While the world is being ravaged by a very real threat and we’re all condemned to our homes for the foreseeable future, the experience, discomfort and misery that it’s caused has been made a little more bearable by Dark Horse’s Manor Black. With our government enforced time off and all manner of scare mongering running rampant on social media, there’s never been a better time to remove yourself from real world issues for a couple of hours and indulge in this perfectly crafted story.
Taking influences from the classics of the genre, such as American Gothic, Hammer Horror movies and Dark Shadows, Manor Black is perfect supernatural, gothic horror. Keen to find a successor before his time is up, Roman Black is the head of a family of sorcerers each member of which is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed their ailing father. Whilst the action around the manor is similar to Horror classics such as The Fall of the House of Usher, the main setting for the story is actually based in small town America. A clash of styles you might think? Not at all, as writing team Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, make sure that the gothic manor, its surroundings and characters who fill it, fit in perfectly with the picture book, white picket fence American town and thanks to the artistic flourish of Tyler Crook, the evil practically oozes from the page. But it isn’t just Roman’s greedy relatives who are fighting over his legacy, as his kind of power draws all manner of things out of the woodwork, which forces Roman to make a decision that will affect both his family and the rest world.
Collecting the first four issues, this is the perfect gateway into the Manor Black mystery, with its horror soap opera feel and you’re left with the impression that the trio of Bunn, Hurtt and Crook, could go on banging out story after incredible story about the world they’ve created and it would never get tedious. This could be the beginning of the next big horror book. So step over the threshold of Manor Black. You won’t be disappointed… Chris Andrews