I had my worries that the second issue of Blackacre would suffer through a bit of a sophomore slump. What made the first issue exceptional was the subtext of the plot as well as the plot and characters themselves. It was a commentary on modern socio-political inequalities, economic abuses and the unsustainable state of affairs that exists in present day America. And it would have been easy to set this aside, at least for a few issues, to focus on developing its story. And “Blackacre” does develop in issue #2, but it also retains and expands upon the subtext present in the first issue. This isn’t a step back; if anything, this is an improvement.
WRITTEN BY: Duffy Boudreau
ART BY: Wendell Cavalcanti
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE DATE: January 2nd, 2013
Issue two of “Blackacre” picks up pretty much were issue one left off; Hull, a soldier at the eponymous post-apocalyptic stronghold, is off on a mission to retrieve Greene, a fellow soldier gone missing in the wasteland that was America. Little does Hull know that the tracking device planted on him by Sinclair, a superior with eyes towards obtaining more power within Blackacre, is actually a bomb that will detonate when he finds Greene. In addition, there’s a side-plot involving a refugee family captured by a fanatical religious group; they appear to be the only powerful group beyond the walls of Blackacre, and use this power to enslave or kill whomever they come across.
The opening scene depicts Hull on patrol with Greene before the latter’s departure, engaged in a conversation about the nature of their role in the world. Greene is clearly beginning to question the justification behind Blackacre’s excesses, and even its very existence. It’s become obvious that Greene has left Blackacre voluntarily, although this is not depicted, out of ethical objections to the nature of the morbid disparity between the palaces of Blackacre and the desolate wastelands filled with starving, desperate travelers, and the willingness of his superiors to use violence to maintain this disparity. It gives us our first introduction to Greene, and establishes Hull’s relatively indifferent attitude to the horrors that he perpetuates.
Wendell Cavalcanti’s art is better this time around. The inconsistencies that were present in his first issue are essentially gone. His characters are solid, and his environments are getting better. Perhaps where he’s most improved are in his facial animations and the sense of scale and impact he manages to convey in a few particular panels, which really emphasize certain scenes well.
It doesn’t take a genius to read this as a direct criticism of US economic policies, the relative indifference of the affluent towards the almost-comical disparity in income that has become exacerbated in the past few decades, and the willingness of power, whether in the form of government, private corporations or religion, to utilize its most base form – force – to maintain the favorable status quo. But even if you don’t pick up on the political subtext and commentary, this is still an excellent comic because of the strong story, characters and improving artwork. This is becoming one of the better comics Image is putting out… and it’s only issue two.
Reviewed by – George Shunick