The second volume of Black Magick is a slow-burn mystery. There is a lot going on and we are starting to get some answers, but there is much that we still don’t know. Black Magick is the story of Rowan Black, a police detective in Portsmouth. She rides a motorcycle, wears black, has a detective partner who she cares for and generally does her job well. She is also a witch. If it wasn’t clear in the first volume, someone is after Rowan. The big question is whether they are trying to frame her, possess her, blackmail her or kill her. Oh, and also who they are.

Black Magick, Vol. 2, begins with a look back at how Rowan learned she was a witch. As a teen, Rowan went through a ritual that revealed all of her past lives to her. As a witch, she is the sum of all these past lives and gains power from all of them. Rowan finds out that she is one of the oldest witches and has access to immense power. She struggles with this new knowledge for months and her mom and grandmother promise to shepherd her through it. But her mother dies in a car “accident” and the implication is that Rowan loses an important teacher because of this.

The story then jumps back to the present day where Rowan and her partner are investigating the death/self-immolation of the man they were pursuing from Volume One. The detectives confront another man who is so scared of Rowan that he pulls his gun and shoots his way out of a bar to get away from them. Rowan eventually has to shoot him to save others. Now two people have died in Rowan’s presence while saying crazy things and her partner wants answers. He is soon to be a dad, which adds stress to an already fraught interaction. This tension boils over at the end of the book, as multiple revelations occur and the reader learns more about who is really after Rowan.

Greg Rucka knows how to write stories about tough, damaged heroines. As in Batwoman and Stumptown; Black Magick presents a no-nonsense protagonist with complicated motivations and complex relationships to back up the main story. The pace of the story is slow, but I’m confident the payoff will be worth it in the long run. Nicola Scott’s art is gorgeous. Most of the book is in grays, drawn in pencil. Whenever magic takes place, we get a splash of color to represent the magic. Scott draws beautiful humans, but the women, for whatever reason, seem more ‘real’ than the men. Perhaps their expressions are better represented. Either way, the art is a feast for the eyes.

Black Magick is well worth adding to most adult graphic novel collections. There is considerable violence and the story deals with the occult. Most of the nudity is subtly hidden however. Rucka fans will definitely want to follow this story. After finishing Volume Two, I had the same feeling as I had after I read the first volume: I want the next chapter RIGHT NOW. That is the mark of compelling storytelling, I just hope the creators can tell the story in a timely manner.

Black Magick, vol. 2: Awakening II
by Greck Rucka
Art by Nicola Scott
ISBN: 9781534304833
Image, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: M

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  • Mark

    | He/Him Young Adult Librarian, Cedar Mill Library

    Reviewer

    Mark Richardson is the Young Adult Librarian at the Cedar Mill Library in Portland Oregon where he selects adult and young adult graphic novels, YA fiction & nonfiction, video games and adult music for the library. He also plans lots of activities for local teens ranging from art contests to teen trivia to Pokemon parties. If this sounds like a dream job, it is. Sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure he really gets to do all of this. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember and has been known to present an occasional conference sessions on graphic novels at the Oregon Library Association’s annual conference.

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