After coming in third of our best comic of the year award (a noble position, given the array of quality titles in the running), writer Ken Reynolds, along with partner in crime Sam Bentley, didn’t rest on their laurels and returned to Kickstarter with a new issues Cognition #2: Black Shuck. With the rewards now being sent out we take a look at this latest instalment and see how it lives up to past efforts!.
Publisher: Ken Reynolds Comics
Writer: Ken Reynolds, David Hailwood (Editor)
Artist: Sam Bentley (Art), Ken Reynolds (Letters)
Price: Purchase issue #2 for £3.50 from the Cognition website
Cognition’s second issue follows Cal, Sigma and the team of the British Occult Secret Service as they embark on a mission to investigate a rumoured ‘devil dog’ in rural England. Rumours have been circulating of an evil beast roaming the countryside for centuries and any who gaze upon receive the Black Shuck, a form of bad luck or misfortune, as a result. However, when a recent contact lends some credence to the rumour, these mystical adventurers make the trip to confirm the truth and, hopefully, survive it.
Once again, Ken Reynolds has crafted a good, fun story which is an interesting read with a nice twist on a rather cliched stereotype. Once again though, the main draw of this issue is the title’s main characters as the dynamic between the robotic Cal and the the mousey Sigma feels as strong as ever especially during the carriage ride to their destination as we are treated with an idea of what happens between them between the issues. However, issue two goes one further as it begins to delve more into the connection with these two leads as well as some of their mystic abilities, which only helps to cement their compelling nature. That said, the other characters, chiefly Pope and Hattie, aren’t given the same attention and even their identities aren’t really provided in what feels like a self contained story. There is also a back up feature to the issue which, while interesting in it’s own right, doesn’t feel connected to a great degree to the main cast (with Cal and Sigma only mentioned by sight) and so isn’t as compelling a read.
On the art side of the title, Sam Bentley provides another great job as his wonderfully gothic style continues to give the series that well suited Victorian horror vibe which was such a highlight of the prior entries. However, while the overall style is still top notch and really helps give Cognition a real unique identity, there are still a brief moments throughout where the events of the issue become confusing as the characters and backgrounds look as if they are bleeding into each other. The back up story, on the other hand, offers a very different style to the main book which is a lot clearer with bigger, bolder pencils and some panels come off very art within art style which is a nice change of pace. That said, in a contradictory turn, because this style isn’t Bentley standard for the book, it is a little jarring.
While not as strong as the previous two outings, Cognition: Black Shuck is still a darkly enjoyable comic with some inspired gothic art bringing to life some of comics most interesting comic character team ups. With this series, Reynolds and Bentley have created something really compelling in both its world and the characters who wish to protect, or possible destroy, it. If you are not on board now, it’s worth getting all the issues and catching up to discover why being a top 3 comic of the year is most definitely deserved.