Radiant Black Volume 4 – Comics Review

Radiant Black Volume 4

  • Writer: Kyle Higgins
  • Illustrator: Marcelo Costa
  • Publisher: Image
  • Collects issues #19-24

Grade: B+

One of the things that’s drawn me to the Radiant Black series is in its depiction of real-life consequences to having superpowers. Its protagonists aren’t too dissimilar to Peter Parker or Spider-Man – the urtext for these kinds of stories, of course – always trying to do the right thing but inevitably messing things up in one way or another. Writer Kyle Higgins doesn’t portray being a superhero as either a hindrance or an escape from the real world. Rather, it’s more like another facet of its protagonists’ personalities.

Volume three sees Nathan and Marshall, who have shared the Radiant Black powers over the last few issues since Nathan woke up from a coma, torn in opposite directions and trying to make something of their lives. The bulk of the drama this time around is mostly given to Nathan; one issue sees him venture to LA to try and pick up his life as a writer and make it big. In fact, the looming alien/robot crisis that threatens the world isn’t even resolved by the end of issue 24. Higgins seems to have approached the collection less as a contained series and more as part of a larger whole.

Of course, that’s not to say that the volume doesn’t have its own arcs that are set up and resolved by the end. Now that he’s past the coma and got his legs under his feet, the series feels like it’s all about Nathan taking ownership of his life – a topic that’s ever-present for twentysomethings like Nathan. His time as the titular hero isn’t much easier either; much like the aforementioned Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, his powers are on the fritz with no apparent explanation. The action is relatively sparse this time around, but it contains the same visual flair that artist Marcelo Costa has brought to the series before. Issue 24 sees Nathan and Marshall step into Existence, and it’s another expressively realized series of pages.

Radiant Black could go in any number of directions, based on the final page of the volume. Higgins and crew have put forth another solid series of issues in Image Comics’ burgeoning new franchise. Every enduring superhero comic has to have a solid balance of hero/villain intrigue and character-based drama. Radiant Black and all of its off-shoots, including Radiant Red and the currently running Radiant Pink, has both in spades.

Radiant Black issues 19-24 are available now at bookstores and online wherever books are sold. The collected volume will be available July 19.

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