Pros: This is a very well written and interesting story set in a fascinating world. It also does not feel like an introduction at all, despite being exactly that.
Cons: Nothing major, however different readers will experience the work differently.
Overall: This is a start and great first chapter to what could be an extremely interesting and very fun story. Magic, crime, and mystery all fill this collection and are what add to this story’s intrigue. If you are interested in procedural police work, witches, the occult, or just smart, well told stories, then this is a book to check out.
Black Magick Vol. 1: Awakening Part 1 does the two things every first volume should: it tells an interesting story which engages readers and it introduces the world it is building. This book does this nearly perfectly. That is certainly not all though; it also somehow manages to avoid feeling like a boring introduction, which is a trap most series’ first volumes fall into. Overall, this was an incredibly effective first glimpse at this brand new series that will not only give readers a good first story but will also get them excited for the second.
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The first and most important thing that this volume does is tell an interesting story within its pages. Sometimes new series will spend their entire first arc explaining the plot and detailing the world without actually telling anything interesting to start out. This series starts with a man trying to kill the protagonist, the investigation into his motives, and a completely separate murder investigation on top of that. All of these would be interesting enough on their own but throwing in an entire magical world to motivate them just makes it that much better. It almost feels like watching a really good episode of Law and Order, except one of the main characters also just happens to have magical powers.
The second thing this volume does right is introduce the world it is building. The book starts with a scene that perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the book. It depicts what appear to be colonial-style, cloaked witches reciting incantations and spells in order to perform some sort of dark ritual in the woods, then someone’s cell phone goes off. This clash between old pagan rituals with the modern world give the book a mysterious set of rules to follow; figuring out these rules is a great drive in reading. I, personally, went into this book only knowing that it involved magic and a police force (I avoided information so I could read it as fresh as possible), so these first few pages really threw me for a loop and doubled my interest right from the start. Things get even better from there as more spells, a witch hunting organization, and a secret villain are all introduced. The world of witches introduced here leaves the reader wondering how their particular brand of magic works, what their current goals are, and why they are being hunted. This volume gives the readers many reasons to keep reading, but the best ones lie in the mysteries surrounding this world it is building.
These aspects are what will hook readers into this series as a whole. However the aspect that drives this specific volume home is how good the story is within it. When a volume or issue is the first in a brand new series, it often falls into the common trappings of being an introduction. These usually involve delving far too deep into the story’s fresh mythos or spending too much time characterizing the protagonists. Mostly, these other works just end up feeling like a setup for something else rather than being something fun to read on their own. This book manages to avoid these flaws while still managing to sneak in exposition. It makes the story feel like another chapter in the characters’ lives, rather than a lengthy explanation of what is happening. Not only does this make this specific volume better but it also gives a lot of promise to the future of this series.
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The art throughout this collection is simply fantastic. It looks great and it makes the reading experience even better. The characters are all steeped in realism and are drawn and clothed in a way that makes them feel like they could really be a part of a small town somewhere. However, its use of color, or lack thereof, to enhances the story is what makes it noteworthy.
Most of the book is shrouded in various shades of white, black, and grey; color is rarely used. The first benefit of this is that it pairs well with the detective portion of the book in order to give things a noir feel. It turns this small town investigation into one that Humphrey Bogart or Rita Hayworth could easily be involved in. All in all, this simply contributes to the seriousness and mystery of what is happening in this book.
The other way this darkness helps is that it highlights the rest of the subject matter being dealt with: witches and magic. If it weren’t for the magic, this would be a very standard story about police in a small town. It is the magic that so radically changes things. The art demonstrates this by showing magic as something colorful, bright, and above all, mysterious. It is the only thing in this book which receives color, highlighting its existence and leaving the reader with more questions. Is this because magic is the only good thing in this pale world? Or is it because the magic is otherworldy and simply does not belong here? Only time will answer these questions, but the fact that they are present gives this book more of an edge.
This comic is published by Image Comics, a creator-owned publishing company who’s titles do not often crossover with each other. Thus this title, like many other Image Comics, maintains its own continuity. This means you will receive everything you need to understand the story in this book.
As of yet, this is the only book to come out in this series. The series stopped publication in order for the creators to work on Wonder Woman by DC Comics. However, they have more recently stated that they will indeed be continuing the series soon. This means more is coming for the world of Black Magick.