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Black Cloud #1

by Forrest Hollingsworth on April 05, 2017

Black Cloud #1

Writing: Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon
Art: Greg Hinkle
Colors: Matt Wilson
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image
 
Black Cloud #1 is a thrilling, overwhelming, opening of a story about stories. It defies first issue conventions in both fantastic and frustrating equals, leaving readers awash in a compelling tandem effort that plays off the strengths of both the writers and artists here in awe-inspiring ways.

It’s hard to capture, without entirely spoiling, what Black Cloud is about. It’s about dreams, about one person, Zelda, who travels between a dream world and modern day New York, a gatekeeper of sorts to a fantastical world where not everything is as it seems but will need to spend some extended time there by the issue’s end.

It’s also not about that at all. It eschews conventional narration or hand-hold writing for a kind of meta-narrative approach. It’s a story about stories. The stories we tell each other, the stories we tell ourselves, the way our stories interact with each other, the roles we play.
In a whirlwind first issue, there’s so much to latch onto that you’ll need multiple passes to catch it all. There’s the poetic, contemplative narration, the art, detailed and cartoonlike in equal measure that depicts these incredibly layered worlds and the color that brings it to life.

The characters themselves, all seemingly having sadly underexplained ulterior motives, are the least lively of the entire endeavor, but I suspect Latour and Brandon have quite a bit planned for their respective arcs, too.

Ultimately, it’s an overwhelming issue. One that I find hard to explain even now, but one that I liked very much when I let go of my first issue expectations or pre-conceived notions. It’s not dissimilar in effect to The Wicked + The Divine, the end of Soule’s meta Swamp Thing run, or other series in that vein. It’s a story that cannot be contained by this first issue, can’t be encapsulated in any encompassing way, and while I find that frustrating, I also find it deeply, maybe profoundly, intriguing.

Attentive readers will find a lot here, others may not. The story, art, colors, and rest of the package are finely tuned, aesthetically and emotionally pleasing things that I can’t see disappointing in subsequent issues where Hinkle brings these worlds and characters to life, Wilson lights them up in the way that's done here, balancing the bland and ethereal and Latour and Brandon act as a kind of guiding pair of hands.

I wasn’t entirely sure I understood Black Cloud #1 after my first readthrough, then. I can’t be sure you will, either. Be sure, however, that the team here is laying the groundwork for something fantastic, to be sure, but it may leave some readers by the wayside. With that in mind, if you’re still interested, wade into the deep end and see what you find. There’s a lot to see, maybe something to learn and I think, even more to come. 
 

Our Score:

8/10

A Look Inside