Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Marcelo Costa
Colour Assistant: Rod Fernandes
Letterer: Becca Carey
Editor & Designer: Michael Busuttil
Publisher: Image

In an absolutely welcome change to the previous issues of Radiant Black we open this chapter with something less grounded. A glimpse at something resembling a giant robot that’s trying to communicate with Nathan, from inside his own head. From there we see Nathan attempting to get a better grasp on what his powers are with the help of ol’ reliable Marshall.

Thankfully a conversation between the two friends about what Marshall would’ve done if he’d grabbed the Radiant first is interrupted as Red attacks Nathan, who quickly transforms into his Radiant Black alter-ego. It’s a moment that channels old episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the villain turning up from out of nowhere to attack our heroes as they go about their business, and it works really well. The fight scene between the two captures the differences in their powers and showcases that Nathan is a hero, who’s willing to protect innocent bystanders and even the person he’s fighting when they’re put in danger.

This issue ends with a twist that was genuinely surprising, I’m not going to give anything away, but if you’ve been following Radiant Black I think you’ll be legitimately shocked by this one.

Now, with the synopsis out of the way, I’m fairly confident in saying this is perhaps the most interesting issue of Radiant Black so far, it feels like we learn quite a bit about the Radiant, Nathan and Marshall as the issue progresses. I’m not entirely sure that the pacing and balance of the series has been what it needs to be so far, it seems like the odd numbered instalments focus on everyday Nathan with less superhero-ing, whilst the even issues are doing more in terms of action. I think this is a series that’s going to read a lot better in trade as I think the imbalance will be less noticeable making for a more enjoyable read.

While I feel like Kyle Higgins’ writing isn’t entirely as well structured as I think it needs to be, there’s no denying that there are some great ideas in Radiant Black, I think anyone who’s grown up on a steady diet of Power Rangers and Ultimate Spider-Man is going to enjoy the series.

Marcelo Costa’s artwork is one of the greatest strengths of the series so far, especially when coupled with Rod Fernandes’ colouring, Becca Carey’s lettering and Michael Busuttil’s design work. There’s no denying that the four manage to create a distinct visual that you wouldn’t mistake for any other series. The opening pages alone are mind bendingly cool, and Costa’s artwork during the fight scene with Red is really well done, capturing the action in all it’s glory while also showing both characters’ emotions throughout, which is no small feat when they’re both wearing helmets that cover their faces.

*sigh* this is a good issue, it delivered on the action I asked for last month, and I enjoyed it a lot. However, I do have to make the same complaint I’ve made about every issue. There’s still a noticeable lack of female characters, and while the character count is on the low side anyway, it’s increasingly frustrating that four issues in this seems to be something that the team behind the series have no interest in resolving. I’ve actually spent the last three issues waiting for the reveal that Radiant Red is a woman, and I’m starting to give up hope on that possibility too.

On the plus side this continuing problem does mean I’m looking forward to Inferno Girl Red all the more, but we shouldn’t be looking for another transforming hero story to be the way to solve a problem in Radiant Black book.

So to conclude, this is a good issue and it is worth your time. If you haven’t been reading the series up until this point I’d say wait for the trade, and keep in mind that I’ve made the same complaint for what will make up over half a trade, that’s clearly a significant issue.

4 out of 5 miniature black holes.

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