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Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Nicola Scott and Eric Trautmann
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: October 28, 2015

A call to duty brings a police detective face-to-face with a man ready to burn her alive. Call him a terrorist. Call him deranged. But he’s a witch hunter, and things are about to get really dangerous for Rowan Black. Good thing she’s an actual witch.

And with that, we have another surefire Greg Rucka-penned female lead. Having had the pleasure of sitting down with Greg to chat about ten (Man. TEN.) of his original women characters, it’s fair to say I have peered into what it takes to make new characters work from the ground up. The man has an unnatural gift for building them from the DNA outward, with logic, sense, and heart.

So, it is no surprise to see the seeds of yet another beautiful construction planted at Image Comics with collaborator Nicola Scott (who is also a rare wonder) in Black Magick #1. By comparison to characters like Dex Parios and Forever Carlyle, we may not know much about Rowan Black yet, but here’s what we do know:

Rowan Black is the type of practitioner that wouldn’t put her phone on silent during a ritual.

Rowan Black rides a kickass motorcycle, wears combat boots, and socks like the Wicked Witch of the East.

Rowan Black is the kind of cop who jokes about risking her life after jumping in feet first without hesitation.

Rowan Black has a secret name.

This is someone I am desperate to know more about, slow burn or not. And thanks to some introductory artifacts created and compiled by Eric Trautmann (a factor that takes Lazarus up a notch every. Single. Issue.), I have a feeling there’s A LOT to learn. The family tree presented as a two page spread here is particularly gorgeous for its geometric simplicity and sharp, weathered design. Frankly, I’m enough of a design nerd that I’d want to see it poster-size on my wall.

But the real treat in this issue is the utterly remarkable art stylings of Nicola Scott. Taking on full pencil, brush, and colors (with some undetermined degree of assist from Chiara Arena), Scott has crafted a beautiful black-and-white world where magic and violence comes through as color, hitting you in the face with its glory when you least expect. It’s almost like a horror film, where the tension grows until a sudden shock makes you leap from your chair. Except that it isn’t fear, for me anyway. It’s something more akin to revelation. Like color washing over you in a wave of ecstasy (albeit as it burns a man alive).

But that’s the (dare I say it) magic of what Scott is performing here, giving us her trademark rich shading that transforms all of her figures into voluminous shape. I actually can’t stop staring at Scott’s rendering of Rowan on her bike, against deep black, with some seemingly simple marker brush strokes creating the creasing on her jacket and subtle blending adding this wonderful depth of space and mass to herself and her transportation. And that’s all with no shortage of detail in Rowan’s hair, the bike motor, or even the zipper on her jacket. It’s amazing all around, and only one page of twenty-eight.

A gorgeous introduction to a character I cannot wait to get to know better, Black Magick #1 is a piece of art if there ever was one. Anyone who asks about the cost of comics versus the value provided need only be pointed to this book, where we literally have been given magic on the page. Rucka and Scott have done wonders on their own for years. Having them together on a single book is nothing short of stunning. Don’t pass this opportunity up. Believe.

The Verdict: 9.5/10



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