Radiant Yellow takes center stage, and he knew I was going to say that… Your Major Spoilers review of Radiant Black #18 from Image Comics awaits!
RADIANT BLACK #18
Writer: Kyle Higgins & Lawrence Holmes
Artist: Stefano Simeone
Colorist: Stefano Simeone
Letterer: Becca Carey
Editor: Michael Busuttil
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 21, 2022
Previously in Radiant Black: It’s 1979. Wendell George graduates from Purdue with a degree in engineering and plans for the future.
It’s 2020. Wendell George discovers a cosmic artifact in a donut shop.
It’s 2023. Everything has fallen apart.
THERE IS CONFLICT IN YOUR FUTURE
Ever since Wendell’s debut as Radiant Yellow, it’s been clear that there’s more to his precognitive powers than it seems. This issue takes place over four time frames, each separated by 18 years. Simultaneously, we see young newlywed Wendell getting his first job out of school, the day of his daughter’s eighteenth birthday, the day when he discovered his Radiant and a future wasteland of 2038. The parallels of these four eras are really well-done, and each successive page reveals new secrets, as his management career starts and ends, his marriage dissolves while his grand-daughter video chats while the strange power source glows in the back room while he fights for his life in a ruined hell-scape. Past and future collide as 2038 Wendell confronts his robot benefactor, but in 2020 he views past, present and future all at once…
…and realizes that he has to change the future.
THERE IS CHANGE IN YOUR PAST
I’ve been a fan of Radiant Black since the beginning, but I still find the surprises, twists, and turns of it all to be fascinating. The use of four-tiered panels in this issue gives the impression of contiguous film strips, only to have everything melt together at the moment where Wendell is empowered by the Radiant. In a genre where we’ve seen tons of #TimeTravelShenanigans, characters who have seen the future and even the Ur-example of Doctor Manhattan’s perception, I really enjoy that Higgins and Simeone found a new way to present the material. The art throughout the issue is unlike what we’ve seen before, giving Wendell’s world it’s own POV, one whose rougher edges and stylized figures feel perfectly appropriate to what we know of his character. Best of all, the story doesn’t seem to prove or disprove Radiant Yellow’s worry that past, present, and future are all fixed points, immovable and unable to be changed, no matter how he tries.
BOTTOM LINE: WELL-DONE
All in all, Radiant Black #18 gives us a lovely blend of the familiar and the creatively new, with an interesting change in art style that feels organic to the POV character and new story elements to ruin everything, boiling down to a pretty excellent 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. My usual Radiant Black cry that you’re missing out on something unique returns here, but also you can see the me of 18 months ago and the me of 2023 yelling at you, as well.
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RADIANT BLACK #18
The first deep-dive into Radiant Yellow's world shows us an entirely different perspective than Red, Pink, or the Radiant Blacks, but it's one that is both creative and a great read.