by Zachary Whittaker
Written by: Kyle Higgins
Art by: Marcelo Costa
Lettered by: Becca Carey
Editing& Design by: Michael Busuttil
Coming off of Nathan’s first real superhero showdown in the last issue, Radiant Black #3 returns to the more down to Earth tone we’ve seen opening each issue so far, catching up with our protagonist as he tries to get back to being creative by revisiting some of his old work.
This is a really interesting issue from a creative standpoint. Featuring full pages from Nathan’s short story ‘Big Time’ creates a break in Marcelo Costa’s artwork, which allows the reader to see things from the protagonists point of view and slip into his mindset – that of a writer attempting to get back into a creative space and decide what he’s hoping to achieve. It’s another element that makes Nathan relatable, the struggle to be creative is something I’m very familiar with, and something that I think Kyle Higgins captures perfectly in the writing here, and Costa reflects it just as well through his artwork; constant procrastination, trying to change up locations to be more productive and repeatedly starting over, they’re all things we’ve seen a million times, but it is the truth of trying to be creative.
While the bulk of this issue focuses on Nathan’s struggle to do what he’s passionate about, we also get a few little glimpses of the Radiant trying to interact with him, which make for some great visuals. There’s a sense that Nathan isn’t entirely aware that this is happening to begin with, and as the issue progresses we see that perhaps his new found powers might not be quite as passive as they initially seemed.
There’s also a nice moment of friendly neighbourhood superheroing which comes as a result of Marshall setting up a Radiant Black twitter account. It’s a nice moment, which serves to show how much of a positive influence Nathan’s old friend really is on his journey into being a hero. There’s also a similar feeling to books like Ultimate Spider-Man, Blue Beetle or Invincible in Nathan’s finding his feet as a hero, but as I’ve said before, there’s a whole different vibe when it’s a thirty-something learning to be the hero instead of the teenage hero story that’s so often presented.
I think my complaint at this point would be that while I’m enjoying the relatable characters and seeing their interactions, other than a few little hints towards the nature of Nathan’s new found powers, we are seeing a very limited amount of actual action and superheroing. I’m alright with the book being a little bit of a slow burn, but I’ve got some concerns that we’re going to be approaching the end of the first arc quite soon, and I’m not sure there’s going to be much of a hook for your average superhero comics fan. The design work throughout the series so far has been supercool and there’s definitely a lot to attract you to Radiant Black but we’re not exactly seeing a Blue Beetle style book here that captures both the personal moments and the heroics. The balance is starting to feel a little bit off and I think we need to see more of a course correction in the next issue.
Also, and I’ve mentioned this in my review of issue #2 and it came up on the podcast, we still only have one named female character (and she’s yet to earn a first name), which is something that I feel needs urgently attending to.
3 out of 5 miniature black holes
Oh also, Image have released an orchestral recording to accompany this issue which is pretty cool, keep on scrollin’ and you’ll find it at the bottom of this page.