“Black Magick” #1, by writer Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott (with color assists by Chiara Arena), introduces us to Detective Rowan Black. The balance of her separate lives as cop and practitioner of witchcraft combine for a tense and explosive first issue that is one of the best debuts of the year.
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Nicola Scott
The hammer falls this Halloween! From New York Times bestselling and Eisner Award-winning writer GREG RUCKA (LAZARUS, Stumptown, Gotham Central) and superstar artist NICOLA SCOTT (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Earth 2)! Detective Rowan Black works robbery/homicide for the Portsmouth PD, but her greatest mystery is the truth about herself…both who she has been, and who she will become. Yet there are others in Rowan’s world with very long memories, and the power that one person holds, another will always covet. PLUS, each issue also features an all-new work of original fiction by GREG RUCKA! A new gothic-noir ongoing series about legacy, destiny, redemption…and the price of magic. – See more at: https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/black-magick-1#sthash.yDzLUWHK.dpuf
Rowan Black is practicing a Wiccan ritual with her fellow witches when she gets a call about a hostage situation. Her personal life is about to get intertwined with her cop job. Greg Rucka throws us into the middle of a tense situation that reeks wonderfully of mystery and suspense. We don’t know Rowan’s history yet but, from what is gleaned from “Black Magick” #1, she is indeed a formidable young woman. Together with co-creator and artist Nicola Scott, this introduction to Rowan is one that is expertly told both in its script and visuals. The painted art is breathtaking and the little color found within the issue highlights pages that are unlike any conjured by Scott.
Ancient rituals interrupted by modern technology. A cinematic and familiar police situation. A badass main character that is more complicated than we are even privy to yet. All these elements combine within Rucka’s story to draw us deeper into Rowan’s life and keep us interested in a character that we know little about. Rucka is adept at hinting at the history of this Portsmouth cop without explicitly unveiling everything. The back matter written by Rucka at the end of the issue gives us a flavor of what we can expect from a series that will no doubt involve history and the supernatural in a grounded setting.
Rucka’s suspenseful pacing of “Black Magick” #1 makes the climax much more impactful because we have no idea what to expect from the potentially deadly situation. By having a realistic setting with realistic characters and dialogue, the future of the series’ is full of enticing possibilities. The hints of family history and intrigue in Rucka’s back matter are welcome additions that add an even further richness to the issue. Adventure beckons from the past and bursts into the future.
Nicola Scott’s painted art is pure perfection. Emotions can be subtle one moment and intensely fiery the next. Her art style is instantly recognizable yet has an experimentation in its simplicity that brings “Black Magick” #1 to tactile life. Shadows are used to powerful effect, from the night time rituals in a forest to the lit interior of a burger joint. Without Scott, this issue would not have the atmosphere that is desperately needed for a script containing the subtlety of Rucka’s words and barebones plot. Scott injects suspense into the pages with her pacing, which she evokes through the focus in her panels. Every little look or action is important and her art, whether building up to something or unleashing a revelation, is palpable and exciting.
Body language is also important for an issue like this and Scott expresses that in an exceptional manner. The hostage-taker is a great example in “Black Magick” #1. He expresses a litany of emotions, from defiance to confidence to fear. Scott brings each of those feelings to life and elicits reactions from the reader that are appropriate and also sometimes surprising. In one panel, the hostage-taker has a single drop of sweat traveling down his head while his bloodshot eyes produce tears. One eye has one long tear while the other eye is building up toward an eruption. The body and every part of it is not left untouched by Scott and her freedom to express herself through her art is vividly and joyfully on display.Continued below
Another aspect of Scott’s art that would make “Black Magick” #1 extremely different without it is her use of black and white. The absence of color allows Scott to convey the art’s actions and emotions with much more power. The simplicity of black and white gives the issue more of an aura of reality while also simultaneously lending the art an underlying supernatural element. The little use of color that Scott and Chiara Arena do bring to the issue is that much more powerful because it highlights the magic lurking beneath the story’s surface. The impact of the lack of color and also of those few pages of color is in service to making our reactions that much more eye-opening in nature.
“Black Magick” #1 is definitely an eye-opening first issue of a more than promising series. The devotion and care in bringing this issue to life is visible in every aspect of its creation. Story, characterization, and mystery are lovingly and giddily expressed in every aspect of Rucka and Scott’s endeavor. Like any great tale involving the supernatural, subtlety is important. This issue has it and, because of that subtlety, demands and rewards a second read immediately after the first.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are two creators that have, separately, been great. Together, they conjure magic.