Sunday, June 3, 2018

Blackwood #1 Review

College Daze

Written by: Evan Dorkin
Art by: Veronica Fish
Layout and Letters by: Andy Fish
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: 30 May 2018

This is a book which arrived with quite a bit of fanfare. Maybe it was just my timeline but it seemed to gain a lot of attention on Twitter. Likewise, there was the added attraction for me of being told earlier this week that one of the characters looked a lot like America's Sweetheart, Mr. Eric Shea! Need I say more to excite you? Let's see how it was.

Well, let's start with the art. Very much in the Archie comics style from Veronica Fish, nice to look at, characters depicted well, and very stylish looking scenes with little comedic art twist in parts. I did wonder slightly about whether this style is best suited to the story type. I'm not deep enough into the story at this point to decide whether the humor level in the writing match the light humorous style of art (the darker preview pages included in this review aren't indicative of the rest of the book). That said, in this early stage in the story, it is too soon to make that call either way. There is something in my head though that makes me think that a more serious style could have matched the writing better. I'll suspend any judgment on that at this point.

As for the story itself, I felt as if Dorkin threw me into it a little coldly. The reader is never given a chance to attach to any one single character, although Wren Valentine is perhaps the closest we get to the main character. I did wonder whether the story could have been strengthened by basing this first issue through her eyes and thoughts. That would have allowed us to experience this new environment alongside her. As it is we seem to become too overly familiar with the team dynamic of the new students at too early a point. We are expected to form an attachment with characters we don't really get introduced to in any meaningful way. The background story of Professor Ogden which frames the issue is fine, and intriguing enough to hold the attention.

Bits and Pieces:

I would say that this book probably did enough to hold my attention and intrigue me enough to come back for more. That said, there is an assumed familiarity with the characters that doesn't ring quite true, and assumes a familiarity with the characters that the writer hasn't earned. I think it suffers a little from not giving the reader a central vantage point, and flits across characters and activity a little superficially at times. The art is very enjoyable, but I continue to have a lingering doubt over whether it is the right match for this type of story. Those reservations aside the story was intriguing enough, and there is definitely a cause for optimism for the future development of this series.


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