You’ve heard the urban legend of someone waking up in a bathtub full of ice missing a kidney that was taken and sold on the black market? What would happen if superheroes had to worry about that? The answer just may be found in Black Market #1, the new mini-series from Boom! Studios. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously in Black Market: Everything was normal. Then superheroes started showing up.
I’D LIKE SOME SUPER DNA PLEASE
Black Market’s premise was one that had me interested from the get go. Someone is stealing superhuman parts and selling to companies on the black market. The idea of regular people taking superheroes for nefarious purposes isn’t completely original, but Black Market succeeds in making for a fun, intriguing read.
The issue starts by describing what a hero really is and how someone can be one without superpowers. In fact, everyone is a hero. It’s a great opener and is a nice nod to the everyday people (police, firefighters, etc.) who put their lives on the line. Of course, superpowers show up and suddenly the everyday normal isn’t as important. Our lead, Ray, is a down on his luck guy working at a funeral home with dead bodies. His criminal brother shows up and the two clearly have a bad past but Denny presents Ray with an opportunity. A pharmaceutical company will pay big money for “Super DNA.” The possibilities are numerous, one being a cure for illness which appeals to Ray because his wife has MS. Denny being the stand-up guy he is kills the supers rather than letting them live.
The issue moves at a good pace and jumps back and forth in time. Even with the jumps, the story never gets confusing or loses momentum. Seeing how Ray and Denny pull off a job is clever and puts the opening in a different light. While the whole superhero aspect of the book is interesting, I’d say the best is Ray’s beginning monologue. There’s talk of respecting the dead and the living as well as taking the bleak things in life and making the most of what you’ve been dealt. It’s well written and Barbiere does a great job showing Ray’s bleakness, making him sympathetic. It makes all the more sense why he would agree to commit such crimes. Not everything works though. The reasoning for why and how super humans show up isn’t explained other than no one knows who or what they are. It comes across as a slight hand wave fix for something that is important to the story. With only four issues to tell his tale, Barbiere is limited to space but hopefully some light will be shone on the subject.
ONE MORE TIME WITH A LITTLE MORE DEPTH
Victor Santos’ style is a simple one, for lack of a better term. It reminds me of Chris Samnee, though not as refined. Lines are thick and the blacks are heavy with little shading. There’s a definite designer’s eye occurring in areas such as Ray’s living room where a lamp is only defined by its drop shadow. The problem is there is little depth and many things look flat, including people. Faces and bodies don’t quite adjust to perspective at times, lending an awkward look to scenes. In fact, almost everything not drawn straight on or in profile looks contorted. It could very well be intentional on Santos’ part but I didn’t like it and found it distracting.
BOTTOM LINE: LET’S SEE WHERE THE BLOOD FLOWS
Black Market #1 is a good start to a mini-series and offers up a cool concept. Ray is a great and sympathetic antagonist and Frank J. Barbiere writes his thoughts extremely well. The story maintains its pace and flow even with all the back and forth in time and ends with enough intrigue that I’ll read the next issue. Some plot points feel glossed over and the art didn’t work for me, but I’m interested in where this one goes. Check it out.