Black Magick #6: Awakening II – Part 1 - Review

June 28, 2017 | Image Comics

After a bit of a hiatus, Black Magick is back.  Love me a bit of Black Magick.

For those who haven’t had the good fortune to read it before, a brief summary:  Written by Greg Rucka with art by Nicola Scott (who recently worked together on Wonder Woman, part of DC’s Rebirth series), the first five issues of Black Magick introduced us to Rowan Black, a Portsmouth PD detective… and a witch. Although somewhat challenging, she generally manages to keep these two parts of her life separate – but this suddenly becomes more difficult when someone starts targeting her, because of what she is…

Darkness runs through this comic. Rowan is a cop, and that job isn’t exactly sweetness and light.  She’s also a witch, which is going to bring its own trouble.  I want to say that this isn’t a horror comic, but the story certainly does have some horrific elements. In volume 1 there’s a memorable post post-mortem scene that some might think was a touch too detailed, for example, and this issue features a particularly nasty image of a very creepy little girl.  So occult, murder, creepy little girls – ok, this is horror.  But it’s really well-written darkness that is a joy to read.

“Awakening II – Part 1” begins by taking us back fifteen to twenty years.   It’s Rowan’s 13th birthday, there’s party and cake, and Mom and Gran whispering in the kitchen, worrying comments like: “this time feels different and I don’t know why.” Of course, it’s after the party that the fun really begins.

Three generations in one car and it’s the most congenial chat I’ve ever seen between family.  But they are off for a ceremony, a special ceremony for Rowan. Now 13, she has come of age, and they are witches, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that they are off to a very special ceremony indeed…

After a break of four months, Issue #6 of Black Magick continues to be a truly well-written comic; words and frames are never wasted.  The writing is concise, insightful and conveying a wealth of personality and colour (which is impressive considering the artwork is mostly black and white) – although there is a small moment during the conversation in the car that rams the point home just a little too hard for my tastes.

However, Nicola Scott’s artwork is never less than stunning. The softness and gentility of the pencil work and shading really brings each and every face to life. In a couple of frames, Rowan’s grandmother resembles Gillian Anderson; I’m not sure if that was intentional, but it worked for me. There’s also a very intricate carpet in the kitchen diner, which must have taken a considerable amount of time to get right. You have to wonder why someone would spend that effort on a single frame, but it’s beautiful, displaying not only Scott’s skill, but her dedication to her work too.   The general palate of the piece is a delicate grey tone, but the occasional touches of colour are inspired, highlighting the use of magic in a way that elevates rather than distracts. The transformation scene is particularly breathtaking – and not just because it’s underwater.  The moment when Rowan’s eye turn blue is both beautiful, and frightening.

This is a strong comeback, and, not surprisingly a definite five out of five.

Black Magick #6 is available now from Amazon.co.uk and other leading retailers and comic shops.

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