BLACKWOOD #1 by Evan Dorkin – review
BLACKWOOD #1 by Evan Dorkin and Veronica & Andy Fish – review
WRITER Evan Dorkin
ARTIST Veronica Fish
LAYOUTS & LETTERER Andy Fish
STANDARD COVER ARTIST Veronica Fish
VARIANT COVER ARTIST Becky Cloonan
Dark Horse Comics, Issue #1 of 4 ; release date May 23, 2018.
I’ve long been a fan of THE ONION and comics strips like RED MEAT : FROM THE SECRET FILES OF MAX CANNON and MILK & CHEESE from Evan Dorkin. Dorkin has gone on to win Eisners in a variety of comic book genres, including a 2010 award for Best Publication for Teens, i.e., for BEASTS OF BURDEN with Jill Thompson and a 2015 award for Best Single Issue for BEASTS OF BURDEN : HUNTERS AND GATHERERS.
With Dorkin’s new series BLACKWOOD, he’s once again in teen territory. A group of marginal university students from diverse backgrounds are recruited into the Blackwood “alternative college,” where they assemble and begin to bond. Eventually, some character back-story is presented, and the students evince some psychic sensitivities. Meanwhile, the school’s president is involved in raising occult horrors, and we are also shown footage of a professor-type guy raving madly in front a blackboard, which was decorated with art like the great pantacle of Enochian magic. These plot threads come together when the new Blackwood students are attacked by a monster.
I hate to say it, but these kinds of YA supernatural hero academy stories have flooded the comics market lately, and there’s nothing to distinguish BLACKWOOD from any other such story. In fact, BLACKWOOD could stand as a textbook example for the hero academy genre, which has come to feel as highly standardized and rigidly structured as the romance market. One example of what I mean is the use of stock characters in BLACKWOOD, e.g., the angry Goth girl Wren Valentine. I didn’t find any of the characters engaging, and the dialogue was too boring to even be vapid. By the time the monster attacked, I was rooting for the monster.
The art is as generic as the story, and there’s really nothing anywhere in the book that catches the eye. Perspective and proportion are clumsy and second-rate, and even the faces have a sameness about them. Worst of all, the monster was nothing but a vague tangle of tentacles. The only exception is the color work, which is actually pretty good.
For all of these reasons, I can’t really recommend BLACKWOOD to anyone, not even fans of Evan Dorkin like me.
OVERALL 2.5 out of 5