Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artist: Veronica Fish
Letter: Andy Fish
Publisher: Dark Horse
Review by Frank Lanza
Just from the trippy blacklight-esque cover art, I knew Blackwood would be right up my alley. Before I read the first issue, I could tell it was going to have a good creepy occult vibe, and that stuff really floats my boat. I read the book and true to form, the boat floated. After having read Blackwood #2, I can confidently say this book will find a nice comfy spot in my pull list for the foreseeable future. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s just in the Wayback Machine and find out why Blackwood #2 is such a creepy, gooey awesome gem.
This second issue picks up directly where the first book left off. With a grotesquely possessed Dean Ogden jumping in a well and dragging Stephen down with him. Apparently, the spirits inhabiting the well didn’t appreciate the intrusion. They promptly regurgitated them both back up in a flood of water and angry apparitions. Once the dust settled Stephen was deposited in the middle of a scrying circle surrounded by glyphs looking less than whole, his only words “They didn’t want me, just him… Just the Dead.”
The students are then corralled by the staff and brought before Professor Colby. They deliberate on what should be done about the current situation and what it means for the precarious future of the school. Dean Ogden escapes his watery prison and returns to the school. His visit brief and before departing to apologize to his daughter he turns over control of the school to Colby and promptly places a curse on him, linking the fate of the school with his own.
After being interrupted by another faculty member, he disappears behind a false bookcase. The students and staff give chase only to find ancient catacombs running below the school. Meanwhile, Dennis decides he isn’t cut out for this place and takes his leave. While waiting for a bus to return him home, he’s approached by the recurring dirty homeless lady. She reminds him she knows who he is, and her baby (which happens to be a gigantic centipede) is the one who told her. End scene.
For this fan of the macabre and sinister, there’s a lot to like in these early issues of Blackwood. One aspect I like most about Dorkin’s approach this book is while it’s working its way up to some pretty dark and disturbing themes of demonic possession, Lovecraftian monsters, and supernatural murder. He intersperses it with just the right amount of black humor to keep things moving along. All of the students, Wren especially, have a fantastic dry wit that really speaks to me. I like the premise of Blackwood school itself as well. Handing out scholarships to kids with the front of teaching myths and legends with the true inner school dealing with actual occult hidden beneath. It’s fun and a nice spin away from the traditional Harry Potter type of wizarding school.
Veronica Fish’s work is really fun. Her storytelling is brisk and easy to follow. I love the characterizations as well. Everybody is unique and emotive and fun to read. One interesting aspect of her art is how precise and detailed her architecture is in contrast with her slightly cartoony and lively characters. At times, the backgrounds and rooms are so exact and the characters at times seem out of perspective with their surroundings. It’s not a criticism or even something everyone might notice. I found it to be a neat juxtaposition of her art style. In other words, the visuals were pretty cool.
Verdict: Buy it!
Bringing it full circle, I’m in for the long haul. I’m dying to know the secrets of Blackwood, the secrets of our main characters, and just why the heck that creepy homeless lady is carrying around a gigantic centipede. If they can keep up the perfect combo of dark humor with even darker horror, Blackwood #2 might be bigger than that other combo of chocolate and peanut butter.