Dark Horse Comics 2016
Written by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
Roman Black is the moribund patriarch of a family of powerful sorcerers. As his wicked and corrupt children fight over who will take the reins of Manor Black and become representative of the black arts, Roman adopts a young mage whom he gifts his powers to with the hope that someone good will take his place against the evil forces out to bring down his family and legacy.
Not going to lie I was extremely excited for this one, this grouping is pretty much a guarantee that we are going to get one hell of a great read. These guys don't disappoint either and what I am seeing is something completely new and different. How Cullen manages to be so gosh darn good that he can keep up with these original ideas is beyond me but the man is probably tied for the hardest working man in comics (he and Jeff Lemire). Working with this familiar posse the three of them come together and bring us a summer blockbuster in my humble opinion.
I love the opening here. There is mystery and excitement and we come in pretty much at the end of something which only heightens the intrigue factor. I want to know what was going on here and why the folks in the van were running and who exactly they were running from. It's a perfectly constructed opening to bring out that those myriad of feelings ensuring that the reader will want to keep reading. I blown away at how this opening is like a master class in how to construct the start of your story.
The way the entire book is structured is sensational as we see the pacing encompass the story & plot development and the character development through the pages of this issue in some amazing ways. If you forget for a minute that there are supernatural powers in play and focus on the characters and how we see the acting and this takes on a noir mystery feel to it that is phenomenal. The introduction of the characters happens in a nice natural way as after the opening we get to meet Roman Black and again the intrigue factor goes through the roof. So many questions in the readers' minds mean they've been engaged in the story in ways that take them off page and into their imaginations which is what a story is supposed to do.
Tyler, sigh, this man and what he is capable of doing for these interiors is bloody brilliant. The linework shows a strong and steady hand, the utilisation of its varying weights to create this attention to detail is stupendous and the creativity & imagination in bringing aspects of this to life is scary good. Then add into that his colour work and it takes not just to a whole new level but a whole new stratosphere. How colour is utilised to create facial structures as easily as seeing how light sources create shading and shadows setting the mood perfectly in every instance shows this natural instinct and talent for how to use them. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows why Tyler is or should be one of the best of best illustrators in the business.
So many different characters from so many different perspectives are in play here making the story already have more layers than a seven layer cake. I am excited to see how all these different folks come together in the long run and just how the paths will cross. That the characterisation for each character is dynamite and the way that I have been pulled into this book damn near immediately shows such amazing minds at work here. I cannot wait to see the infighting and drama that comes with Roman's actions. There is so much to look forward to and if this is how it starts then damn I can't wait to get to the climax!