Review – Black Dragon #1

Writer/Artist: Nick Gonzo
Letterer: Robin Jones
Release Date: November 13th at Thought Bubble

Set for release at this weekend’s Thought Bubble festival in Harrogate, Black Dragon is the latest offering from Nick Gonzo, a dose of high-concept science fiction that sees mankind taking to the stars to farm valuable resources from the back of the “Black Dragon” (yes, an actual black dragon) as it hurtles through space devouring everything in its path.

In this first issue, Gonzo introduces us to a few of the pilots who make the perilous trip to haul the aforementioned resources around, and the worryingly upbeat company – Greener Bio-Medical Technology – who oversee the entire process. He also gives us a little insight into the state of the world as a whole via some snippets of social media streams, advertisments and the like.

There are a lot of typical Gonzo traits on display here, both in the dialogue and the artwork, with a quirky, unconventional approach to sci-fi that keeps the pages turning rapidly throughout this first issue. I will say that this is probably the most restrained work I’ve seen from Gonzo to date, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Nick definitely seems to be taking his time here, delivering some gradual world-building and character work rather than leaping straight into the maelstom of insanty, as has often been his modus operandi in the past.

On the visual side of things, this also feels like a slightly more restrained Nick Gonzo than usual, and while there are some neat moments of visual humour along the way that feel a bit more ‘Gonzo’ (the Porkbox advert, for instance, is pure gold), the bulk of this issue feels fairly conventional for the most part – an approach which admittedly does make the ‘out there’ sequences, such as the introduction of the Dragon itself, land with a lot more authority.

In terms of pacing, it does perhaps feel like Gonzo had a ton of ideas that he wanted to fit into this first issue, and that maybe a few of them could have waited to be introduced gradually as the story progresses.  It comes across a little scattershot at times, with even the narrator herself having to remind readers that she’s meant to be the main protagonist as she tries to rein things back in.

Ultimately though, while it’s far more shotgun than scalpel, this first issue work well as an establishing shot, setting the tone for the series to come while introducing some of its key themes (the fragile nature of sustainable resources, the perils of superficial social media obsession and consumerist culture, etc.) and the characters who will carry the narrative moving forwards. Definitely worth a look, and I’ll be watching this series with interest as it unfolds.

Copies of Black Dragon will be available at Table 91 in Redshirt Hall at Thought Bubble on the 13th and 14th of November 2021, and digitally online shortly after.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says
You can follow Ceej on Twitter

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