Image Comics is in the midst of its 25th anniversary celebration and they’ve apparently decided to live by the old adage “it’s better to give than to receive” because we, their audience, are getting all the gifts. On the heels of the divinely weird Curse Words (issue #3 out last week) by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne comes Black Cloud #1, which promises to be a magical mystery tour of the world of stories, an exploration of what they mean to us, and a meditation on what happens to them when they try to survive in the “real” world.
Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon share writing duties, drawing from fantasy, realism with a hint of the magical, and gangster noir, somehow managing to bring the three together for a magnificent start to what promises to be a remarkable book. Latour and Brandon spin the tale of a mysterious main character whose name is so respected no one will speak it but who is, outside of the fantastical realm, forced to live in poverty but who somehow manages to gain access to the highest echelons of privilege. There’s a monster whose very mention brings terror and a city mayor who is very willing to delve into magic provided it suits his purposes. I can see a million different ways the story might go and, in the hands of these two very capable gentlemen, I’m quite sure any of them will make for suspenseful, exciting, epic reading.
Greg Hinkle (art) and Matt Wilson (colors) have created a rich visual world with each setting having its own unique textures and color palettes. The pairings create palpable senses of atmosphere, tension, and emotion as our nameless heroine moves from world to world, encountering old friends, old nemeses, and a looming threat. It is also gorgeous as hell.
If you enjoy novels such as American Gods and Anansi Boys, and other Image books in the vein of Revival, Black Cloud #1 is firmly in your wheelhouse. It’s a great book if you’re looking to branch out from the big two and dig into comics as a medium (meta, right?) rather than variations on the superhero genre theme.
Also? There’s something really satisfying about laying down money on creator-owned books rather than simply feeding the machine (which I freely admit I continue to do), and I’m sort of tickled to be replacing a bunch of recently cancelled Marvel books with shiny, new Image toys.
Black Cloud #1 will be available tomorrow, 4-5. Pick it up. Add it to your list. Download it. You won’t be disappointed.