Black Cloak #1
Before I say anything else I recommend giving it a try if you haven't already!
Black Cloak #1 is a great first issue, especially given the decently expanded page count for only $4.99, there's a lot of grounded covered here but it doesn't ever feel too bloated, overwhelming or generally like it's too much. I thought it was a nice balance of establishing the world, the characters, and the main plot thread(s) this first arc at least will be following.
As of this article going live it will be out tomorrow, Wednesday 1st March, but this comes up in my Joe Talks Comics podcast interview with Kelly and Meredith. One element I particularly liked is all the casual world-building and character backstory dropped and weaved into the story through various lines of dialogue.
It creates a satisfying puzzle that's gradually filled in and put together as you read the issue and realise what the dialogue is referring to, both in terms of aspects of this new world we're discovering as readers and the main characters, their own backstories, relationships and dynamics, and how they fit into this larger world being created.
Then I hadn't heard of Meredith McClaren before this, but I enjoyed seeing their art for my first time here and how it brought this world and its characters to life. I love the contrast within it, where it's got a very animated style and ethereal atmosphere to it, and yet there's lots of solid, distinct outlines on the characters, settings and everything else. There's a warm, soothing vibrancy to the whole thing. Like I just mentioned everything is very lined and definite, but in such a soft and fluid way with the colors, as opposed to something hard, rough and jarring. It's really intriguing and exciting to me.
We also talk in that interview about blurring the lines between sci-fi and fantasy, how there shouldn't be such firm lines between them, and that's something that I feel comes through both with this art, and just with this comic in general. I also think the lettering by Becca Carey conveys this exceptionally well. Everything I just mentioned comes through for me with the font used. The location tags are such clean design features to inform the reader in a practical convenient way, and I can't think how to compliment the lettering other than I think the font is perfect for the style and atmosphere this comic is going for. It's creative, it's stylish, it just works! Becca is doing just as exceptional work over at Radiant Black, so it's so great to see her elsewhere as well.
Pick this up and give it a try if you haven't already.
Black Cloak #2
Then onto Black Cloak Issue 2, having already read it back when #1 came out before mine and Mighty Lee's Comics's interview with Kelly and Meredith, I was excited to revisit this now it's out, to refresh my memory so I could write this review.
As much as I liked #1 in some ways I enjoyed this issue more. The shorter page count meant the pacing felt tighter, again as much as I enjoyed the nice balance of world building, character introductions and story progression in the first issue it was good to carry on the main heart of the plot here.
There's not too much that happens, but what does happen feels effective. It nicely resolves the cliffhanger to #1 and sets up #3 in an exciting and intriguing way. I loved the double splash page of the interviews, and there was one line of dialogue before the flashback here that broke me. Oof. That was rough.
That said I loved how the art changed accordingly for the flashback, that was a cool detail, and something that comes up in the interview, so listen to that on Wednesday 1st March when it drops if you want! Anyway I digress. I continue to love the mixture of solid, rigid clear lines with vibrant, whimsical coloring
that feels like such a perfect and again intriguing combination, in some ways indicative potentially of the ideas of sci-fi and fantasy and how they combine, another point that gets brought up in the interview.
Overall a great second issue, with an awesome cover I love that. Very excited for more!
You can also find his podcast on Twitter @JoeTalksComics, which you can listen to through Anchor, where you can find links to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or you can click those hyperlinks directly.