Written by Evan Dorkin
Art by Veronica and Andy Fish
Letters by Andy Fish
Let this review begin with a confession: I’ve never been much for supernatural horror. My threshold for being scared was pretty low when I was growing up, and it’s only within the last dozen years or so that I’ve come to enjoy watching scary movies of any kind. While I’ve read comics with elements of the genre in them before, Blackwood #1 is my first full-on horror comic. If all of them are as good as this one, I’ve clearly been missing out.
While the lion’s-share of this issue is setup for the series, writer Evan Dorkin does a great job of establishing the characters and the setting in an organic way. A few tense sequences kick things off, teasing the forces that are at work, before the protagonists of the issue are introduced. The cast is large, with four characters taking the focus and a handful of other side/background characters, and Dorkin introduces them all clearly, their personalities coming through and feeling well-defined. Having that base of characterization in place makes the story even stronger once weird things start happening and the reader gets to see how they all react to it.
As good as the writing is, it’s the art by the team of Veronica and Andy Fish that really draws the reader in. Andy Fish contributes layouts and lettering, while Veronica Fish provides the finished art and colors for the issue, and the team works together exceedingly well. The storytelling on display on each page is strong, and the characters are distinct and have their own clearly-defined styles. Veronica Fish delivers some truly frightening finished imagery, and she uses color to great effect as a way to transition the reader from the “normal” activity of the issue into the spookier elements. From the beginning the combination of writing and art establishes an overall mood of underlying tension that only grows as the issue progresses.
Blackwood #1 is an excellent comic, and a entertaining start for the miniseries. It reminded this reviewer a little of the late lamented Gotham Academy series from DC, but Blackwood goes harder into the horror aspect of things than that all-ages series ever did. Dorkin, Fish, and Fish are at the top of their game here. As far as first forays into horror comics go, I could have done a whole lot worse.
Joe Grunenwald is a writer and editor living in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taller than a lot of people but not as tall as some people.