I read the first issue of Black Cloak having no idea what to expect and my experience was richer for it. All I knew going into it is that the book reunited the “Heartless” creative team of Kelly Thompson and Meredith McClaren. I feel those names alone should be enough to sell you on this book but I’m obligated to tell you more so here goes: this book is friggin’ rad and totally worth more than the bargain price of $4.99.

Still not enough? Ugh, fine.

Our story begins in another place at another time. When a high-profile member of the city’s royal family is found murdered, the detective assigned must set aside her own fears and put her life on the line in order to bring justice to the family she once called her own. I may have neglected to mention that said detective was once betrothed to the victim and is now considered an exile. Also she’s an elf. Oh, and there’s mermaids. That’s it, that’s all I’m telling you plot-wise.

Thompson’s distinct voice is all over this thing, from the humorous narration to the emotionally complex lead in Detective Phae Essex. Along with pixie-winged partner Pax, Essex is a Black Cloak, this world’s version of a police detective. Not content to let Essex steal the show, Thompson brings life and likability to every character, from the sardonic Pax to Nida, a forensic specialist with her eye on Essex, to an entire precinct of beasts and magic users. On art and color duties, McClaren brings her own distinct style that occasionally feels like an odd fit but actually works perfectly for the unique genre mashup that is Black Cloak. Her depiction of Essex, in particular, is hard-edged yet sad and soulful at the same time. The simple line-work and use of soft, rounded shapes creates an aesthetic that is oddly comforting, which makes the more violent and gruesome scenes all the more effective.

There will no doubt be comparisons to books like “Saga” and rightly so. But Black Cloak is so much more than that series’ less graphic equivalent. The near-seamless blending of crime procedural and fantasy epic create a genre all its own, with characters that are both truly fantastic yet utterly relatable. The world-building is top-notch and its cliffhanger ending will leave you reeling til the next issue…which reminds me, I need to go add this to my pull list, like, yesterday.

Black Cloak #1










World Building



  • Writer: Kelly Thompson
  • Artist: Meredith McClaren
  • Letterer: Becca Carey
  • Editor: Charles Beacham
  • Designer: Rian Hughes

Credits (cont)

  • Publisher: Image Comics
Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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