Praise for Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s comic series from Image, Black Magick: Awakening. Its first trade collection for the series was first released in October 2015. TGI‘s Senior Editor, Tara M. Clapper reviewed the first issue of the comic following the release.
“Black Magick: Awakening” Summary (Some Spoilers)
The first few pages open to panels in the middle of the woods to celebrate Mabon (or Fall Equinox) to a closed circle of chanting to bless the season. So mote it be. The festivities attire is one to be admired. Everyone is wearing cloaks and some sort of head covering or piece. What I appreciate most about this scene is the lack of emphasis on body parts (I will return to this thought later on).
Following the ritual, a cell phone rings causing a disturbance. Detective Rowan Black, one of the witches present, leaves to attend an urgent call from work – a hostage situation at a local eatery, Burger Buddy; there’s a man who keeps requesting her presence although she’s never met him. Once they meet, he whispers her true name to her only to be burned shortly thereafter. However, it’s not what you think! It’s revealed that someone was controlling him. Who? We’ll have to wait and see.
“John Doe” is now under investigation and Black now continues to work as normally as she can even though she knows that through the connection of this man and her coven, something isn’t right. With the assistance of the coven’s most powerful witch, Alex, she agrees to help Black with these disturbing happenings and why she is being targeted.
Not too long after “John Doe” was burned to death, another body washes up in the river in Portsmouth (where the story takes place). It turns out to be a deceased murderer that Black, and her partner, Morgan, could never build enough tangible evidence to put away. The final issue ends with a meeting of whom shall be familiar faces, in due time.
The Idea of Color
The great tribute to admire about Black Magick is the artwork and the different types of emphasis the artists place on factors. A comic completely drawn with the intention of a grayscale setting is quite impressive and not to be underrated. Color is not overused. In this case, the artists use color to demonstrate emotional turning points and important occurrences throughout the story.
Because of this comic’s engulfing nature to suck you into the narrative and block out any noise, the seductive color feels natural. The colored panels also have a tendency to keep your eye from wandering onto the next to admire the current sequence of events.
Another random thought to point out would be the names: Black and White. I believe the grayscale also furthers the connection between the two characters, especially since they both had an “interesting” introduction.
In Comparison to Contributor Review
Comparing to Clapper’s previous review of the first issue, she mentions that Black is a strong female protagonist and that she is someone who can balance different aspects of her life. She reminds me of Joan Jett with her greasy hair and loose leather jacket; not forgetting to mention her independence and freedom to roam when she pleases. Of course, for story-driven purposes, Black’s life is now intertwining between her encounter at Burger Buddy to saving her fellow shaman from a terrorizing demon.
Returning to my previous comment of the lack of emphasis of body parts, that is the point: the lack of it. Throughout the panels, many of the character faces, clothing, objects, home’s, rooms, ritual set-ups, etc. are designed to catch the reader’s eyes. This was a great move on the team’s part because most pagans strive to be open with themselves and the universe. Each path of paganism is different, but as all religions, we all worship for the same assumptions.
Moving Forward (Spoilers)
In these five issues alone, we experience the awakening of dark magick unfolding, the possibility of a witch-hunting corporation, the connections between Dunridge’s murder, Rowan White, and Black, the potential (and uprising) problems the coven is about to face, and possible relationships that we may want to happen.
I feel that Black and her partner, Morgan is a paradox to the relationship Detective Olivia Benson and Detective Elliot Stabler had on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. There were a few episodes that alluded to what seemed like a match made in heaven, as do Black and Morgan. As viewers though, we have to remember that there are different types of love. Like Detective Benson, Black is also close to Morgan’s wife, Anna. We see their relationship prosper when Anna showed her the newly renovated nursery and where Black says to calm her down,
Nothing is going to happen to Morgan,
I tell myself that but–
No, Anna, listen, nothing will happen to Morgan. I won’t let it. I won’t permit it. You have my vow.
However, in an interview with Nicola Scott, she states,
“He’s had rough patches so is generally happy to go with the flow when it comes to his lovely real wife and his complicated work wife.”
It will be a challenge to constantly remind myself of this fact because not every womyn, nor every man, is made for each other in the fictional and real-life universe.
When I first saw this comic on that the stacks at my local comic book shop and avoiding spoilers through various Facebook comic groups, I was eager to read it. Following off of my high of Rachel Rising by Terry Moore, I’ve been looking for another horror-filled tradeback to fill in the void.
Unlike Rachel Rising where historically accurate tales and biblical references are often made, this story is more true to the pagan and spiritual traditions. A wonderful surprise on my part and I was not disappointed in the least!
Unfortunately, the series is now on hiatus until April 2017 (at the latest), due to Rucka and Scott taking on Wonder Woman for DC Rebirth. Hopefully, I can thicken my patience until then.
To purchase this trade, click here.
Full Disclosure: The reviewer received a copy of the comic for review.