Review: Black Cloud #4
Writer: Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon
Art: Greg Hinkle
Colours: Matt Wilson
Letters: Iditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
‘Zelda was born in a world of dreams, and hers burned bigger than anyone had ever seen. Now she’s on the run in our world, the dreams broken in her hands. But the pieces are for sale, the rich and the powerful are buying, and suddenly her world isn’t the only place Zelda’s running from.’
Black Cloud hasn’t just attracted a leftfield readership with its promise of an abstract plotline and conceptual dizziness; employing the mighty writing talents of Latour (Southern Bastards, Spider Gwen), Image were automatically one step ahead of other releases that hit the shelves at the same time. I was going to begin by stating that this issue would not be considered a great jumping on point, but if I’m honest, issue 1 didn’t feel like one either! This is a tricksy plot to get your noggin round. Zelda, our protagonist, holds the key to passage between our world and another dream world where anything is possible. And when I say anything, fancy a brawl with a gang of talking street cats, or hanging out at a club ran by a dude with a chameleon’s head? The two distinct realities exist simultaneously but events took a turn for the strange when Zelda was asked, back in issue 1, to transport a fugitive to the dream world. But with Zelda herself apparently hiding something, it begins a spiral of strange occurrences that never seem to explain themselves.
By issue 4, you would imagine readers would have a clear picture of what is going on but clever storytelling has meant that we are still looking for answers and explanations along the way. We know that due to events in her past, Zelda is escaping the dream world but her past is not so quick to comply. Here we see a more ruthless and powerful Zelda that was hinted at in previous issues but manifests herself as something much more frightening. As she wields her powers, it’s clear that Frank holds the answers she, and the readers, are looking for. And will we discover the importance and whereabouts of the Oldfathers?
Intriguing storytelling aside, the book has a raft of stand-out qualities. The art is carefully controlled considering this is a fantasy tale yet set within an urban setting. Hinkle doesn’t have the luxury of crafting stunning original vistas that could house the otherworldly events that occupy the dream world. Instead, he paints a landscape that is both fantastical and recognisably edgy. This is pushed further by the excellent colouring skills of Wilson, the huge talent behind the colouring of The Wicked + The Divine. The hues are muted yet apocalyptic in the dream world; sudden strobes of electricity surge from the pages and globes of light float effortlessly here and there. Frank’s sequences reflect an emptiness found within him himself and this also relays a sense that there’s an ancient power at work here, from the days of stone and ice. Clever stuff!
All in all, this is a continuation of a tale that pushes readers to the limits of the storytelling brink. It’s not self-explanatory and almost feels hostile at times; think Twin Peaks meets Jean-Luc Godard. The reward is knowing you’re keeping up with a tale being regaled by a master at work. Dare I say this is an intellectual comic book for readers who are smarter than the average bear? I dare.
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Review written by Arun S.
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