Black Magick #8 (Image Comics)
It’s getting hard to imagine cops being heroes, or even good people.
Like, I get it: some people get into police work because it is a calling and they want to protect and serve. That’s cool. That’s admirable. It just seems like more and more cops get into the profession because you get to carry a gun and a badge and you get a license to be a dick. And maybe some people get into the profession to try and change that, but they have to deal with the corruption in command and the eroding trust of the people around them and there’s going to be very few people that can maintain themselves under that kind of stress.
Being a good cop is hard. Being a good cop when no one trusts you because the thin blue line protects bad cops is impossible. And that’s why we are where we are: in a place where we cannot trust cops because they have tendency to shoot innocent people for no reason, to convict innocent people because someone had a gut instinct and damn the evidence, to double down on mistakes made and destroy the lives of the people they’re supposed to be protecting and serving.
Taking all that into account makes this comic fascinating.
Greg Rucka is exploring the idea of traditional guardians – the priests and priestesses of the old and wise faiths – getting into police work because, for them, it is a calling and not just a career. Yes, they have to deal with the shades of gray and terrible bullshit that comes from working for a corrupted part of a corrupted system, but it is the best they can do and they manage as best they can.
And this is Greg Rucka – a writer who adds depth and meaning to every line of dialogue with the same skill that some fish swim. Words and story come naturally to him and he lives in this ocean of faith and dogma, the ebb and flow and pull of magic and purity and corruption, and it’s hard to think of a story that he’s written that embraces all those qualities the way this one does.
There was a murder and the old wise guardians moved to do what they can, but find themselves confronted by zealots from a dogmatic church and zealots from a perversion of their own practices. There’s a lot going on here, the strain and stick of human consciousness and relationships brushing with the divine. This comic is a touchstone for where the thinking ape meets the wandering angel. It’s beautiful.
A good chunk of that beauty must be laid at the feet of Nicola Scott, whose incredible artwork makes this impossible to look away from. Soft lines and graying sepia give way to color only when magic touches the world, hard shades used to express nuance and emotion. Every frame in this comic is gorgeous.
If you like your noir tinged with a touch of something distinctly other, this is your story. Do not miss it.