Publisher: Boom Studios
Story: Frank J. Barbiere
Pencils: Victor Santos
Colours: Adam Metcalfe
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Review by Patrick McAleer
The concept underpinning this new 4 part miniseries from boom Studios is such a delightfully dark twist on the superhero genre that it leaves you kicking yourself for not having thought of it first. Set in a world where the first heroes were just ordinary people who had enough with the rampant crime, these ordinary human pioneers were later replaced by ‘The Supers’ – proper superheroes, each with ‘enough power to level a football stadium’. Crime was cleaned up after which the Supers were apparently treated as gods by half of humanity. As for the other half? Well…
Centered around an average every-man by the name of Raymond Willis, Black Market doesn’t just deliver action, there’s also a healthy dose of pathos in these pages too. We witness the struggle that Ray’s life has become as he tries his best to care for his seriously ill wife. It is this vulnerability that Ray’s brother seeks to exploit (along with Ray’s expertise as a former medical examiner) as he spots a gap in the market for superhero DNA. Good men may be forced to do bad things with the best intentions, but the cliffhanger this first issue ends on shows things may be about to get worse than Ray first imagined.
Such a dark concept needs evocative artwork to do it justice, and here Victor Santos doesn’t disappoint. His mix of thick and thin line-work allows his protagonists very detailed, expressive faces, and his inventive panel layouts help emphasise the ‘heist’ nature of this first issue. With the excellent colour scheme from Adam Metcalfe, this book exudes a grimy noirish tone in parts, whilst delivering that visceral thrill in the action scenes. Taken as a whole, Black Market #1 is one of those rare first issues that you immediately want to go back and re-read. Working as a dark twist on the comic book medium’s most famous genre, but also as a meditation on the limits men might go to in order to help those they love, Black Market hits the right notes on many different levels.
Patrick is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @RepStones.