‘Blackcross #1’ Comic Review
Blackcross is a spin-off of Project Superpowers, the series featuring nearly every public domain superhero ever. It focuses on the titular town of Blackcross, where strange happenings are afoot. A man sets himself on fire while speaking to a voice inside his head and walks into a lake only to have the lake catch fire. A serial killer kills their way toward town. A female fortuneteller has strange visions of superheroes. A man in witness protection has dreams of being a superhero. All of these weird events are leaving the authorities confused and out of their depth while everything seems to be on a collision course with the small Washington state town.
Warren Ellis is one of my favorite writers in all of comics. He’s been producing some really amazing work lately with Trees and Supreme Blue Rose that I cannot recommend highly enough. In the first issue of Blackcross, he’s not giving us much more besides setup of this neo-noir superhero story as far as the plotting goes, but he does a wonderful job building characters along the way. Sure, some of them get more love than others. The two main characters, Lady Satan (the fortuneteller) and Bob Stewart (the man having dreams of the Black Terror), are set up pretty well. Still, the entire cast has a moment or two. He presents an interesting common theme of characters stuck in lives they didn’t ask for, then only to be stalked by stranger and greater possibilities. It will be interesting to see how all of these plotlines converge.
Colton Worley adds his neo-noir style to the proceedings on the art side of things. His gritty pulp style really works in this book, whether it’s playing to type with darker, nighttime settings or if it’s used to juxtapose the mood with the setting during the daylight scenes. If I were to describe his style it would probably be like putting Alex Maleev and Michael Lark in a blender and getting an awesome art smoothie. Worley makes great use of space, emotion, and panel layouts. Transitions from scene to scene remind me of something I might see in a film that creates a sense of continuity and rhythm to its narrative. Morgan Hickman colors the proceedings, expertly helping to add to the mood Worley creates.
This is a great first issue of a mini-series. There’s a mystery to hook new readers and characters that are interesting and feel “lived in.” The art is great to look at and fits the story really well. The only thing I can really say against this book is, it is a first issue. This is clearly only the beginning of a story. Don’t hope for a complete tale here. If you’re willing to give Warren Ellis the benefit of the doubt, though, this should be worth coming back for the rest of the series.