Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Nicola Scott, Chiara Arena, Jodi Wynne
Published by
Release date: June 28, 2017

Nicola Scott’s art and Chiara Arena’s colors drive the storytelling in this long awaited issue of Black Magick. It’s the first one readers have had the chance to hold in their hands this past year. Instead of immediately jumping into the repercussions of the last issue’s fallout, the creative team explores just how Rowan came into her abilities. Police detective Rowan Black’s tale takes a step back in time. The purpose here is to show the jarring coming-of-age for the powerfully charged witch.

There are many milestones in life that seem to mirror Rowan’s experience about coming face-to-face with her past lives. It would be easy to draw correlations in the story with experiencing a first menstruation or anyone having the emotional roller coaster awakening of repressed memories and trauma. Readers will each take away their own point of view. However, Rucka has laid out a plot that mirrors the angst of teenage realization. The whole creative team cranks up the reasons behind the desperation to feel, act out, and desire control.

Large portions of the story are told in wordless panels. The series regular ink wash style, highlighted by pops of color, when magic is used, continues to sell emotional weight. Layouts are rather traditional, still use black gutters and pages, with occasional panel overlays or odd fitting pieces to sell the stirring moments. This is the most apparent in the gutting reveal of the final pages. Scott’s detailed eyes, expressive mouths and lined figures feel so much like real people and tug at your heart.

While keeping more in line with Wiccan based beliefs and practices, this issue continues to try and expand the magical world created in the Black Magick universe. Rowan’s coming-to-magic ceremony is highlighted by the attendance of people from various magic practicing cultures, emphasizing the central leadership role these families take with each new generation. It’s that extra touch of world building that helps everything feel more expansive than just what has been shown directly.  Scott and Arena’s pages which focus on water, bubbles and being beneath it also help to create a rich atmosphere, that reflects birth, rebirth or renewal.

The main hole in an otherwise beautiful issue is that extra little push to get people to go back and read the first five issues. There is nothing directly in the story to overtly get someone to read the previous volume. On that flip side, this does not come across as a must read installment, for now. Future story developments can obviously shift this perspective. There is something to be said about being new reader friendly. This issue does that very well. No prior knowledge about Rowan is necessary. If you are interested in this series but uncertain if you want to buy the first volume, try this one issue out. It provides all the artistic elements and typical pacing for the story. Reading this prequel out of order will also not damage any story elements from the previous volume.

Visuals and limited dialogue drive readers forward with understanding heartache. It’s a standalone issue in a series that typically hinges with each plot twist. The creative teams does a beautiful job of explaining the anger and concern that drives Rowan. It’s a great way to dive back in; slowly bathing readers in the emotional waters of Black Magick.  

The Verdict: 9.0/10


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