"I am the Lord of Deadside, Shadowborn at the confluence of
worlds to walk between.
Liveside is without the meaning that my partly
living possesses here in Deadside, where the darkness is manifest at
the edges of reason.
As a God, I step forth upon the writhing,
suppurating surface of the Deadside Serpent.
What sleep is here?
dreams there are in the unctuous coilings of the snake's mortal
Weapon in my hand, my hand, the arching deathblow at the End
of All Things.
I embrace it."
- Guy Miller, Deadside Dreams
- The first issue of the Shadowman comic book (which featured Jazz musician Jack Boniface as the titular hero, not Mike LeRoi) appeared in May 1992, published by Valiant Comics. However, Jack Boniface had previously appeared in another Valiant comic, X-O Manowar #4, although not as Shadowman. Acclaim Entertainment bought Valiant's entire catalog of comic book titles in 1996 for 65 million dollars. Shortly thereafter, Acclaim Comics relaunched the book, now spelled Shadow Man, in 1997. Jack Boniface was killed off and the series took a new, darker direction with the story focusing on Mike LeRoi (sometimes referred to as "Shadow Man II" in order to differentiate him from the first incarnation). After a number of years, with the company bleeding money due to its poor video game sales, Acclaim, preparing for bankruptcy, closed the doors of its' comics branch in 2002. Valiant Entertainment currently owns the rights to Shadowman. Shadowman was created by Jim Shooter and David Lapham.
- Before Acclaim shut down, it was rumored that they were very close to inking a deal with Miramax and DMX to make a live action Shadow Man movie.
- The first Shadow Man video game, which my figure is based on, was published in 1999 on the Nintendo 64, Sony Playstation, Sega Dreamcast, and Personal Computer (PC). In comparison, the sequel, Shadow Man: 2econd Coming, was released only for Sony's Playstation 2 console in 2002.
- In the game, Shadow Man/Mike LeRoi is voiced by Redd Pepper.
- The afterlife, "Deadside", as it is presented in the Shadow Man universe, is a bleak and unpleasant place. Everyone ends up there, regardless of whether they lived virtuously or sinfully in "Liveside"--there is no heaven or hell, as most religions teach, only the desolate and eternal limbo of Deadside. Rather depressing, no?
32-year-old Michael LeRoi had hoped to become a literary professor, but was not up to the rigors of academia. He flunked out of graduate school and foolishly spent the remainder of his college tuition on liquor, gambling, and women. Too ashamed to let his family know the truth, Mike took a job as a taxi driver to support himself, all the while maintaining the charade of being a college professor for the benefit of his loved ones. One fateful day, Mike gave a drug dealer--who was on his way to complete a transaction--a ride in his cab. The man met with his prospective clients, but the negotiations went poorly and the dealer received a bullet in the back of the head for his troubles. Terrified for his life, Mike fled the scene. After dumping the stiff and cleaning all evidence of the murder from his cab, Mike inspected the late drug dealer's duffel bag--inside was $20,000 in cash! Pocketing the money, LeRoi left town, hoping things would blow over. Back home, in New Orleans, Mike spent his new found wealth on a life-saving brain operation for his younger brother, Luke, and expensive gifts for his extended family. Unfortunately, the men who had killed Mike's last passenger turned out to be members of the mafia, and they soon put two and two together and came looking for him, and their missing twenty grand. Catching up with LeRoi, they repeatedly threatened to kill him and his family if he didn't produce the dough. Terrified, and unable to see any way out of his predicament (he couldn't go to the police after dumping the body, not reporting the crime, and keeping the money), Mike contacted a local Bokor (Voodoo Priest) for protection. The Bokor cast a protective spell on LeRoi, but Mike would soon come to learn that such things always come with a heavy price. Tired of Mike's stalling, his collectors decided to write the $20,000 off as a loss and balance the sheets with the LeRoi family's blood. While en route to a restaurant, an outing designed to celebrate Luke's release from the hospital, the mob performed a drive-by shooting while Mike's car idled at a stoplight. Both of Mike's parents, as well as his little brother, Luke, were instantly killed. Mike, while not slain outright, was gravely injured and fell into a deep coma for several years. Eventually, Mike regained consciousness, but suffered from severe amnesia and was unable to recall anything about his former life. At this time, the Bokor began to exert control over the confused man, making LeRoi his "zombie" slave--the secret price for his dubious protection spell. Renaming him "Zero", the Bokor utilized LeRoi as his private assassin. This went on for some time, until, one night, a Voodoo Priestess, Agnetta, more familiarly known as "Mama Nettie", stumbled into the Bokor's drinking establishment, the Wild At Heart. Seducing Zero and leading him into a back room, Agnetta used the opportunity, and the last vestiges of her power, to permanently implant the Mask of Shadows, the most powerful of all Voodoo artifacts, into Mike's chest. This transformed Mike into Shadow Man and freed him from the Bokor's control (although he would shortly learn that he had only exchanged masters, not gained true freedom). Killing the Bokor and taking his soul, the revitalized Agnetta passed the title of the Wild At Heart to Mike and also restored his memories (something Mike really wishes she hadn't done). Now, Mike spends his days bartending, and, at night, assumes the mantle of Shadow Man, the legendary Voodoo warrior and Liveside's (our world) only defense against Deadside (the afterlife).
At the beginning of human history, there were many Shadow Men, not just one. They originated in ancient Africa, where great warriors took up the mantle, protecting the inhabitants of Liveside from sporadic incursions by the dark denizens of Deadside. Unfortunately, in more recent times, slavery disrupted the practice and almost wiped it out entirely. In the 1800s, desperate to preserve the essential role of the Shadow Man, Mama Nettie created the Mask of Shadows and forged a deal with the New World gods, enabling her to channel the powers of all the previous Shadow Men into the mask. Henceforth, only the wearer of the mask would carry the title of Shadow Man, but that one bearer would be the most powerful Voodoo warrior the world had ever known. Maxim St. James was the first man to wear the artifact, then, Cole Cardineaux, followed by Jack Boniface, and now, Mike LeRoi. Unlike the others, who only wore the mask on their faces and had a choice in the matter, Mike's ribcage and the Mask have been knitted into one whole, against his will, permanently entwining the two.
In the video game, which takes place sometime after Mike first becomes Shadow Man, the plot revolves around an ancient prophecy of Armageddon. Legion, the biblical demon, is trying to collect the 120 Dark Souls--ancient immortal spirits representing almost infinite dark power. Legion wishes to implant these "soul worms" into giant, monstrous soldiers of his own design (Trueforms), in order to create an unstoppable army with which he'll invade and conquer Liveside, once and for all. To this end, he has erected a giant dark tower, the Asylum (built by the infamous Jack The Ripper), in Deadside, which serves as a horrific monument to depravity/insanity and an engine to facilitate the process of creating said army of immortal Dark Soul warriors. Tormented by dreams of this imminent danger to the world, Mama Nettie dispatches Mike to harvest these Dark Souls himself before the enemy can acquire them. Complicating matters further, five serial killers, in Liveside, have willingly had Dark Souls implanted inside them, in collaboration with Legion, making them immortal. The Five are preparing the way for Legion's invasion by opening and maintaining physical gates to Deadside. Shadow Man is the only entity capable of fighting these enemies in both planes of existence . . .
- Shadow Powers
The Mask of Shadows in infused with the sum total of all previous Shadow Men's capabilities, which it confers to the wearer. Its' power is such that, for all practical intents and purposes, the bearer is master over Deadside itself, as the Mask wearer is not bound by the rules/boundaries that the realm's other tortured denizens are restricted by (i.e., Mike can come, and go, from Deadside as he pleases). The Mask is also a very potent reservoir and channeler of Voodoo magic, allowing Mike to perform all sorts of mystical feats while in his Shadow Man form. He can, for example, power or animate various magical instruments/weapons that are all but useless in his human form's less-gifted hands. The Shadowgun is just a normal handgun in Mike's grip, but, in Shadow Man's, it becomes an unstoppable soul-cleaving weapon. Like the proverbial Reaper, Mike can claim the soul of any living, or unliving, thing with his Shadowgun.
- Limited Immortality
Much to Mike's dismay, in his current state, with the Mask of Shadows integrated into his body, he cannot truly die. If he's "killed" in the living world, Mike's body simply disappears and he then manifests as Shadow Man in Deadside, whole and uninjured. If he's "killed" in Deadside, he simply rises again (although usually in a different geographic spot then where he was struck down), intact. While he can be "slain", at worst, it's only a temporary setback (it still hurts though). While in his Shadow Man form, Mike does not need to eat, sleep, drink, or breathe, nor can a fall, no matter how great the height, injure him.
Using his departed brother's stuffed teddy bear as a focusing instrument, Mike can transport himself almost instantaneously to any location in Liveside or Deadside he's previously visited.
Mike can use both his left and right hands with equal skill, enabling him to manipulate two objects at once with great dexterity.
The Mask of Shadows does not work during the day in Liveside. Mike has no access to any of Shadow Man's powers/abilities, other than teleporting via Luke's bear, until night falls or he travels to Deadside.
- Tortured Soul
Mike harbors intense feelings of guilt over the deaths of his family, particularly his younger brother, Luke. In his own words:
"I got nothing left any ways, it's my
fault Luke's dead, and mom and pop too. I deserve everything I get,
every bad thing that comes my way. Can't live, can't die, Deadside's
the perfect hood for me, a nowhere place, the asshole of the Universe."
The unnatural powers that the Mask of Shadows imparts, as well as Nettie's control over Mike, prevent him from committing suicide to escape his troubles. Anyone privy to the knowledge of Mike's inner torment can manipulate him with relative ease by using his guilt as leverage.
- Slave To The Mask of Shadows/Mama Nettie
Unlike his predecessors, Mike has little control over his transformation into Shadow Man, as he cannot remove the Mask of Shadows from his chest, where Nettie embedded it (Voodoo magic is involved, so it's not as simple as just cutting/ripping it out). Because Mama Nettie created the Mask and was the one who fused it with Mike, he has to obey her commands, and must become Shadow Man when she orders him to do so. While she's not nearly as bad a master as the Bokor was, at times, she's not overly sympathetic to Mike's needs or wishes either. One of the tasks Mike must perform on a regular basis for his mistress is sex--this act imparts his Shadow Powers to her, allowing Mama Nettie to maintain her youthful form (despite looking to be in her 20s, Agnetta is actually over 400 years old).
Newsprint, tissue paper, white paper, a paper plate, cardboard, white glue, hot glue, paper clips, plastic, cotton, wire twist ties, ink, gloss nail polish, marker, and acrylic paint.
(*The dimensions for this model can vary, depending on how the joints are positioned. The numbers given are for the figure in a 'neutral' standing pose, without any accessories attached.)
6.7 cm/2.6 in. x 2.8 cm/1.1 in. (highest point x widest point)
Twenty-one points total: Neck (2), shoulders (2), elbows (4), wrists (2), thumbs (2), waist, hips (2), knees (4), and ankles (2).
Nine days; construction ran from 2/9/08-2/18/08, with no work performed on the 11th. The figure took two days to make (sans Mask of Shadows) and the accessories took seven days.
Handgun/Shadowgun: During the day, in Liveside, this weapon looks and functions like a normal handgun, with the exception of it never running out of bullets. However, when Mike changes into Shadow Man at night, or in the realm of Deadside, this weapon also transforms into the Shadowgun: An unearthly firearm that dispenses soul-stealing wraiths instead of bullets. As Mike collects Dark Souls, and his Shadow Powers increase, he can begin charging up these wraith shots, to make them stronger, before he fires them. This is the only weapon in Mike's arsenal that can separate an immortal Dark Soul from the person, creature, or vessel (Govi) that contains it--no other tool in his arsenal will do the job (he can, however, use another weapon to weaken them before using the Shadowgun to deliver the final blow). Nettie gives you this weapon at the beginning of the game in Bayou Paradise, Louisiana.
Shotgun: A standard, pump-action shotgun. This weapon only works in Liveside; it won't function in Deadside at all (unless you find and activate the "I Like Deadside Shotguns" cheat that is). Mike can potentially acquire two of these during his adventures--the first is in the Bayou Paradise, Louisiana, and the second is located at Gardelle County Jail, Texas. If you have one shotgun, you can carry a maximum of 50 shells, but, if you have both, you can double that and lug around 100 shells at a time.
MP-909: A rapid-fire submachine gun. This weapon only works in Liveside. It uses 9 mm rounds and Mike can carry a total of 400 rounds of this kind of ammunition. This gun can be found in Gardelle County Jail, Texas.
0.9 SMG: Another rapid-fire submachine gun which functions essentially the same as the MP-909 (I guess the developers probably included it so you can go "John Woo style" and run around with a submachine gun in both hands). This weapon only works in Liveside. It uses 9 mm rounds and Mike can carry a total of 400 rounds of this kind of ammunition. This gun can be found in Gardelle County Jail, Texas.
Asson: A sacred Voodoo rattle, created from the skull and vertebrae of a human skeleton. Mike can only use this item while he's Shadow Man, as it requires Voodoo power to operate. The Asson ejects flaming skull projectiles at Shadow Man's foes. Unlike many of Mike's other Voodoo weapons, it has no secondary function. It can be found in the Deadside Wastelands.
Baton: A short Voodoo "spear" (looks more like a sword to me). Mike can only use this item while he's Shadow Man, as it requires Voodoo power to operate. When used as a weapon, Mike jabs forward with it, releasing a plume of flame. The Baton can also be used for short, localized teleport hops between special altars (for example, in the Deadside Temple of Life, plunging the Baton into the altar near the entrance of the temple with teleport Mike to the Loa shrine where he can exchange Cadeaux for life bar extensions). It can be found in the Deadside Wastelands.
Flambeau: A magical Voodoo torch made from a skeletal hand and forearm. Mike can only use this item while he's Shadow Man, as it requires Voodoo power to operate. Take care to watch your Voodoo meter, as the Flambeau consumes power from the moment you take it out till you unequip it. When used as a weapon, it projects fireballs. In addition to using it to light up dark areas, the Flambeau can also burn through special walls, marked with a tell-tale flame symbol--these walls often conceal secret paths or Cadeaux. The Flambeau can be found behind a Shadow Power Level 5 Coffin Gate, near the Temple of Fire.
Marteau: A large jaw bone (probably from either a cow or horse). Mike can only use this item while he's Shadow Man, as it requires Voodoo power to operate. In battle, striking the Marteau upon the ground creates several streams of fire that can immolate enemies, but its' true purpose is for beating the various sets of drums strewn throughout Deadside--doing so will open the nearby rooms barred by three wooden beams. The Marteau can be found behind a Shadow Power Level 7 Coffin Gate, near the Deadside Temple of Prophecy.
Enseigne: A small shield made from stretched human skin. Mike can only use this item while he's Shadow Man, as it requires Voodoo power to operate. When activated, this shield projects an orange field of energy around Mike's body, protecting him from some enemy attacks--use it strategically, as it drains Voodoo power over time. The Enseigne can be found behind a Shadow Power Level 6 Coffin Gate, near the Deadside Wasteland.
Calabash: A small urn, made from a gourd, that contains incredibly deadly voodoo magic. When Mike tips the urn over, it spills a glowing fluid that will explode after a short time--that's your cue to get away from the imminent blast, as not even the Gads can protect Shadow Man from being incinerated. The explosion can be used to injure/destroy enemies, but, as it takes a while to detonate, you have to time it just right for the blast to be effective. It's primary use is for breaking special floors, which are marked with a distinctive pattern--these floors almost always conceal secret rooms and paths. The Calabash can be found just outside the Deadside Temple of Blood, behind a Shadow Power Level 8 Coffin Gate, high above the entrance (there's a path inside the temple that leads up to that area).
Flashlight: A standard, chemical-cell-powered flashlight. The batteries never run out in the game, so you can leave it on indefinitely. It only functions in Liveside (you can use the Flambeau to illuminate dark areas in the same fashion in Deadside, although it will consume Voodoo power while you do so). Mike can find it on the first floor of Mordant Street, Queens, New York, where it will be an invaluable, if not outright necessary, tool for negotiating the many rooms and halls of the gloomy, condemned building the serial killer Avery Marx has chosen as his lair. Gardelle County Jail, Texas and Bayou Paradise, Louisiana are fairly well lit, but you'll likely want to use it in Jack The Ripper's subterranean lair at Down Street Station, London as well. It's a good idea to use the first or second Retractor you find to open Avery Marx's schism in the Asylum Cathedral of Pain so you can acquire this useful item as soon as possible.
Prison Key Card: A plastic key card, still clutched, in a death grip, by the left hand of the last man to use it. Mike can use this to open the numerous locked doors throughout the jail complex--just swipe the card through one of the boxes mounted on the walls and the red "locked" lights will change to green "unlocked" lights. This item can (obviously) be found in the Gardelle County Jail, Texas (take the Batrachian schism to find it). Eventually, you'll be able to move freely back-and-forth from the Pike, Cruz, and Batrachian areas of the jail, something you can't initially do with all the locked doors in the way.
Violator: A hand-mounted, three-barreled, rapid-firing dealer of death. Unlike Mike's other firearms, this weapon was built and designed in the Deadside Asylum (presumably by Jack The Ripper). Mike will first come across this weapon locked inside a glass case inside the Asylum Playrooms--Shadow Man will have to acquire at least three Accumulators before he can unlock said case (there are also two smaller glass cases that contain Violator ammunition, each of these also requires one Accumulator to unlock). While these three containment systems can be opened in any order, it obviously makes more sense to get the weapon before the ammo, as the shots won't do you any good if you don't have the Violator to use them with. The Violator fires razor flechettes and can hold a maximum of 999 rounds. There are actually TWO Violators in Deadside, but the second can only be acquired if you have found all 120 Dark Souls (the Shadow Power Level 10 Coffin Gate leading to it can be found at the beginning of the Deadside Marrow Gate area, above the first Blood Falls). NOTE: The Playstation version of Shadow Man only has one of these devastating weapons; if you gain access to the Coffin Gate described above, you'll find a bonus book containing concept art instead of a second Violator.
Accumulator: Strangely shaped power cells that can be used in the Deadside Asylum Playrooms to unlock the Violator and ammunition for it. There are five of these, and they can only be found in Liveside (there are three of them in Gardelle County Jail, Texas, one in Mordant Street, Queens, New York, and the last is in Down Street Station, London--basically, the five Accumulators correspond to the five serial killers Mike is hunting).
Engineer's Key: A large, metal glove with a sharp, pointed key protruding from the "knuckles". This item will unlock many of the doors in the various sections of the Asylum--Mike won't get very far without it. The actual unlocking process is somewhat unusual in that it requires the wearer to bury his keyclad arm, almost up to the shoulder, inside the keyhole, in order to turn and align the tumblers. As he was the architect of Asylum, it's likely that Jack The Ripper designed this tool as well. The Engineer's Key can be found in the Deadside Asylum Gateway area, which is conveniently the first part of the Asylum Mike will visit on his journeys.
Luke's Teddy Bear: This tattered bear is the only physical reminder Mike has of his murdered younger brother, Luke, and, as such, it holds great power for one who can pass between the veils of life and death. It appears Mama Nettie also put some kind of Voodoo spell on it, to enhance its' effectiveness as a conduit, as the stuffed animal has several pins sticking out of its' chest. By concentrating on the bear, and thinking of a specific location, Mike can travel back-and-forth between important landmarks in both Liveside and Deadside, almost instantaneously--the only catch is that he has to have previously visited said locales in order to acquire the "memory" of it, and thus, the capacity to return there, via Luke's toy. Every time Mike uses the bear, Luke's ghostly voice can be heard calling, "Come on, Slowpoke!". Additionally, when Mike unlocks a new landmark, a ghostly image of the bear appears on the screen and his little brother calls out, "This way, Mikey!" Technically, all of this is psychological; Luke is dead and cannot speak to Michael--the memories and feelings he has for his younger brother are what makes it work. Unfortunately, Mike cannot voluntarily travel to, or from, Deadside without this plush animal (i.e., at the end of the game, Legion effectively traps Mike in Deadside by tricking him into giving the bear to him when he assumes Luke's shape and voice). Mike acquires this essential item at the beginning of the game, at the church in Bayou Paradise, Louisiana, when Nettie gives it to him.
Cadeaux: Crimson gourds, somewhat heart-like in appearance, that can be found scattered all over the place throughout Mike's adventures. These are ceremonial gifts for the Voodoo gods, the Loa. Some of them are sitting right out in the open, others are hidden inside crates, barrels, pots, or even submerged beneath water/blood/lava. For every 100 Cadeaux Mike finds, he can exchange them for one additional life bar at the Deadside Temple of Life. Mike starts out with 5 life units and can have a maximum of 10, which means you need to find a total of 500 Cadeaux if you desire to max out Mike's life bar--no small task. From my experience, playing through the game several times, there seems to be slightly more than 500 Cadeaux (I've finished up with over 500 of them twice, once with 502, and another time with a total of 503). You really have to explore every inch of Liveside and Deadside to find them all (it would have helped a great deal if the game developers had given a Cadeaux tally for each level, like they did with the Dark Souls, so that you could tell if you've found them all, or not, in a given area).
For comparison purposes, below are several images from the Nintendo 64 version of Shadow Man. The top photo depicts the package art from the N64 game (unfortunately the Mask of Shadows, on Shadow Man's chest, in the illustration is completely inaccurate in size/shape) and the three screenshots below it are from the back of the same box.
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