Review: Black Market #1

The team of Frank J. Barbiere and Victor Santos intrigued me instantly. Barbiere is off of a decent run on The White Suits and Santos is coming off the phenomenal Furious. I was instantly interested in this series, but it didn’t hit its stride with this first issue. Since it’s a mini I’m not writing it off completely, but to be honest it was pretty average and played it safe for the most part. For the story I need you to think of a piece of string. Now cut the string in the middle and pick up the string from where it began and the second string from where you cut it. Think of this as two halves of the story and now interlace them together. Basically what I’m getting at is that the story starts in two points but it’s really the same time line, Barbiere is just bouncing back and forth until they meet up at the end and you understand the second part because you know understand the first. If that was confusing then you may get a little lost in the story because admittedly I did until I got to the ending.

The world is explained to us and it’s a decent take on the superhero world. First caped and costumed vigilantes hit the streets to clean up crime. They’re normal people just wanting to make a difference. Then supers arrive. These are being with real powers and they act like gods hovering over society.

In a burning apartment building a super goes in to save some people. On his second trip he’s drugged and taken out of the building. Our main character Ray is revealed as he carts the body out and meets two other men helping him with the drugged hero. From there we see Ray’s normal life as he works in a funeral home. After work he heads to a pharmacy and then eventually home. His wife is sick and something he did in his life has cost them their insurance and stability and now she’s most likely getting worse. After they’re discussion there’s a knock at the door and its Ray’s brother. He decks him instantly, but we just saw them working the superhero gig together.

The story is a bit predictable. The way it introduced the superheroes was interesting, but then it went into familiar territory with the criminal element. It’s crime fiction with a superhero twist which isn’t new. You have to bring something new to it though and for now I’m not seeing it.

BlackMarket01_CoverA copy 2Ray’s an idiot. It’s pretty clear that his brother and wife have slept together or will and his life is shit because he continues to do jobs that he knows are illegal. I have no sympathy for his character. I don’t think he’s painted as the good husband trying to do right, at least not enough for me to believe it. Instead he’s just an idiot.

The art is wonderful. Victor Santos has a different approach to Black Market than he did for Furious. It’s a good thing because he gives this world its own personality and vibe. I hope he doesn’t get pigeonholed into just working on super hero titles even if they are non-traditional ones. His character designs are the perfect fit for crime fiction.

I’ll have to see how the second issue turns out, but given how this issue ends it’s pretty predictable. Hopefully there’s a switch up somewhere because otherwise I’ll just be reading this series for the art.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Frank J. Barbiere Artist: Victor Santos Publisher: Boom Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/16/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital