Greg Rucka has been known for writing strong female protagonists throughout his bibliography, and yet, while reading his Rebirth run on Wonder Woman during the year of the Wonder Woman movie, he didn’t do justice towards the Amazon princess. However, during that run, he did reunite with artist Nicola Scott, and both are responsible for the Image creator-owned series Black Magick, which has brought out the best in the two creators. Following their time at DC, Rucka and Scott return to the world of noir meets witchcraft.
In the city of Portsmouth, Rowan Black continues with her dual life as a homicide detective and a witch. However, forces have aligned to draw Rowan out of the shadows, including the ancient society of witch-hunters known as Aira, while a demonic presence has even worse plans towards her.
While the initial volume raised a lot of questions, some of which do get answered here, it still feels like Rucka is playing the long game as the ongoing case of Bruce Dundridge’s murder takes center stage and has now become the least interesting aspect of the narrative. However, this subplot does show the crumbling relationship between Rowan and her police partner Morgan as they’re getting to the point of not being on speaking terms, despite certain feelings they may have for one another.
The biggest treat of this volume is the greater exploration of witchcraft and what it means for Rowan’s arc as the opening issue showcases her childhood where she is appointed as the newest member in the Wiccan community of Portsmouth where she revisits the tragic fates of her past lives. Not only does this arc give context into her backstory and how she is defined by tragedy, but it also opens the door for the chance of Rowan being a greater threat towards her friends and family, as her lifelong friend Alex suggests.
Despite the sense of dread that plays throughout these six issues, there is still room for humor, and Rucka delivers some snappy dialogue, largely for Alex, who confronts two members of Aira. Although there still isn’t much revealed about this organization, especially given they are using magic to hunt down witches, there is a fun contrasting nature between the two members, including Laurent Leveque, who gets the most interaction with Alex and although they do butt heads, they end up on the same page in terms of the greater threat approaching.
Continuing her black and white illustrations (with a hint of color), none more can be said about Nicola Scott’s art — Black Magick remains as one of the most visually stunning comics ever produced. With a greater emphasis on the supernatural, Scott knows how to draw horror with appearances from demonic figures blending in our everyday environments, creating sequences that send a chill down your spine.
It may take a while to kick in, but Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott continue to do their best work with Black Magick. In Vol. 2, we’re delving deeper into the mystery while creating new questions and dynamics to keep us excited for what’s to come.