Reading the pitch for Black’s Myth #1, it felt like the premise spoke directly to me.
Black’s Myth #1
Wendell Cavalcanti (Artist), Eric Palicki (Writer), Rob Steen (Letterer)
July 7, 2021
Meet Janie Jones “Strummer” Jones—just an ordinary werewolf PI, trying to make it on the mean streets of LA. When the case of a lifetime falls into her lap, it’s up to her and her charming djinn assistant Ben Si’lat to figure out just how many silver bullets have been used, and just where do silver bullets come from anyway?
But I hesitated because sometimes reading something that seems to speak exactly in your language can be setting yourself up for disappointment. Despite my trepidation, I bravely claimed the review copy and got to work.
We start off with a brief introduction to our main character, Strummer. In Wendell Cavalcanti’s strong black and white linework, we see Strummer sunk in a bathtub with headphones in her ears. Throughout the first scene, we learn that she’s been struck by a silver bullet during a routine PI investigation into a cheating spouse. The cheating spouse is normal, the murder attempt is not.
She’s interrupted by her friend/assistant Ben Si’lat. Without going too into detail, Ben is not as human as he appears, and, despite his sweet demeanor, he’s capable of being quite scary when he desires. The two of them agree to wrap up the investigation into the cheating spouse—even a werewolf and her supernatural assistant have to eat—but it’s quickly revealed that anything normal about this case must be superseded by whoever wants Strummer dead. And, surprise! It’s Nazis.
What’s initially striking about this series is Cavalcanti’s bold but clean and exceptionally detailed artwork. It feels almost vintage, lending Black’s Myth an extra noir flair with its stark blacks and whites and only the occasional splash of gray. The character designs feel both timeless and modern, with Cavalcanti’s style grounding the story in reality despite its supernatural twists.
That said, the black and white isn’t always to the comic’s benefit. While it makes the first scene stand out and catch your eye, the sharp contrast makes it feel as if the entire comic takes place in daylight. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it’s intended to feel that way, but I personally like my noir and mystery with a bit more shadow. I appreciate how nice it is to have all the characters stand out against their backgrounds, but the all-daylight feel isn’t doing much to sell the danger.
Overall, Black’s Myth #1 is a solid first issue. I enjoyed it but I’m not entirely hooked—yet. The folkloric touches (love that churchyard Grim background! Love those werewolf details!) connect the story to an intriguing history of werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Likewise, the almost anachronistic juxtaposition between a more classic noir story and the use of smartphones and modern terminology (not to mention modern values—it’s refreshing to see a modern noir story that doesn’t rely on flagrant sexism and racism to channel the genre’s history!) position it as something fresh in the sometimes hackneyed neo-noir space. This is especially true when it comes to playing with doubling in the story—both Strummer and Ben have supernatural sides you don’t know of on first sight, and those supernatural sides can be threatening. Writer Eric Palicki cites The Maltese Falcon as an inspiration for the story, and it’s not hard to see why; characters play multiple (even duplicitous) roles, their threatening secrets kept close to their chests. There are plenty of ways for this story to unravel with delicious drama.
Still, it has room to grow. I hope later issues do a bit more to set Strummer apart from our usual tough-girl heroine—I like her, but in a sort of abstract way. There’s plenty of ways to explore what sets her apart from the archetype, and I have faith that it can be done—Ben, for example, immediately felt like a fresh and intriguing character! It won’t take a lot to set her apart from other characters of her ilk, but I hope a bit more backstory and texture will be worked into issue two to really sell the story.
A solid start like this one can lead to an amazing arc, so I’ll be picking up the next issue with anticipation.