Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
Artist: Victor Santos
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
There was a time when heroes were everyday people. Sometimes they were your neighbor and other times they were the police officers and firefighters. They did things to help others without a second thought; at least that’s how we tend to define heroes in today’s society. What happens when some of those people exhibit super powers and start dressing in costumes? You end up with a lot of people wanting to know more about how you came to have powers. People wanting to know how this can benefit them because, as a whole, we have some selfish tendencies. This is were Raymond Willis comes into the story. Ray is not a superhero, but he does know the body inside and out. He gained this knowledge while learning the art of embalming. He made a living this way until his estranged brother makes him an offer that involves the superheroes and government funding. One that would allow him to take care of the woman he loves and possibly find a cure for her ailment.
As the story progresses I find myself wanting to know more, which makes Frank J. Barbiere giving us quite a bit of information in this issue a great thing. We have a setup that allows for easy reading throughout the mini-series. While I like that Barbiere gave us so much information to work with, it does make the text feel a little wordy in places. The counter to that is that some pages have very little text and the emphasis is placed on the art. That being said, my biggest complaint about the story and art is a lack of consistency with time-stamping. We see dates mentioned to signify the current events and a flashback towards the beginning. However, there’s no date letting us know when we’re back to present day in the story. You just have to figure it out on your own. Victor Santos doesn’t do anything with the art to differentiate the flashback from the rest of the story either.
Aside from that complaint, Santos does some interesting things with the panel layouts. Some of the layouts remind me of the scattered effect you get when you toss photos onto a flat surface. It adds an element of interest that I enjoy. I like that he decided to venture away from having all the panels perpendicular to each other as well. Those little changes in some of the panels still allow the story to flow without any difficulty. Santos also uses some of the insets to add emphasis to the the story. They give us close up views of things that are happening, more detail to the scene. Looking deeper into the panels he has drawn very expressive characters. You have no doubts what Ray or any of the others are feeling at any given moment in the story. The art also hints at the location of this story taking place in a bustling metropolis without it being said in the text. This could easily be taking place in any city around the world.
Barbiere and Santos worked well together in creating something that is unique in the way of superhero stories. This mini-series will be fun to read as it continues on. While I do have issues when it comes to the flashbacks in this one, the unexpected plot makes up for it. I expected the story to take one route, but it took a completely different one that left me surprised. This story has definitely piqued my interest, and I’m sure it will do the same for others.
“Black Market #1” earns 7/10