Black Magick: Awakening
by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott
collects Black Magick #1-5
So I know I’m very late to the Black Magick party, but I am absolutely hooked on this occult neo-noir book – two genres that usually don’t appeal to me.
Black Magick follows Ronan Black, a detective who is also a witch. She’s kept her secret under wraps from Portsmouth PD pretty well, until a series of strange incidents and murders start coming up and make her a target.
Black Magic balances its detective procedural with witchcraft and occult (Rowan’s two identities) with some great character building as well. Rowan is fierce but relatable as she manages her own relationships, and tries to solve the crimes she knows are at the hands of some evil occult forces without giving herself away as a witch. Rucka sets up the mystery in the first issue, and the rest of the book both advances the mystery as we get to know Rowan and her professional as well as *personal* circles.
I personally would have liked more occult world building, we got a little bit at the end but I’m hoping for more in the next volume – along with more of Rowan’s past, her friendship with Alex, and some particularly loaded looks between Rowan and her square jawed partner, Morgan.
Nicola Scott’s art is just fantastic, and a big reason why I’m opting to buy the recently released hardcover edition before reading volume two. Her black and white noir style is so effective, and it gives magic an extra pop as the only element with color in the book. Moreover, the characters are drawn so realistically and consistently; there is exceptional attention to detail, but it’s not realistic to the point that it distracts from the story. The shading, facial expressions, and particularly Rowan and Alex’s angry, full panel close ups, make for an experience that completely pulls you in – it feels very dramatic, but still natural.
The ending was a little bit of a letdown – it was clearly meant to be a cliffhanger, but the “surprise” felt empty since we aren’t supposed to recognize (I think?) any of the characters in the final scene (Lucifer? Is that you?). And while I appreciate equal opportunity for gender nudity (not only living up to its ‘mature readers’ label, but actually using the female gaze for once!), I did notice that all the main characters are white; calling the police chief a main character is a bit of a stretch even though he’s in several scenes. I suppose that remains to be seen in the rest of the story.
Black Magick is a fantastic read and one of my favorite books of the year so far. I’m excited for volume two – and then I’ll be among everyone else eagerly awaiting the next arc.