SPOILERS BELOW FOR ISSUE #1
The second issue of Manor Black starts off with Ari, who survived a brutal car accident in issue #1, in a dream sequence, holding onto one of her deceased friends just after the accident. After a strange conversation, she rushes out of the van to locate her totem. Instead of finding it, she meets The Stranger who chases her into the woods. Roman Black appears to her and again offers her protection. But, she may need protection from his family who believes her presence to be a threat to their birthright.
In the meantime, the newly appointed Sheriff Washington is investigating the strange car accident, all while trying to stay calm in the wake of his predecessor’s death (where he burst into flames). The more he learns, the more it confuses the investigation, and there is more mystery and tragedy to come. Will he ever have enough information to help save the members of his community?
Writers Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have their work carved out for them with only four issues in the Manor Black series. Packing in a story as well rounded and frightening as Bunn’s previous works may seem daunting, but the team manages to pull it off again in this 24-page issue. The main characters are solidified, all with flaws and issues of their own. The reader may gravitate toward wanting to hate Roman Black, but even with his motives being suspect, he provides safe haven for young, but stubborn, Ari who desperately needs it. It’s hard not to fall in love with Sheriff Washington and feel for him all the same. His naivete does well for his character, and he’s easy to root for. With the ins and outs of magic in a small town, creepy antagonists, fast-paced action, and even a bit of humor, Bunn and Hurtt have put together an amazing feat of storytelling.
Artist Tyler Crook continues to shine, as well. His ability to go bold when needed, yet restrained from doing too much, stems from pure talent and the instinct for horror. I can’t quite imagine any other artist doing this series justice. His art brings the characters to life, so much so that they burst with personality and emotion. It’s quite easy to connect with characters who are so well drawn and so full of soul. The Stranger earns the bragging rights as one of the creepiest people/monsters (?) I’ve seen in some time. Roman Black is also created with an eerie edge, one that makes the reader second guess everything he does.
At the halfway point in the four-issue series and with this exceptionally talented team at the helm, it’s anyone’s guess where the story could end up going. I’m just grateful to be along for the ride.
Creative Team: Writers – Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt; Artist, Colorist, and Cover – Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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