Dark Horse's "Manor Black #1" is an eerie, supernatural soap opera

Writers: Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt, Artist/Colorist & Cover: Tyler Crook

POP Cover Of The Week "Manor Black #1" by Tyler Crook

The cover of Manor Black #1 was chosen as the POP Cover Of The Week, and while researching the imagery on the cover, I found the premise sounded so interesting, I had to review it.

Roman Black, the patriarch of a family of sorcerors, is nearing the end of his life, and needs to choose a successor to take over the family estate (and other hinted at but unexplained goings-on), but he is not satisfied with any of his own grown children. The reasons why are not apparent in this first issue, other than they each take a turn lobbying him to be The Chosen One. He consults with a creepy council of family ancestors, dessicated corpses seated around a table. Close-ups of their crimson ghosts occasionally appear, revealing clothing from the last centuries, back to the Colonial era. Roman inspects a huge hourglass vat of blood accumulating in the manor’s basement crypt, and complains that “it’s still not enough.” Enough for what?

"Manor Black #1" interior art by Tyler Crook.

Meanwhile, a masked (or mummified?) figure miraculously avoids being killed by a speeding van. The police arrived to find the occupants burned alive, and the ground scorched in a prefect circle. Once back at the station, the sheriff spontaneously combusts. Something supernatural is going on: mysteries for the rest of the curious officers to investigate.

Elsewhere, a young girl is being pursued by magical beings, and the chase leads to the edge of Manor Black. Guess who happens to be in the nearby garden examining the roses, that are infected with red veins? What Roman does next will start a chain of events that should be very interesting to watch.

Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have created an imaginative, interesting eerie soap opera/mystery that has hints of the family drama of King Lear, and the family ghosts of Hamlet. The art is an acquired taste that I was not fond of at first, but warmed to by the end of the issue. Tyler Crook’s style is sketchy and loose, with watery, haphazard brush strokes and splotchy coloring. However, the chaotic feel of it contributes mightily to the eerie atmosphere, and supernatural subject matter.

Manor Black #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics, and is on sale July 31, 2019.

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