Review – Black Market #2 (BOOM! Studios)

BlackMarket02_COVER-A - CopyPublisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer(s): Frank J. Barbiere
Artist(s): Victor Santos
Release Date: 20th August 2014

Are Heroes really Heroes, or are they sometimes more of a threat than a help? What about normal people like you and I? If we decide to take action when we believe it’s for a right and just cause, does it make us heroes, even if our actions are inherently wrong? These are some of the topics I feel make up the core of this story. Ray, our main character, has joined forces with his delinquent brother and former ‘non-super hero’ Bruiser in working for pharmaceutical company Biochem. Their job is to find “volunteer” Supers to donate blood for research that may lead to curing disease. As we find out in the first issue, Ray’s brother Denny has plans that stretch beyond just obtaining the blood of the Supers. This latest issue provides us with a little more backstory on how Denny and Ray got started and how they found Bruiser to help. It also gives some hints at Ray’s past life, and we find out from these hints that something by the name of ‘Ultra’ happened that changed his life for the worse.

Normally I have nothing bad to say about the writing prowess of Frank J. Barbiere, so for me this review is extremely out of the ordinary. However, as I started reading this issue I felt like somewhere I missed something. It opens up with a body on the table and Ray and another character doing an autopsy. The victim was a bank robber who had the unfortunate experience of having a Super punch a hole through his chest. The identity of this Super was not given, the importance of this scene was lost on me, and there was no connection to the rest of the issue or to the previous issue. It takes place before the events of both issues so my only guess is that it has something to do with Ray losing his first “good” job.

Next, we are shown another scene that happened before recent events and I felt like it wasn’t completely explained. The next sequences jump back to current events which I was back on track following along, then it quickly goes back a few months prior to the current events in order to develop how Bruiser came into the crew and details the first Super they ever tracked down – which is odd, because I previously felt Hotspot was the first. I didn’t mind this sequence, as I liked seeing the buildup of the background with Biochem and Denny and Ray, but I felt like this should’ve been in the first issue because – the way the story was built in the first issue – it seemed like Bruiser and Ray hadn’t met before the events that took place capturing Hotspot.

That said, the interesting thing with this sequence was the interaction between the housing tenants and Ray.  It seemed almost like reaffirmation for what he was now doing, as if now he could tell himself that his actions weren’t  truly wrong and instead actually made him a hero of sorts. So I guess my main gripe, without using all the words I just used, was that the timeline jumped around too much making it hard to stay on track with what was in the past and what was a continuation of the first issue. The story is still good, I still like the creative take on the dynamic between Hero and Villain, but I sadly found this to be a fairly confusing read overall.

Rating: 2/5


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

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