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Black Magick #1

There are several creative teams that I can recommend to new readers without knowing anything about the content of their books. Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, and Gail Simone are up there. So is Greg Rucka. His run on Gotham Central (co-writing with Brubaker) about the police officers negotiating Batman’s city changed the way we read cop stories and, by extension, how we view superheroes, and I do not think DC’s television landscape would exist without that proof of concept. His work on Lazarus has provided one of my all-time favorite examples of character-driven science fiction, and his heroine is right there with Buffy in my heart. So it is safe to say I could not take on this week’s assignment free from giddy bias.

This only compounded when I saw that Nicola Scott was doing the art duties here. Her work is gorgeous and true, like real life if you and all of your friends had perfectly-rounded butts and always knew how to stand so you looked comfortable and sexy at the same time. Her work on Earth 2 kept me hooked even after the one gay supporting character met the wrong end of a bullet train in the first issue.

I am thrilled to report that the first issue of Black Magick delivers everything I want in a Rucka-Scott project. The story is a perfect Halloween read – Detective Rowan Black is called out of a Fall Equinox Wiccan ritual to handle a hostage situation in town. She’s tough and witty, and she handles the tense situation with humor and confidence even when the hostage-taker reveals his links to her occult identity and suggests the brewing of a dangerous war. It’s a perfect cold-open. We have met this amazing woman, we’ve got tantalizing details about her magical nature, we’ve got a tone that can support a solemn spiritual ritual alongside a joke about cell phones and an action sequence, and we’ve started one Hell of a mystery. The art is largely in shades of grey, but the magical elements (candles, spells, flames) dance off the page in coruscating vivid hues. Nicola Scott is a master of stage blocking, spinning her camera around tight spaces with the utmost preserved details, and the reader closes this book with an unmistakeable sense that opening credits are about to roll. I want everyone to hit Ultimate Comics and read this book, but I almost want more to see this fast-tracked to a TV series so I can roll my hipster eyes at having already read it when everyone in America falls under its spell.

-Matt Conner for Ultimate Comics