Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Nicola Scott
Release Date: 27th April 2016
Greg Rucka’s latest creation is another fantastically compelling female protagonist in the lineage of Tara Chase, Carrie Stetko and Forever Carlyle. He’s a writer whose involvement on any comic has always piqued my interest – I can say without any qualms that Queen & Country is a masterpiece – and Black Magick is already shaping up to be an essential title to add to his roster.
Black Magick is a gothic-noir police procedural with occult overtones centered on Rowan Black, Portland police detective and practicing witch. A recent hostage situation gone awry brings these two parts of her life crashing together, raising questions about her past and bringing her to the attention of sinister forces both human and otherwise.
His warm, earthy dialogue is rooted in the mundane realities of modern life but his detailed research imbues his prose with real quality, believability and narrative thrust. Yet again it’s his skill for world-building and his complex, flawed-yet-likeable characters that really shines through and offers further proof that he’s one of modern comics most compelling writers.
Here he only offers tantalising clues as to what the bigger picture is, mainly through the addition of various background materials involving the diary of Gilles Robert du Pont-L’Évêque and references to Heinrich Kramer’s notorious Hammer Of The Witches.
These help to anchor the story in the rich tradition of supernatural Americana and are a wonderful addition that enrich the read enormously.
But now we move on to Nicola Scott’s art. Her work was completely new to me before this but on this evidence she’s gonna be huge. There are many words I could use to describe it but I’m simply going to go with stunning. It’s lush, detailed and practically leaps off the page.
Assisted by Chiara Arena, the two dovetail here with almost alchemical grace. Their beautiful sepia-tinted watercolours and deft, immersive compositions add a depth of field unlike anything currently on the stands. It drips with atmosphere, nuance and real tactile fullness. Yeah, I think the word stunning just about does it justice.
Image have become synonymous with quality in the last decade and Black Magick can stand proudly amongst the very best of their titles. It’s a fantastic first arc that ends on a real belter of a final panel that promises greater hardships ahead for Rowan. I’m not a guy who throws around top marks randomly but it’s a debut of astonishing brilliance and any discerning horror fan simply must buy it.
The writer of this piece was: Chris Downs
Chris Tweets from @ChrisDownsy