Here’s another comic book I read for Wyrd & Wonder waaay back in May. I think it was on the recommendations shelf of the comic bookshop I frequent, and it was that and the synopsis that got me interested.
Manor Black, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt, illus. by Tyler Crook
From the creators of Harrow County and The Sixth Gun comes this gothic horror fantasy about a family of sorcerers in crisis.
Roman Black is the moribund patriarch of a family of powerful sorcerers. As his wicked and corrupt children fight over who will take the reins of Manor Black and representative of the black arts, Roman adopts a young mage who he gifts his powers to with the hope that someone good will take his place against the evil forces out to bring down his family and legacy. (Goodreads)
Because this is a story about magicians, I went in thinking it was solely fantasy-based, despite the horror vibe the cover gives off what with the black and red colors and the style of the typography for the title, which makes me think of slasher films.
I’d call Manor Black supernatural horror. It’s about a family of powerful blood sorcerers whose moribund patriarch — Roman Black — seems indecisive about which of his three children to hand over the helm of Manor Black to. Reginald, who seems to be the eldest, believes it’s his right to hold the helm, but Roman does not have much confidence in his son. However, when a young Black woman named Ari stumbles upon his property when outrunning pursuers, Roman offers her blood protection. Realizing that she is the last of her house of fire sorcerers, Roman offers to help Ari locate her house’s totem, which is wreaking havoc on the town by causing people to spontaneously combust, and control her powers. Of course, Roman’s children (or maybe just Reginald) are not happy to see an outsider possibly steal their inheritance.
It’s not a strong start, but it has my attention and I hope the next volume will be stronger. It’s just that the characters didn’t stand out much and the plot wasn’t that appealing, but what held my interest and makes me willing to read more in this series are the bits of mystery: Who is the weird electrical mummy working with, and how conniving will Roman’s children become to gain the helm of Manor Black? I’d also like to know more about the magical systems and the need for a magician to belong to a “house” or group of magicians to control their powers.
So although this wasn’t an impressive beginning, I believe it has a lot of potential, so I’ll pick up the next volume whenever it comes out.
It’s not a style I like, unfortunately, which turned me off at first. However, it grew on me as I read and then I began to appreciate how well it fits the eerie tone of the story. I love that the volume I read includes notes from the illustrator, Tyler Crook, in the back about his process and artistic decisions. It’s there that I learned he used a mix of watercolor, colored inks, and color pencils for this comic.
Although the result of this mix didn’t initially appeal to me, I find myself liking it the more I look at it, lol. I just like how the colors blend in and out of each other in certain scenes. I also like the effect of the colors bleeding out of and into other panels, although I think Crook mentions in his notes that doing so got confusing at times because it’s hard to tell how the page would read. Still, I think the effect was pretty cool because it made me think of paint bleeding off the page and being uncontained, which fits the events in the panels where this style is used because I think the actions in those panels were chaotic or featured a frantic character.
An unimpressive beginning, but I’m curious about what might be going on and what will come next.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
You can read the first issue for free here.