Black Mask Studios 2018
Created & Written by Pat Shand
Created & Illustrated by Renzo Rodriguez
Coloured by Mara Jayne Carpenter
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Scout Turner works as a cryptozoologist, examining and cataloguing supernatural creatures for scientific purposes. When she discovers the cure for asthma in the venom of a new breed of monster, she quickly finds herself on the run from Kenilworth Pharmaceuticals and the monsters that they've hired to kill her. With no one by her side but her clueless assistant, a morally ambiguous succubus, and her geriatric dog, Scout goes on the run... but in a world controlled by money and drugs, can she escape the reaching claws of a medical monopoly?
Leave it to Pat to be able to come with something that starts off wildly and turns into something even more unexpected than I could have possibly hoped for. The opening here is fantastic and the whole reveal of who Scout is well that’s something I hadn’t seen coming. But I like it and instantly I believe the audience will connect with her, her attitude and the way she carries herself. Also there really is a nice duality to her that we see quickly as we meet Quincy as well. That kind of familiarity she has with the gate guard well that says more about the kind of person she is than anything else.
The way this book is structured is fantastic I love the ebb & flow of what we see and even more impressive is the way that we kind of come into the middle of things and there’s absolutely no reaction to the fact that supernatural creatures of myth actually do exist. I like that no backstory needed no explanation of why they are real it just is and that’s that. It makes things so much easier without the need to explain and it is also something completely underrated use of storytelling so I applaud the use of it here.
The myriad of characters we are introduced to is a signature of Pat’s including his use of prominent females who happen to be lesbians. I love the way that conversation and work mix and match in ways that shouldn’t but do and Gracie-Eisey well honesty we’ve all known someone like her and I'm surprised Scout hasn’t killed her yet. Then add that to the circumstances that set off a major chain reaction here and viola suddenly the word is a lot more dangerous.
Renzo and Mara Jayne do some absolutely stellar gorgeous work on the interiors. I mean I was immediately drawn to the attention to detail and how much of the panel was used to show off where it was and how it expands the scene. There is a creativity and imagination here that comes through with the creatures and how we see them. The way page layouts are utilised and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows off a great eye for storytelling. I love the way the linework weight varies for the bold to subtle work which helps immensely with that whole attention to detail.
There’s something about the innocent turn of events that we see here. Granted the biggie ties into the name of the series but from there all that we see has this kind normality to it that you just find fascinating. I love that Scout and Gracie-Eisey go to lunch come back and hell has broken loose and yet neither of them notice a thing is happening around them as the chit-chat all the way. It is so fantastically written and the pacing, timing and depiction of it’s characters all of it.
This people is what I have come to expect from Black Mask. This is top level stuff and it seems they are on the cutting edge of comics.