by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott
The new series from incredible talents Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, Black Magick tells the story of Rowan Black, a member of the police force who seems to have something of a double life. In the oversized first issue, readers are introduced to the female lead and the world that has been created for the new story. The approach to this first chapter is a careful one, and while the book mostly hangs on a single event, the audience learns so much about the new universe. Rucka’s script and Scott’s artwork are both top-notch in this first issue.
The creators of the book spend little time easing readers into this new world. Instead, the book pulls the audience right into the story as it opens on a very strange ceremony in the woods. A circle of cloaked figures stand around as one speaks as though casting a spell. It is unclear what kind of mystical event this might be or when this all takes place, and the creators have a bit of fun with the audience here before giving in just a bit as to the setting of the new series. Moments later, readers pick up with one of the members of this dark practice as she has arrived at a crime in progress. Rowan Black, detective by day, seems to have a side to her that she might not share with others. In just a few pages, the creators have already offered so much information about the universe. From here, the book holds its ground, sticking to the present event through to the end. While some books might rush through a number of sequences in their opening issue to present readers with a lot of information and excitement, Rucka and Scott are able to tell just as much while focusing on just this one place and time. Despite that singular focus, the book is absolutely effective in its ability to engage the reader, hold attention and slowly increase the tension with each passing moment.
Detective Black is asked for by name by the man holding several people hostage inside of a restaurant. The book takes its time, letting readers witness the detective and her fellow officers prepare for this encounter. Scott’s artwork is absolutely stunning in every panel. The characters feel completely developed. From their facial expressions, the choices for how they are dressed to the way in which they react to each other, Scott manages to make each individual feel unique and well thought out. Rucka and Scott even manage to craft a sequence in which readers might grow increasingly uncomfortable as Black faces down the man on the phone. The combination of the storytelling and visuals display a truly vulnerable Rowan Black. There is something visceral and effectively unsettling about how this is all crafted. Amazingly, while the book follows this event for dozens of pages, Rucka and Scott are subtly building out the world of Black Magick along the way. Just as the story reaches it end, readers will know a great deal about the state of things, while having just enough questions to wish for more.
Black Magick #1 is an excellent debut issue from some of the most impressive talents in comics. While double-life characters are not new to the medium, there is certainly something fresh about Rowan Black and the story presented in this opening chapter. And with a few more seeds in the back of the book, it is clear that there is much ahead to discover.