Nathan’s life looks a lot like other struggling 20-somethings these days: falling further behind on bills forces him to move to his childhood home, facing the crushing guilt and shame of a dream unfulfilled. This all changes when he discovers a miniaturized black hole granting him the powers, and supersuit, of Radiant Black!
Part Power Rangers-pastiche, part-reflections on hardships of adulthood, Radiant Black is writer Kyle Higgins’ spin on the classic “superpowered young adult” archetype. Joined by artist Marcelo Costa, these first six issues introduce us to Radiant Black, or rather Nathan, and his geekdom-obsessed friend Marshall. They have to not only keep Nathan’s new powers secret but also contend with local police, falling buildings, and other empowered people like bank robber Radiant Red.
Kyle Higgins is no stranger to the multi-colored hero drama. With credentials including both Nightwing and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it’s clear he understands the flights and tights as well as the drama of young adulthood. This understanding of what makes a good dramatic supe book shows in Radiant Black, but it also allows for Higgins to make bigger swings with life-and-death scenarios, as he is not working on an established property.
Marcelo Costa’s art reminds me of Ryan Ottley, of Invincible fame, when it comes to character faces, but the resemblance to the art pretty much ends there. My favorite bits of art come in issue five, as Radiant Black and Radiant Red clash and their powers create these elaborate weapons and explosions. If you grew up reading comics or watching the TV shows the creative team is riffing on here, then you’ll likely enjoy the series.
I would recommend this comic for purchase for a library collection. Both adults and young adults who have grown up with similar material will appreciate the series and both sides of Nathan’s story. Every issue of the first volume sold out in comic stores and that was during the start of the pandemic! Because of the focus on being in debt, depictions of drunkenness, and some of the personal interactions, I would recommend this for an adult graphic novel collection, not for young adults or kids. Image Comics rated it teen plus, or 16 and up, which is a fine rating, except that most libraries break collections into children, teen, and adult collections. This volume contains issues 1-6 of the ongoing series.
Radiant Black, Vol. 1: (Not So) Secret Origin
By Kyle Higgins
Art by Marcelo Costa
Publisher Age Rating: 16+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)