17th Feb2021

‘Radiant Black #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Kyle Higgins | Art by Marcelo Costa | Published by Image Comics

Never underestimate the power of a good cover. I know it’s a little shallow of me, but to this day I literally buy some comics purely for the covers. I’ve bought comics in the past where I don’t really like the creative team inside or even the featured characters, but its behind a cover that I like so take my money. The reason I am just about to review Radiant Black is because the cover caught my eye. Bright colours, showcasing a new, interesting looking character, nice title, that’ll do. I know Kyle Higgins mainly from his DC stuff, which was solid, and Costa from the odd Power Rangers book I’ve picked up here and there, so a decent creative team in there as well. Let’s take a look.

We start with I guess the hero of the book, Nathan Burnett, a writer struggling with debt and making ends meet as an uber driver. Turns out it’s all just too much and he does what any grown up man does when things turn bad. Goes home to Mum. Nathan returns, tail between his legs, to Lockport, Illinois ‘temporarily’. Nathan’s old friend Marshall takes him out to drown his sorrows, all nice scene setting stuff. Nathan’s a decent guy, just one of life’s optimists. The better stuff is always just down the road, you just have to get there. Several beers later, time to go, and then things take a strange turn.

Hanging in the air, bizarrely, is a sort of mini black hole. Nathan takes the plunge and tries to touch it. It then attaches itself to his arm, seemingly grafting on to him as a sort of covering. Battle suit? armour? Whatever it is, it’s pretty snazzy looking. As well as that, it seemingly comes with a nice set of powers, as a run in with a speeding train reveals. It also comes with the power of flight. This whole bit, and the interaction between Nathan and Marshall, reminds me of that part in the Shazam movie where they are testing Billy’s powers. As the guys talk over what the hell just happened, Nathan realises he’s not sure how the helmet even comes off. Hmm, time for a bit of claustrophobia to set in…. Turns out, though, if you ‘think’ it away, it disappears. Which is handy.

Think Nathan is happy with this turn of events? Let’s just say mixed feelings. He thinks he’s a bit of a screw up anyway, so is worried he’d just be a screw up as a superhero. Why him? Is it a sort of Green Lantern deal where the ‘black hole’ chose him? Was it random? Should it have been Marshall instead? What we do know is Nathan is in an even worse situation than he lets on. He is in such massive debt because his writing career pretty much ended when it seems he hit that writers block wall. His promising career just drifted away, and he lacked the strength to pull it all back together. Seems he’s been lying to himself as much as to his parents and friends. Anyway, onwards and upwards. Now, he’ a bona fide superhero where he can make a genuine difference in the world, a one-off.

Actually, not quite true. As Nathan ponders over his next step, a robbery is underway in Chicago, and the person committing that robbery is wearing a suit that looks an awful lot like Nathan’s….
This was a fun book. I liked the setup, I liked the characters, I liked the suit, I liked the writing and I enjoyed the art. This had a definite Power Rangers/ Ultraman vibe to it, tapping into the sort of superheroing Robert Kirkman writes. Perhaps a little too ‘all ages’ for some, but for me that was part of the charm. It is a book both myself and my kids could read, and I always regard that as a plus.

There’s plenty of mileage here in character and plot, and I look forward to exploring that too. Higgins did a great job on the script, and I really liked the clean lines of the art throughout. The pacing of the layouts was great, smaller more intimate panels for character scenes, larger panels and full page spreads for the more action orientated stuff.

Maybe Nathan is soon to be a winner after all. The book certainly is.

**** 4/5

Radiant Black #1 is out now from Image Comics.

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