How the New Shadowman Retcons N64 Shadow Man’s Popular Protagonist

A promo image of Shadowman: Darque Legacy - Jack Boniface with demonic hands gripping his shoulders

Shadowman is one of the many popular heroes featured in publications by Valiant Entertainment. A supernatural character who thrives in the night, he’s one of the few truly paranormal elements in the otherwise science-fiction-based Valiant Universe. He has also employed his particular shade of black magic in the realm of video games before, and that spell is about to be cast again.

Shadowman: Darque Legacy is the first new game featuring the Valiant character in decades, though this isn’t exactly the same version that gamers once played as on the Nintendo 64. In fact, it would seem that the former iteration of Shadowman is being somewhat erased by the company. Here’s a look back at the “Shadow Man,” and how the newest game will feature someone else entirely.


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The First Two Shadow Man Games Had a Completely Different Hero

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The original Shadow Man (spelled with a space) game came out in 1999 on the Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation, and Microsoft Windows. The game was developed by Acclaim, who had previously acquired Valiant Comics in search of potential comic book properties to adapt into video games. To this end, Valiant’s books were rebooted and relaunched, with many of the characters radically changed to be more easily adapted. One of them was Shadow Man, who was quite a bit less “superheroic” than what had come before. Instead of the original Jack Boniface, this new Shadow Man was Michael LeRoi, who also looked quite different from his predecessor. Instead of the vague costume and skull face of Boniface, Michael LeRoi’s appearance was much more mundane, sporting street clothes and tattoos.

This influenced the stories as well, which took a darker and more horror-based turn than the Shadowman comic books of the classic Valiant Universe. This went for both the game and the late ’90s Acclaim comic books, with Garth Ennis (known for dark, mature-oriented comic books such as The Boys and Punisher MAX) writing some of them. This take on Shadow Man starred in two video games, with the first being remastered onto modern video game consoles in the early 2020s. Sadly, after they were initially released and Acclaim stopped publishing Valiant comic books, Michael LeRoi would take a trip to the Deadside by way of the worst kind of death: obscurity.

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The Newest Shadowman Video Game Does Away With the Classic Games’ Hero

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A shot of Jack Boniface's tattooed, noseless face in Shadowman: Darque Legacy

Developed by Blowfish Studios, the upcoming Shadowman: Darque Legacy will be an adventure game with lite-RPG elements. Focusing on Jack Boniface, the game will take players throughout the Liveside and the Deadside while encountering all manner of supernatural threats. The storyline is supposedly one made for the game, though going by the design, it’s clearly based more on the modern Valiant Entertainment version of Shadowman that was introduced in the 2012 reboot of the company’s comic book line. A new take on Jack Boniface, this iteration had a stronger focus on horror and the supernatural. Ironically, this was one of Michael LeRoi’s areas of expertise, and the new game completely glossing over him stands out because of it.

Michael LeRoi had only 36 appearances in the comic book medium, which wasn’t much considering the surrounding circumstances. Valiant had already lost a lot of market share and popularity before Acclaim took over, and the subsequent reboot that the company issued for the comic book line only served to anger and disappoint fans. It didn’t make much of a splash, eventually fading away with a whimper before being rebooted again over a decade later. Thus, it’s inarguable that the previous two Shadow Man games (which were quite popular) were the biggest spotlights that Michael LeRoi ever got.

Now, Jack Boniface is the one true Shadowman, with Valiant as a whole having almost discarded all elements of the Acclaim comics. Even the title of the game seems to reference Master Darque, the arch-enemy of Boniface. In the end, Shadowman: Darque Legacy could turn out to be a great game, but it’ll sadly come at the expense of the character with which a generation of gamers already associate the mantle.


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