After their stellar run on Wonder Woman, writer Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott return to the world of Detective Rowan Black with a revealing coming-of-age story. Some family legacies are easier to bear than others, and in issue #6, Rowan’s 13th birthday party is capped off by the day’s actual main event — her awakening ceremony.
It’s been more than a year since issue #5, and it was a good decision to use this flashback issue to reacquaint readers with the characters by exploring a critical period in Rowan’s history. The happy-go-lucky preteen we meet at the start of the issue is a “typical” kid enjoying her life. This naive young Rowan is quite the contrasting figure to the 33-year-old with the prevailing sense of melancholy we’ve known so far. Although her mother and grandmother adore her and have raised her in the traditions of their religion, Rowan cannot fathom the impact of the line she will cross at her awakening ceremony.
Rucka deftly structured the issue as a “before and after” story that pivots around the ceremony. Lighthearted events prior to the ceremony give way to its solemnity as Rowan is awakened to all her past lives. Due to the Black family’s lengthy and storied history, Rowan now carries a heavy burden. Rucka and Scott take an interesting storytelling turn after the ceremony in a series of wordless panels depicting Rowan’s deteriorating personality as the crushing weight of her heritage isolates the teen. It’s heartbreaking to watch and just the beginning of her woes.
Nicola Scott’s captivating black-and-white art is the emotional exclamation point to Rucka’s smooth script and punctuated by brief color that appears at the most shocking moments with disturbing impact. The gorgeous shading and washes imbue the panels with an almost photo-realistic quality that resemble movie stills. The book is clearly a labor of love, and Scott is at the top of her game — so don’t fly through the issue. Remarkable details within the panels bring warmth and depth to Rowan’s thoroughly realized world that you don’t want to miss. Just check out the kitchen — from the notes on the fridge and the houseplants to the utensils on the counter and the birthday decorations, this could be your mom’s kitchen on your 13th birthday.
Black Magick is the kind of impeccable storytelling possible when the talented members of a seasoned creative team cut loose and enjoy their work. Now is the perfect time to reread your issues or pick up the trade and get back up to speed with the story before they return to present time in #7 (set to release on Aug. 30). Huge thanks for the classy run on Wonder Woman, team, and please keep pushing the creative envelope with this title.