Black Magick #3

Three issues in, and Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are taking their time with "Black Magick." But before you think that's a bad thing, it's really not. What we're getting here is a gradual entry into a world that mixes police investigations with secret magick, and a slow build that fleshes out the characters' relationships with one another. The end result is a pleasant, inviting comic that will make readers want to see more without resorting to huge explosive moments.

"Black Magick" #3 gives us a glimpse into Rowan Black's life as she juggles her two lives: dealing with the investigation of Rowan White's death as well as her concerned partner, while simultaneously preparing to fend off the magickal assault that is surely on its way. It's nice to see Rowan is by no means at the top of her game in either arena, even though she's certainly more than competent. There's an undercurrent of tension between Rowan and her partner Morgan, one that makes it feel much more realistic than making it too strong or too weak. Rucka isn't afraid to provide us with something that's not simplistic, with enough information to let us read between the lines without ever resorting to blatant exposition.

Similarly, the revelation that Rowan hasn't set up wards to protect her home from invasion is told to us naturally. I like that there isn't some sort of lecture from Alex about the importance of such a spell; instead, Rucka lets it come up naturally. The way Rowan uses her magick to obtain Rowan White's lighter is also nice; it's something that requires as much real-world smarts as it does her supernatural skills, and it keeps anything from being too easy. In this series, magick isn't a fix-all but merely another tool to be used in the right circumstances.

Scott's art is gorgeous, a new career high for her. The soft, gray-toned pencils look incredibly realistic, with little details like Morgan's dimple on his chin or five o'clock shadow coming through and dazzling the reader. Every page has incredibly lush settings, too; "Black Magick" #3 doesn't cut corners, making sure every place Rucka visits comes across like a real world location. The body language is strong too, from Alex's languid pose as she exhales cigarette smoke to the way Rowan shrugs off her gun holster as she returns home. Add in how Scott and Chiara Arena use non-gray colors to show magick's effects in the real world, and it's the icing on the proverbial cake.

"Black Magick" #3 may have a slow pace, but it's still a joy to gradually immerse yourself in its world. The characters slowly unfold in front of us, and this naturalistic pace makes it feel smooth and rewarding. For an opening storyline, this works well. Here's to much more "Black Magick" in the new year.


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