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"Manor Black #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Dark Horse Comics

Manor Black 1 00

Written by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 31st, 2019

Review:

As the aged patriarch Roman Black prepares to shuffle off this mortal coil, his sinister children begin to fight over who will take control of Manor Black. After all he's done in his nearly two hundred years on this earth, is this what his legacy will look like? Perhaps hope lies in the hands of a young mage named Ari. Maybe this is how Roman breaks the mold and makes his mark on the world...or everything comes down in flames.

If I had to use one word to describe Manor Black, it would be “unsettling.” There's a constant sense of foreboding throughout every page. It does not let up, even for a moment. You might think you have a second to catch your breath as Roman makes is way through his vast mansion, but it's really just caught in your throat as you're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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Much of this is attributable to artist Tyler Crook and his unparalleled style. He brings about a variety of levels of terror, from the subtle to the outright horrifying. For example, the opening pages of Manor Black have Ari in a van with a few others on the run. This is a tense way to stat a comic and it only gets more so when they turn a corner and see a creepy masked man standing in the road.

This comes as a shock, as we're not really sure what the rules are for Manor Black yet. What kind of horrors and monsters are in store for us? How will they work with one another? Each turn of the page brings us closer to figuring that out, by pulling us deeper and deeper into this frightening mystery.

Another great example of this comes when Roman visits a large hour glass, presumably filled with blood. He's literally watching his life drain away. Crook captures this feeling of sadness and regret as Roman looks at it. We instantly understand how long he's been at work and how little time he has left to make a difference.

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The thing is, what kind of difference will Roman look for? Is he an evil sorcerer? Or a benevolent one? We're still figuring him out. Writers Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt keep us guessing, especially after we see what's in the room behind the hour glass.

Manor Black isn't all about dark sorcerers. There's a human perspective too and that shows us just how unusual and disturbing this story can get. The local Sheriff just got the case of his life and he's entirely unprepared for what's in store for him and the rest of the department.

Manor Black is tailor made for fans of Harrow County and The Sixth Gun. That makes sense, of course, because those books are made by the same creative team. This serves as a spiritual successor, particularly to Harrow County, with a similar look and feel. Most of all, it delivers some of my favorite kinds of horror. It's the kind that seeps into your skin, making you uncomfortable to turn the page, but forcing you to go on.

Grades:

Story: Fivestars Manor Black 1 Small
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Art: Fivestars
Overall: Fivestars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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