BLACK MAGICK #6 shows Rowan coming into her powers at 13 and the pain it causes her. Greg Rucka weaves a tale of mystery and angst, while Nicola Scott's stark artwork is a major highlight.
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BLACK MAGICK #6 starts with one of childhood’s greatest magics — a birthday party. However, an air of mystery and suspense hangs over it. The issue moves through the mortal world into one of pagan magic and witchcraft, where there is suffering for everything gained. In other words, it’s not that much different from being a teenager.

Coming of Age

Rowan turns 13, and her mother and grandmother know her awakening as a witch is at hand. Both worry about what she will experience, but they dutifully take her to a ceremony. The drive functions as a gateway to Rowan’s character. She expresses some unhappiness at not being able to share this experience with her friends. However, she also shows enough maturity to know most of them couldn’t handle it. Writer Greg Rucka demonstrates a unique balance between childhood and adulthood in this short declaration. It’s an important piece of character that helps define her later on.

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The family emerges into a riverside clearing, and I have to pause to compliment Nicola Scott’s art. Scott illustrates the issue in watercolors that look like pencil. However, the style fits the story perfectly. The book gives off a classic air as if it’s from an older, more artistic time. The general lack of color causes more focus on expression and character design, which compliments the story instead of distracts from it. The few instances of color stand out even more as a result.

Courtesy of IMAGE Comics

Centuries of Angst

Rowan recites her pledge (which makes the whole thing feel oddly like a bat mitzvah) and is submerged in the sacred pool. This is a unique ritual to watch, though I was somewhat perturbed by the depictions of a naked 13-year-old. Rowan experiences all the memories of her past lives, including all their pain and death.  Consequently, Rowan’s actions only spiral downward as time goes one.

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Courtesy of Image Comics

The ceremony works as a metaphor for many kinds of mental struggle but mostly resembles PTSD and depression. Rowan experiences a traumatic encounter. As a result, she lets her fear of unknown forces bring her into a state of fear and anger. We see her acting out, cutting her hair, and refusing to get out of bed. There are touches of both disorders in her behavior. We feel more sympathy for her as a result.  It makes it more reassuring when her mother relates her own experiences. Rowan isn’t entirely convinced, but her mother’s words seem to lift up her spirits a bit. Unfortunately, this precedes a tragic ending that will test Rowan in times to come.

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Last Rites for BLACK MAGICK #6

BLACK MAGICK #6 is a strong story with plenty to hook the reader. It is odd to see a story that seems like an origin as issue #6, but it tells the tale well. Rowan garners sympathy quickly. Her spiral feels like a teen going through depression, and it’s easy to see why. We are left with plenty of questions about Rowan’s future. BLACK MAGICK is clearly a good spell.

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