It’s always interesting to read a superhero comic not published by the “big two”. They have such a foothold in the genre, it’s hard to not compare what else is released to them. There’s been some success from indie and small press publishers but generally, few have come close to matching the classic formula. Radiant Black #1 kicks off a new superhero adventure and the result is… ok.
Writer Kyle Higgins brings something personal to the world of Radiant Black. The debut issue introduces us to Nathan, a failed writer deep in debt who is forced to move back in with his parents. Back in his home town, he stumbles upon a mysterious object during a night of drinking that covers him in a powerful suit.
Radiant Black #1 is a bit mix in the end. While it shows a lot of potential, the comic doesn’t quite have the magic, excitement, or hook to really create that memorable origin. It’s not bad at all but it also doesn’t excite. Higgins delivers us a relatable character in Nathan but also a depressing lead to start.
Nathan has failed as a writer and is tens of thousands of dollars in debt. It’s something many can relate to but it’s a reminder that we can relate to that. It removes that escapist quality delivering a sad, depressing lead. The “discovery” moment of Nathan’s new powers also doesn’t have that spark. It happens and then he gets into an argument with his friend along for the journey. There’s never any point of excitement or glee from Nathan, he’s the hero you want to punch for being a sourpuss.
And that’s possibly part of the point of it all. Higgins states in his letters page this is a personal character to him. It’s possible in Nathan and Radiant Black #1 he delivers a character that’s more “him” than anything he’s written yet. But, that more grounded take on the hero has implications on the escapist nature of the superhero genre.
The art by Marcelo Costa is solid. Joined by letterer Becca Carey, the comic and characters have a great design to it all. Despite the rather depressing nature of Nathan, the comic itself never drags down. The colors pop on the page and when big moments arrive, they stand out visually due to the comic delivering more of a “slice of life” up to that point. The comic has a look and style that reminds me a bit of Invincible, another superhero comic published by Image and Skybound. Overall, it looks good but like the story itself, never quite has memorable visuals.
Radiant Black #1 is an ok debut. Hopefully, it’s the start of something greater but on its own, it never quite stands out. While it features solid writing, relatable characters, and really nice art, it also never quite stands out with bigger than life moments or characters. It’s muted in a way and hopefully, it gets past that as the series progresses.
Story: Kyle Higgins Art: Marcelo Costa Letterer: Becca Carey
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW