"Black Magick #6" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Nicola Scott
Color Assists by Chiara Arena
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 28th, 2017
After getting introduced to the enigmatic Rowan Black in the first story arc, Black Magick dives into the witch's origin story with this issue. We learn more about her family, her past lives, and what those connections are like. This stand-alone tale provides a moment to catch our breaths before diving into the present day trials and tribulations that Rowan faces as a group of supernatural forces conspires against her.
Writer Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott ease you into the witchcraft. The issue opens up with Rowan's 13th birthday party where everything seems normal. Her mother and grandmother are worried for what awaits the girl after the festivities are over. These are the last few moments where she's a regular kid. After tonight, her world will be changed forever as her mind will be opened up to learn of all of her past lives...and the horrors they've witnessed.
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It's easy to fall in love with Rowan from the moment you see her. She seems like such a sweet, good-natured kid, happy to hang out with her friends and celebrate her birthday. She's not yet bogged down by the moodiness that faces most teenagers as she's only just making that transition to young adulthood. Scott's designs for Rowan, as well as her family, are warm and inviting. They feel like relatives or old friends that you've known all your life. The characters look natural and real.
Color is used sparingly with Chiara Arena accentuating the otherwise blacks, whites, and greys with specific items, such as candlelight or the various past lives literally bubbling to the surface of Rowan's mind. It's not that Rowan's life was all in greyscale until she went through this ceremony. That would have been a little on the nose. Instead, Black Magick has this old school look to it, like you've just unearthed an ancient film reel about some forbidden ritual.
Speaking of which, you get the feeling the ceremony is old and powerful. It's taken very seriously. We've seen something similar in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, although this is handled with more respect and tradition. Although it's held under the cover of darkness, it's not evil. Instead, it's built on love and family. Rowan is about to join with the rest of her coven in this most sacred of rituals.
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So much of this issue is about character building and establishing the world of Black Magick that when something crazy happens, you're shocked back to reality. You're reminded of the horrors that Rowan has faced in the present day and see how they started years ago, tying her to this darkness at an early age. It's reminiscent of Stephen King in this case, working to make a character so relatable that you feel like you've known them for years before throwing them into a horrific situation. There's a feeling of dread that builds up, as if you're waiting for that other shoe to drop.
Black Magick may have taken a break from the current story to provide some background on the main character, however it doesn't come across as a history lesson. It doesn't even lose much in the way of momentum. If anything, it has the opposite effect, making us care more about Rowan and her life so that when Rucka and Scott come back with the next issue, we'll be even more emotionally invested with her. This is how you do great character work which in turn, translates to compelling horror.