Review – Black Market #1 (of 4) (BOOM! Studios)

BlackMarket01-CoverA-5bf9a - CopyPublisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
Artist: Victor Santos
Release Date: 16th July 2014


What’s your definition of the word?

When you begin to ponder this question, does your mind take you straight to the superheroes of your childhood that never truly leave you, or do you find yourself thinking about the everyday people who save lives and fight for our freedom? Well, taking into account the fact that superheroes don’t actually exist in our world, it’s perhaps not all that tough a question to answer, but what if there were superheroes? Imagine for a minute that you lived in a world dominated by Supers and the Villains they fight.  And imagine that in order for you, a non-super, to become a hero you had to become a Villain.

Black Market explores the possibility of this very thought. In a world dominated by heroes and villains, we are introduced quickly to one of these Supers, Hotspot. At first it appears that Hotspot, while trying to save people from a burning building, finds himself in need of being saved by a normal everyday firefighter and Ambulance crew. However, we rapidly discover that this crew is not exactly all it appears to be, bringing us face to face with our unlikely heroes – or are they Villains? Ray, a mortician, lives with his wife Shannon, who is battling MS, struggling to keep up with the increasing payments for her treatments. Ray gets an unexpected visitor from his past that talks him into the possibility of making money and possibly curing Shannon’s disease if he agrees to help apprehend Supers like Hotspot. What is it that the Supers have that can possibly cure disease, or more importantly, what is it that they don’t have?

It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows my reviews that I have nothing but praise for the writer of this new story. Frank J. Barbiere is a writer to watch based on his recent work for Image Comics (Five Ghosts) and Dark Horse (White Suits), both of which were fantastic stories that simply draw you in right from the beginning. Black Market is no different as Barbiere tackles the subject of normals becoming Heroes or Villains, and it really is left up to the reader to decide which label fits. That is one of the beautiful aspects of this story; it can be viewed either way. If, in order to save a life, you had to cause another life harm, does that make you a Hero or Villain? The story seems so far to boil down to that  question, but there’s definitely a lot more going on here than just that.

Barbiere has, in one issue, set up a story with complex yet simple subjects that will affect different readers in different ways, making this much more that just another typical superhero story on the racks of your local comic shop. Victor Santos’ style fits perfectly into the story as well. His work has an almost ‘pop art’ feel, with fairly simple but clear lines throughout. The images leap off the page with vibrant life and draw you into the story. The designs are also perfect for the characters created, making it easy to relate to the dilemma and choices that they are left to make.

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: Shane Hoffman (aka “Hoff”)
You can also find Hoff on Twitter.

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