Sunday, February 7, 2021

REVIEW: Radiant Black #1

You’ve probably already read the article where I gushed about how excited I was for the new series from Power Rangers writer Kyle Higges. Now, the moment has come. Radiant Black has been hyped by the entire industry for months. Is it actually good or was Robert Kirkman wrong?

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of Radiant Black #1 courtesy of Image Comics.
Opinions are my own.

For fans of INVINCIBLE and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comes a brand-new ONGOING SERIES from acclaimed writer KYLE HIGGINS (Ultraman, C.O.W.L.) and artist MARCELO COSTA that reinvents superheroes for a new generation!Nathan Burnett has just turned thirty, and things aren’t great: He’s working (and failing) at two jobs, his credit card debt is piling up, and his only move…is moving back home with his parents. But when Nathan discovers and unlocks the ethereal, cosmic RADIANT, he's given the power to radically change his fortunes!There’s just one problem: The powers don’t belong to him. And the COSMIC BEINGS who created them want them any means necessary.

Radiant Black is a special kind of comic that comes along once a decade. On the surface, it’s a simple superhero comic made outside of corporate restrictions. But the deeper you dig, the morethis new series starts to shine.

This premiere issue is not only an origin story, it’s also rather small in scope. We’re not thrust into a big epic end of the world battle right off the bat. There’s no flash-forward prologue (I hate those.) It’s been compared to Invincible, but to me it feels more like Ms. Marvel with it’s small town setting and focus on introducing the character first and foremost. Superpowers come second.

I’m genuinely surprised at how small and personal this is actually. When it came to Power Rangers, Higgins wrote the big epic lore-busting series while Ryan Parrott handled the character-driven series. I was honestly expecting this first issue to be Radiant Blackest Night, so the smaller story was very much appreciated.  

Art duties here are handled by Marcelo Costa who has previously colored for Power Rangers, Firefly, and Self/Made. This series looks fantastic. With the series having such a small opening you really get a sense of Costa’s abilities. A lot of artists can draw big superpower battles but can’t draw more than three emotions. Every character here feels like a real human being with their own unique personalities.

The color work is, as to be expected, one of Costa’s strongest abilities here. Every background is beautifully lit, especially the nighttime scenes where the sky is Batman: the Animated Series dark red which contrasts very nicely with Radiant Black’s blueish powers. 

Every panel of Radiant Black tells its own story. Higgins’s background in filmmaking really shines here. Every page had me thinking how fun it would be to shoot this as a live-action project. Higgins is a rare kind of comic writer who knows how to direct the camera on the page.

The most fun aspect of this series isn’t even happening on the page. Higgins and his team are pulling out every trick in the book to not only tell a great story, but also make it a great fan experience. They commissioned a theme song, they’re doing their own podcast, there’s even little details hidden in the backmatter and on the website pointing to some sort of ARG of all things. 

Radiant Black is one of the best first issues I’ve ever read. It’s not only a fun story but also a treasure trove of both promise and potential for a long, invincible-sized epic. Higgins as said the team wants it to run forever and I could honestly see that happen.

This is the perfect comic for fans of tokusatsu, for anyone who loves Power Rangers, for anyone who misses Invincible, and for anyone who wants to see creators having fun doing what they love. Radiant Black is a series that’s going to be around for a while.