Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Review: BLACKWOOD #1

DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Evan Dorkin
LAYOUTS: Andy Fish
ART: Veronica Fish
COLORS: Veronica Fish
LETTERS: Andy Fish
EDITOR: Daniel Chabon
COVER: Veronica Fish
VARIANT COVER: Becky Cloonan
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (May 2018)

Sometimes, more often than I would like to admit (pride?), I read a comic book that reminds me of why I am still reading comic books.  Blackwood, a new four-issue comic book miniseries published by Dark Horse Comics, is one of those magical comic books that keep me visiting comic book shops and buying comic books wherever I can.

Blackwood is written by Evan Dorkin; drawn Veronica Fish, from layouts provided by Andy Fish; colored by Veronica Fish and lettered by Andy Fish.  Blackwood is a supernatural fantasy about a magical murder in a sorcery school.

Blackwood #1 opens by depicting two men under distress, apparently caused by supernatural forces.  Then, we meet new college student, Wren Valentine, as she arrives via train at Blackwood Station.  Wren meets another student, Reiko Oyuki; both young women have arrived in this isolated area to attend Blackwood College.

Right away, Wren and Reiko discover that there is plenty that is peculiar about the college, which offers odd, eccentric, and esoteric disciplines.  Soon, the two women are meeting fellow new students, who will join them in experiencing something ancient, sinister, and shocking.

You be forgiven for thinking about Harry Potter when you read or read about Blackwood.  The supernatural, magical-mystery boarding school/college is a well-worn fantasy setting.  Heck, DC Comics has published issues of two such comic book series (Gotham Academy; Mystik U) in just the last two years.

What should make Blackwood unique from other magical school fiction is that Evan Dorkin and Veronica Fish are singular comic book creators.  Dorkin is a imaginative storyteller who thrives in multiple genres and who can present different spins on any genre (as he shows in humor series like Milk and Cheese and Dork).

Veronica Fish's illustrations for comic books seem like someone took Archie Comics art and gave it an alternative comics slash Vertigo comics spin.  Fish's use of flat color sells Blackwood's garish Hammer Film Productions quality.  Letter and layout artist Andy Fish ties it all together with a strong sense of design, particularly in terms of what will make this funky premise work.

Blackwood may be familiar in many aspects, but it works by looking and acting differently.  And I had such a blast reading it.  Dorkin and Fish & Fish are creating something so intriguing that I think it has some kind of allure... or maybe glamour, but I found myself in the story:  confused, scared, and running alongside the rest of the Blackwood gang.  Isn't that reason enough for me to recommend Blackwood to you, dear reader?

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2018 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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