At this point, when I see Greg Rucka’s name on a book it acts as a seal of quality, a clear sign that if I pick up this book there’s little chance I’ll regret it. With Black Magick #1, Rucka maintains his fantastic reputation with one of the most promising debuts I’ve read all year. This title follows Police Detective Rowan Black who has kept secret the fact that she is also a witch from all but her fellow practitioners. However, when a seemingly deranged man takes hostages at gunpoint in a local diner and demands to speak specifically with Detective Black, she discovers that somehow her secret is out and her life is now in danger. Rucka sets up an intriguing mystery with this opening issue, dropping hints as to who would want to see Black killed with a line referencing the purposefully vague ‘them’. Needless to say, Rucka is playing his cards close to the chest with this book but if this issue is anything to go by then the slow unravelling of this story will be an exciting ride indeed. Rucka has proven himself time and time again as capable of writing well-developed female characters – Rachel Cole-Alves in his recent Punisher run and Forever Carlyle in fellow Image title Lazarus immediately come to mind – and with Detective Black the prolific writer has done it again. In her first appearance, the supernatural dealings Black is involved in are juxtaposed with the day-to-day embarrassment of your cell phone ringing at an inappropriate time. This is an ingenious way to introduce the character, as it instantly allows us to relate to her in spite of the somewhat outlandish surroundings.
The fictional town of Portsmouth is stunningly depicted by Nicola Scott, whose painted black and white pages create an unsettling tone which suggests bad things are just round the corner. The use of color at only certain points in the story is an artistic decision many comics have taken in the past, but I haven’t seen it done this effectively in some time. This issue’s fiery finale looks truly phenomenal and contains one of the most impressive double-page spreads I’ve ever seen, a piece of work that manages to be eerie yet quite beautiful simultaneously.
And yet despite being very much entrenched in the supernatural, there’s an element of this book that feels very much grounded in reality. When this book was announced it was described as part supernatural drama, part police procedural and somehow Rucka does manage to juggle these two wildly different genres to great effect.
All things considered, Black Magick #1 is a huge success on every level. The story established in this first issue is intriguing and hooks you in with ease, while a brilliant new heroine is introduced in the form of the witty, intelligent and powerful Detective Black. Additionally, Scott’s artwork is truly astonishing and breathes life into the chilling world in which Black Magick is set. Just as he has done with the equally strong Image series Lazarus, Rucka has put a great amount of effort into building a history around this world and the characters that inhabit it. This much is evident at the back of the issue, where the story continues after the final panel in the form of letters, spells and other remnants of events that took place long before where this book picks up. Unsurprisingly, Black Magick is a book not to be missed and is hugely deserving of your time and money.
Black Magick #1 Writer: Greg Rucka Artist: Nicola Scott Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/28/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital