By Mike Badilla
Rise of the Black Flame #2 starts off on some crazy rollercoaster of which I can't even really say as to what is happening. We are in a German museum, and people are looking over all these relics of civilizations long past. We see a young man closely examine a picture, of which the picture talks to him, then they young man becomes an older grizzled man, then the face talks to him more, then he's flying through a void towards the face... then he is awoken by someone kicking him in the back. Our man, Farang, is awoken by the person that owns the house and told he has visitors. A man and a woman approach, and Farang recognize the woman as "Sarah," which appeared in issue 1. She pays the house owner to cover Farangs late rent and tells Farang that he is working for her now, which seems to upset him.
The man and Sarah discuss how she and those she employ go out into dangerous areas in search of things like blood cults and whatnot, even to the risk of her own life. Sarah explains that after what she has seen, nothing in the jungle can scare her. We jump ahead to a boat heading down a river deep in the jungle, the water teeming with threats. Farang is standing along the side, leaning over and watching the jungle while McAllister and Sarah discuss what time they expect to arrive at their destination, which is when it's revealed that Farang knows where to find this blood cult which is why he was brought along.
The group docks and heads through the thick jungle, Farang at the head of the group slashing away at overgrowth. They take a rest, and McAllister asks why they had to carry all their gear themselves instead of hiring some help for the journey, to which Farang replies that no one would take the job even though money was no object. Spooooooky.
Night falls, and we see our travelers have set up camp for the night. They are awakened from their tents and come rushing outside, guns in hand. A noise to which no-one can identify has come from the jungle, so they light lanterns and head to investigate. Farang warns against this and convinces them to wait until daylight, which they do. The next day they continue treading through the jungle, ever closer to their destination. After some discussion of what the noise was from the night before, they stumble upon a field covered in dead animals, although there seem to be no blood loss or puncture marks on any of them...
It seems as if this creative team has a good story brewing. I dinged the first book because, lets face it, sometimes the first book can be a little to preoccupied in story building to be entertaining, and that can really determine whether or not you, as a reader, will return for book two. I'm glad that I did.
The art is till very good. It just reminds me of an old book, somehow the art is so fitting for the story they are telling. The art is consistent throughout the book, nice details and colors fill every page and panel.
The story is getting better already. Yes, just like my last review, there are parts of this book that scream "you've read this story before", but there is enough new content to make me willing to keep going through the more cliché parts of the story to find what new and interesting parts await me. I've read enough books by Mike Mignola to know that they tend to be a slow burn, but a gratifying one.
I'm still not blown away by anything this book has to offer, but I will keep reading. I think that the writers have some more surprises awaiting.
Rise of the Black Flame #2
Writers: Mike Mignola & Chris Roberson
Artist: Christopher Mitten
Publisher: Dark Horse