Ray and Denny’s past catches up with them in a number of ways in Black Market #3, but is it good?
Black Market #3 (BOOM! Studios)
Frank Barbiere and Victor Santos have finally hit their stride in Black Market, where Ray and his brother Denny track down Supers to drain their blood for a company called Biochem. The story starts out on November 8, 2012. Ray has agreed to help Denny patch up one of his injured crew members, and the tone of the story is ominous. Barbiere uses Ray to narrate the opening scene and sucks the reader in with an excellent bit of writing: “But all the good intentions in the world can’t fix what I’ve done.” The reader immediately desires to find out what exactly can be worse than what Ray has already done in the previous two issues.
After dropping this huge teaser, Barbiere shifts the focus to October 3, 2013. Ray’s recent history has already caught up to him: the police have found him out. Victor Santos does a wonderful job turning Ray’s average home into an interrogation room. Ray is slumped over in a chair in the middle of his kitchen, while one of the police officers stands above him and the other sits on the counter across from him. The scene is one of intimidation which Santos emphasizes even more in the subsequent panels. One of the cops gets right in Ray’s face, so close he can see his reflection in the officer’s glasses. The cop’s mustache adds that extra touch of intimidation that pushes the scene over the top. Santos sells the fear and intimidation and even has the reader feeling a touch sorry for Ray, despite knowing the heinous crime he committed in the first book. The scene also adds to the world Ray inhabits: there are no good guys, not even cops.
The story really heats up when Ray, Denny, and Bruiser plot to remove the police officers from the picture. Barbiere and Santos take the opportunity to introduce Tiger Bomb, a hero who has been put out of business by the Supers, but who also wants revenge on the people killing them. His outfit is downright hilarious! He is equipped with combat boots and a blue and orange striped tiger suit. Adam Metcalfe’s color choices for Tiger Bomb in the combat scenes are splendid. It gives the reader the impression his suit camouflages him, switching from blue and orange to yellow and blue and even to orange and black. Santos and Metcalfe do a fantastic job with the action scene evoking rage, terror, revenge, and hopelessness in a complete and utter beat down! However, there was one minor art issue where Ray appears to be channeling Kitty Pryde and walking through the side of an apartment building.
Barbiere’s biggest reveal comes when he returns to the 2012 timeline, a fact the reader may miss since the time jumps are still a little confusing especially when Letterer Ed Dukeshire fails to put them in after the initial switch. Ray’s original downfall is finally revealed. A Super single-handedly undoes Ray’s entire life revoking his medical examiner’s license and publicly humiliating him, but this sets up the final issue of the arc where Ray’s history will come full circle.
Is It Good?
This is the best of the series. Barbiere weaves a wonderful story with tons of foreshadowing that intertwines both timelines seamlessly (once the reader figures out the timeline transitions have been made). Victor Santos and Adam Metcalfe once again draw a beautiful book evoking a range of emotions both in the characters but also in the reader.