Welcome back, comic lovers! Have I got an absolute gem for you this time around. From the creators of Harrow County and The Sixth Gun comes a gothic horror fantasy about a family of sorcerers in crisis. Roman Black is the moribund patriarch of a family of powerful sorcerers. As his wicked and corrupt children fight over who will take the reins of Manor Black and become representative of the black arts, Roman adopts a young mage to whom he gifts his powers, with the hope that someone good will take his place against the evil forces out to bring down his family and legacy. How will Roman’s children react to this mage? Not well, I would imagine.
Let’s dive right in. You ever have one of those ‘whoa’ moments during the beginning of a comic where you just know you’re witnessing something special unfold? I’ve had this same sensation happen with plenty of comics/graphic novels. Such as Natsume Ono’s Not Simple and Inio Asano’s Oyasumi Punpun. Normally it only takes me a few pages to recognize I’m in for something I’m really gonna enjoy. Such was the case when I started Manor Black. Fans of Umbrella Academy and The Order, I think I may have found the perfect pastime for when the downtime between seasons. Yeah, dude. It’s that good.
I wanna touch on the art first because, you know, that’s bread and butter of any good comic book. Duh. Artist Tyler Crook does an impeccable job of creating a truly scary, suspicious, compulsively readable dark story that fans of Dark Shadows, The Sixth Gun, Harrow County, and Locke & Key will adore. Crook’s choice in shadowing and loose yet detailed line-work offers a smooth transition in between frames. Throw the retro, faded color palette on top of it? You’re in for one hell of an eye pleasing ride. I seriously can’t get over how gorgeous this art is. Totally tattoo worthy, if you know what I mean. It’s a perfect compliment to Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s sharp storytelling.
It goes without saying that it’s pretty hard to get creeped out by a comic book. They don’t have the advantages of movies or TV shows. No spooky music, no talented actors to deliver lines or special effects to make for a genuinely tense atmosphere. Despite these drawbacks, Manor Black has somehow managed to bring readers into an environment that only grows more and more disturbing the deeper you explore the history of the Black family.
Speaking of Roman Black and his super creepy family, fans of Shirley Jackson’s novels or Crimson Peak will especially like how the tone of the story shifts whenever they appear. The comic appears to take place in relatively modern times. However, whenever the Black family makes an appearance–even in pretty normal scenarios–they add this intensity to the story. This sinister intensity that almost makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong if you find something likeable about them. The perfect family of villains. I have an especially bad feeling about those children of Roman’s. Me thinks they will not take too kindly to this young mage their father has decided to protect.
Manor Black is the perfect blend of fantasy and horror that will make you feel like Halloween has come early. It’s a story that’s totally worth keeping an eye on. It’s only the first issue. I have no idea where Manor Black is going but I’m so, so ready to go on this journey. And I sincerely hope you’ll join me.
Manor Black is published by Dark Horse comics. It’s written by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt. The art and coloring is done by Tyler Crook. The first issue of Manor Black is now available in comic book shops and via the Dark Horse Website.
Wicked Rating: 8/10