While I admit I am among the fans who were disappointed to see Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott leave Wonder Woman, I am also very happy to see them return to Black Magick. “Awakening II” provides some solid world building and character development for the police detective Rowan Black, who many already know and love. At first glance, the series feels like a standard urban fantasy, but there is an authenticity that comes from its many references to real life Wiccan practices and beliefs and this is very clear in this issue such as when several characters make reference to the Wiccan Rede and the Three Fold Law. Similarly, an overarching motif in this issue is The Wheel of Fortune, which represents the cycle of change. This is a particularly apt choice as this is a prequel showing a very big transitional moment for Rowan and most of the storyline is about her coming to terms with that transition.
“Awakening II” has many wordless panels and one of the advantages of this choice is that the reader can better recognize and identify with the struggle that Rowan is going through. This lack of codification leaves us with only our own perspectives on the anger, fear, sadness, and frustration that could easily come from anyone going through the emotional roller coaster of their transitional teenage years. It is this encouraged identification that makes the issue so emotionally impactful. The overall context is that she is a religious minority who was confronted with the danger of practicing what she believes in. This may not be something everybody can relate to, but it the emotional resonance of her struggle can still be felt regardless. As Artur remarks in relation to both burnings and pogroms: “The wheel spins, and we forget the joy, and we recall the sorrow…” (15).
Greg Rucka’s writing is solid throughout; however, the artist Nicola Scott steals the show. Both the paneling and coloring really stand out and tell the story in a way that words simply cannot. Namely, they highlight the difference. Most of the pages are filled with very rigid paneling and little to no color. This makes every shift apparent and forces the reader to slow down and fully appreciate the choices Scott made. The moment of Rowan’s transition exemplifies this perfectly as the panels seem to float much like her body with bubbles both in and out of the panels creating a sense of timelessness. Even on this page though a further difference stands out as the bubbles on the bottom right show increased redness and are cut off by the gutter mirroring the fear in her eyes; thereby, hinting at what is to come.
In the end, I would absolutely recommend picking this one up. For the newcomers,”Awakening II” provides a good taste for how the series typically feels as far as its art and pacing. It also provides some additional depth and much-needed back story for those who are already familiar with the series. There are no big plot twists and it doesn’t make much of an impact on the story at large, but it is well worth the read. In the end, this feels like a very appropriate way to restart this series and I for one can’t wait to see where the wheel takes us next.
Story: Greg Rucka
Art / Cover: Nicola Scott
Variant Cover: Liam Sharpe