to action, the Coven decided to once again create a “Shadowman” to combat Darque. But this time they decided to choose a more malleable individual and grant him their power over time. They hoped that by gradually increasing his strength over time, they could guide his transformation and direct his focus towards Darque.

Darque, however, had other plans. Through some unknown means, Darque discovered the Coven’s plans to create yet another Shadowman. He also determined the identity of their chosen warrior; a young jazz player named Jack Boniface.

In the attempts to hamper their efforts, Darque called in a marker owed to him by Lydia. Lydia was a member of the race of Spider-Aliens who were marooned on the Earth by man-god Solar.

Jack in the Box

Jack first spoke to Lydia in March of 1992. He had just finished his set at the Là Bas Jazz Club in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Jack was irresistibly drawn to her exotic good looks, and after screwing up his courage, decided to take a chance and approach her.

Lydia seemed happy to return his attention. After flirting for a while, the two decided to leave the club and return to her hotel room.

Shadowman (Jack Boniface) vs. Clemenceau

It didn’t take long for one thing to lead to another. Before he knew it, Jack found himself disrobed and in bed with Lydia. He had had a lot to drink, and for some reason had a hard time focusing on what was occurring. It thus took time for him to notice that Lydia looked… different… now that they were alone.

He watched as she straddled his waist and as she leaned in close her visage transformed into something monstrous. Helpless and reeling, Jack could only watch as she bit into his neck and a sharp hot poker of pain shot through his neck. Even as he lost consciousness, the room lit up in a sudden flare of light before all went dark.

The morning after

Jack awoke the next morning alone in Lydia’s room, surprised to be alive. He decided to leave. But before he did he took a precursory look around her apartment. In so doing, he discovered that he hadn’t been her first victim.

Bewildered and feeling… strange… he left the apartment without incident and wandered the streets of the quarter. As night fell, he stumbled across an ordinary seeming carnival mask that had been seemingly cast away once its usefulness had ended.

Jack rationalised this by reasoning that demons like Lydia (after all, what else could she be) would not be able to find or harm him, if they didn’t know what he looked like. As he continued his wandering, fate played its hand once more, and he interrupted a murder in progress.

The calling

Jack paused for a single moment, as he tried to fight the strange urge to intervene. The undefinable compulsion won out despite his best efforts. As he lunged towards the killer he donned the carnival mask. The two struggled briefly, but Jack got the upper hand and drove the man away, but not before he had finished his grisly work.

Jack spent the next week seeing doctors, and skipping work. He tried to puzzle out the events of the previous week. As the days passed, he slowly seemed to develop an aversion to sunlight and was growing angrier at the injustice of the world about him.

He began to take long walks at night, much to the pleasure of his housekeeper Anjenetta. He always took the mask along with him. On one of his walks, Jack encountered two thugs mugging an elderly man.

Shadowman

Before he knew what he was doing, Jack burst out of the shadows and assaulted the two men in a flurry of motion. He was rewarded with a rush of adrenalin and hormones as he disappeared back into the shadows he emerged from.

From that night forward, Jack understood his calling. He would cleanse the night of the evil that hid within its darkness. He would make the night his own and make those who committed evil within it pay.

To Jack’s surprise, Anjenetta understood his calling and even encouraged him. She had a costume created for him that he could wear on his nightly excursions. She started to teach him about the Loa and the spirits of the night.

All the while, Jack continued to play the role of a musician during the day. And he roamed the streets of the Big Easy throughout the night looking for trouble.

Unity, part 1

During this formative time, Jack encountered and dealt with several murderers and members of the drug dealing community. He even ran into a Harbinger (mutant) or two.

Nearly a month had passed since he first donned his mask, when Jack was approached by Nettie and a mysterious man named N’dour. N’dour had the unusual gift of “hearing” the whispers of the Earth itself.

The whispers had warned N’dour of the coming of a “demon” so powerful that it would bring all things to an end. And that only the presence of the Shadowman could help prevent it. N’dour and Nettie took Jack into the bayou in search of a portal that would lead Jack to the demon.

Jack initially balked at the idea, calling it ridiculous and improbable. But then night fell, and Shadowman could not resist the idea of confronting such a demon in his night.

Unity, part 2

Shadowman entered the portal, located underneath an ancient tree in the swampy waters of the bayou. He emerged from a fountain deep within the lost land. He was in the middle of a pitched battle between colourfully garbed men who wielded immense superhuman abilities, and all manner of creatures from robots to true to life dinosaurs.

Confusion wracked Jack’s mind. He thus took a second to realize that he was standing in daylight. And in the light of the day, Shadowman had retreated into the dark corners of his mind.

Jack only had a moment to consider what was going on before he was spurned into action by falling debris and an innocent life. Jack burst into motion and saved the life of a fallen soldier. In doing so met the single most important woman in his life; Elya.

Elya was a soldier from the future, who had been drawn into the vast conflagration that surrounded the two. She fought for one Erica Pierce, who was attempting to do the impossible.

Grateful for Jack’s involvement, Elya acquiesced to Jack’s request. They followed a brightly garbed glowing man who seemed to be the spearhead of the superhuman assault.

Unity, part 3

The red-garbed man entered a massive rainbow coloured tower. While he caused untold destruction within, Jack stalked through the carnage he left behind and back into his darkness.

Jack made quick work of both the soldiers and dinosaurs that attempted to stop his advance. He then came to a central chamber where he found the red garbed man in a pitched battle with a strangely-clad woman.

Jack immediately recognized the two possessed powers far beyond the mortal ken, going so far as the call them gods. But when he saw the red garbed man murdering the woman something inside him spurred him into action.

Jack, tapping deeply into craziness and insanity that hid in the dark recesses of his mind, charged from his place of hiding. He attacked the red-garbed man. He struck him again and again, even while the energy that the red-garbed man was radiating burnt him to the bone.

Finally the pain claimed him, and before he knew if he had saved the stranger, he lost consciousness.

Unity Day 60

Jack emerged from the darkness a full two months later. He discovered that due to his actions, the woman he had rushed to defend (Erica Pierce) had defeated the man-god Solar (the red garbed man). In her gratitude, Erica had made a place for Jack amongst her people and had “given” him to Elya.

Jack still had a long road to recovery. It took him nearly another 40 days to regain his full strength. During this time, Elya rarely left his side. Predictably the two fell deeply in love and eventually began a passionate affair.

Shadowman (Jack Boniface) vs. Archer

Jack enquired often about Elya’s time and her relationship with Erica. Over time, she revealed more and more to him. She explained that Erica was a god-like being who gained her powers in the distant past during the same accident that created Solar, the Man of the Atom.

She also told Jack that the Lost Land was located in a pocket dimension where all time intersected. Thus, Mr. Boniface was originally from her distant past. Most shockingly, she told him of his future as a successful musician and an incredible hero… and that he would die a horrible and grisly death in the year 1999.

Fated

Despite his shock at her revelation, Jack realized that as long as they were in the lost land none of what was written in her history books could come to past. Instead of brooding over the information, he simply lost himself in the romance of their affair.

Alas, this all came to an end. Jack eventually discovered the full extent of Erica’s plans and that she was the “demon” he had been sent to stop.

Erica planned on channelling her full power through a unique reactor that she had constructed within the Lost Land. Her goal was to recreate the accident that empowered both Solar and her in the first place. It would literally destroy and rewrite all of reality.

With this new information at hand, Jack changed his allegiance and turned on his benefactors. Rather than fighting alongside Erica’s forces, he abandoned them to their fate. Instead, he attempted to escape the Lost Land with Elya in tow.

He returned to the very same fountain that he emerged from nearly six months prior. The two entered the fountain and swam desperately through its dark waters.

Unfortunately, the two were separated in the dark. Only Jack emerged into the night air in 1992. To his shock, while he had lived six months in the Lost Land, only seconds had passed in the present.

Darque-ness Falls

Heartbroken at Elya’s loss, Jack fell back into his old habits. He went back to playing his sax and fighting crime at night. What he didn’t realize was that he was being observed and stalked by Master Darque.

The two had several encounters, each trying to gain the measure of one another. Jack’s adventures went from the mundane to the downright insane due to Darque’s influence. He went on yet another cross-time adventure where he bounced from the recent past (where he met and battled Maxim St. James) to the distant future where he encountered Elya once more.

It was during this time that Anjenetta revealed her true purpose to Jack. She was secretly a member of the Coven that had empowered him. From the moment he had donned the mask, she had quietly guided his adventures.

With Anjenetta’s revelation, Jack suddenly found himself with a tutor in the manipulation of the necromantic energy that filled his body. As he learned more and more, Jack became proficient in the use of his abilities. More importantly, he grew powerful enough to became a viable threat to Master Darque.

He also gained a pair of unlikely allies in Archer & Armstrong. He even encountered Maxim St. James – who through an unlikely series of events had regained his youth.

Though the exact details have yet to be revealed, Jack and Master Darque eventually had a final fateful confrontation in the year 1999. At the end of the confrontation, both Jack and Master Darque were dead. The Darque power was eradicated from the Earth once and for all.

Jack was forever remembered by the heroes of the Earth as a stalwart champion for the weak. His legend was repeated and recorded for centuries to come.


Description

At first glance, it is easy to see that Jack’s ethnic heritage was Creole. His skin was a deep brown, and he wore his long curly locks pulled back into a controlled pony-tail.

He was in fine shape. His body was long and lean, with exceptional muscle development. He was a handsome man, but his face was often drawn with concern during the day.

At night though, Jack completely transformed. When Shadowman was ascendent, his face became completely animated. It was often stretched into a manic grin or expression of rage. Unlike Jack, Shadowman let his hair hang in long uncontrolled locks that reached just below his shoulders.

Costume

Shadowman’s initial costume was a simple blue deep blue body stocking. It covered him from head to toe. In the centre of the chest, a clever black and white sigil was inscribed that depicted a man standing in a doorway and casting a long shadow.

To complete the costume, Jack wore a simple blue Mardi Gras  mask that covered his entire face with the exception of his mouth and lower jaw.

After his original costume was destroyed in a confrontation with Solar, Shadowman took to wearing black leather pants, with motorcycle boots and dark leather gloves to cover his hands.

He finished his costume with a tight black tank-top emblazoned with the same sigil on its chest, a thick leather jacket and of course his “shadow” mask.


Personality

At his core, Jack was an artist and a good man who wanted to help the people around him. He loved life within the French Quarter, and hated any individual who would take advantage of those who were weaker than them.

He could often be driven into action when he witnessed injustice. That was despite the fact that he may not have any direct power or ability to make a true difference at the time.

Jack believed that he could reach out to those who surround him through his music. He attempted to do so at any opportunity he had. He was a carefree spirit, who eventually realized that material possessions, money or status mattered little.

He was able to find contentment no matter what his circumstances were, whether he was living in the lap of luxury or on the streets. As long as he had food in his belly, and could play his sax, he was happy.

Ridden

When the Loa filled Jack though, his inner demon was released. This allowed Shadowman to come to the fore. Shadowman was everything that Jack was but dialled up to 11 and doused in battery acid.

Shadowman was fearless and an action junkie. He truly loved life and embraced it fully, without regret or pause. If it felt good, he did it. He was sex, violence and rock & roll mixed with smooth jazz. He had a mercurial nature that couldn’t be easily quantified. He would enter a room like a gust of wind and then explode like a firecracker on the way out.

Shadowman claimed the night as his own, and hated any being that befouled it. He prowled the darkness like a hunting panther, and would strike without mercy at any being that he feels was in the wrong, from the average street punk to Solar.

Committed

He wouldn’t ever give up or surrender. Pain and suffering were like old friends to him, he embraced them without fear or apprehension. Shadowman had a distinct dislike of drug dealers and the people that supplied them. He would go to great lengths to “motivate” them to leave the French Quarter.

Initially, Shadowman and Jack were two distinct personalities within Jack’s head. But over time the line blurred to the point where they saw themselves as a single being.

In that moment of understanding, traits from both of entities began to often manifest in the other. The line between became blurred enough that Jack’s fractured psyche became whole once more.

From that point, he saw himself only as Shadowman, with an understanding that the wildness of Loa would drive him with a maniac haste when the night fell. And he absolutely LOVED it.


Quotes

(While confronting a murderer) “Bigger than me… two knives… so what ? I should be scared… but I’m more than cool. I’m as cold as Northampton.”

(Regarding criminals in general) “Others to hunt down. Others to cast out of the night. MY night.”

“I just feel more comfortable in the dark.”

(While shoving an abusive husband’s head into a stove top element)
Ferry: “Whoa ! Who are you ? How’d you get in here ? What do you want ?”
Shadowman: “To make the world suit me… to destroy the demons !”
Ferry: “Who are you ? Why are you wearing a mask ?”
Shadowman: “So the demons can’t find me !”
Ferry: “Oww ! You’re crazy !”
Shadowman: “Only at night.”
Ferry: “AHHHH !”

(Thinking to himself while fighting Archer, the greatest martial artist alive) “He’s a kung-fu guy, and quick as a cat. Try to fight smart, he’ll dismantle me. Flow, don’t think — fight weird, spontaneously, unpredictable. It’s all JAZZ, and I can play.”

(While attacking a drug dealer in the middle of a crowded restaurant)
Shadowman: “You’re scum ! Filthy drug dealing scum !”
Dealer: “P-please mister !”
Shadowman: “You foul the night — MY night !”
Dealer: “For pity’s sake, stop !”
Shadowman: “Pity ? You sold crack to school kids ! Kids are dying because of you and your friends — no more ! I’m going to teach you to be afraid of the dark !”
Bystander: “Please mister, don’t hurt us.”
Shadowman: “Don’t worry lady, I’m not a terrorist, I’m the King of Shadows !”

“I’m in control of this. I’m in control of Shadowman — of the Shadows — I control the shadows.”

(After getting struck across the face with a shovel) “That was very good — I felt that — and I like it. Please may I have another ?”

(While gaining momentum fighting a zombie) “Oh, everybody talkin’ ’bout the seventh son… in the whole wide world there is only one. Yeah, he’s the one… he’s the one they call the seventh son ! He can heal the sick ! He can raise the dead… he can make the little girls talk outta their heads…”

(While falling into a rage) “Someone’s shooting me ! Some sorry FOOLS are SHOOTING me !”

“I could help him out or go after the guys in the truck. Archer can take care of himself… and there are at least seven guys in the truck. I want them ALL !”

“You drove a pipe through my bleeding heart ! You think three scalpels are going to do anything ?”


DC Universe History

Shadowman’s history can be dropped wholesale into the DC Universe, particularly with their lack of development of the French Quarter.

In DCNu, he could have had several encounters with Voodoo. In this case, replace the Spider-Aliens with the Daemonites. He could even have had dealings with Batman, either directly in Gotham or as one of his agents (or threats to one) in Batman Inc.


Sharing



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Shadowman

Dex: 07 Str: 06 Bod: 06 Motivation: Unwanted Power (day), Thrill of Adventure (night)
Int: 04 Wil: 07 Min: 06 Occupation: Jazz Musician
Inf: 05 Aur: 07 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 019 HP: 045

Powers:
Detect (Necromantic Energy) (ML): 04, Gliding (ML): 01, Invulnerability (ML): 08, Jumping (ML): 02, Mind Over Matter (ML): 08, Regeneration (ML): 10, Running: 05, Ultra-Vision (ML): 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
Ultra-Vision has the Light Amplification Only limitation (-5BC).

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing, Dodging)*: 07, Artist (Saxophone): 08, Martial Artist: 03, Thief (Stealth)*: 07

Advantages
Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Manic Pace, Unpredictable Style).

Connections:
Anjenetta Grampion (High), Aram Armstrong (High), Archer (High).

Drawbacks:
Enemy (Master Darque), MIA (Areas of darkness), MIA (wearing Shadowman mask at night), Power Loss Vulnerability (Daytime, All Powers and Advantages are removed and his Physical Stats reduced by 4 APs), CIA (“Cleansing” the Night), SPI (Manic, only at night).

Genre:
Near Real.

Equipment:

  • Shadowman Mask [BODY 02].
  • Saxophone [BODY 02].

By Bryan Gittens.

Source of Character: Valiant Comic Series – Shadowman, created by Jim Shooter (author), Steve Englehart (author), and David Lapham (illustrator).

Writeup completed on the 4th of April, 2013.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .