It’s no secret that we are huge fans of Ryan K Lindsay (Everfrost, Eternal) and so when we discovered his latest series with Sebastian Piriz (Disaster Inc) was being released via the venerable Heavy Metal magazine we knew we had to find a copy and check it out. Set upon an alien world where intergalactic refugees have been invited, can Black Beacon find a home with readers?
Publisher: Heavy Metal/Magma Comix
Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
Artist: Sebastian Piriz (Art), Jame (Letters)
Price: Available in Heavy Metal #306
Black Beacon tells the story of Bar, an alien law enforcement official of plate 316 who, in the effort to stop two criminals, crashes into an unknown spaceship having landed right in front him. This ship contains Niko a celestial refugee from Earth who states that she and her people were invited here. However, the problem is that everyone else was invited here too and so there is no where for Niko or her people to go amongst the plates to call home. Now Bar and Niko begin their journey through the plates to find Niko somewhere to live, but what is the motive behind the usually solitary Bar’s assistance and is there more to Niko than meets the eye?
Ryan K. Lindsay has written a very interesting open instalment to this new series, one which feels very much like a mystery set in this new world. What really piques my interest are the characters, who themselves come across as intriguing. Both Bar, the resident ‘Cop’, and Niko, ‘the audience POV’, are both compelling in different ways but not due to what is not known. rather than what is. For instance, Bar is implied to be quite a solitary, almost selfish, character and yet he seems genuinely invested in Niko’s safety. Meanwhile, Niko is presented as the first of many refugees, a Vanguard of sorts, to relay information. However, much about this issue paints Niko’s motives as very ulterior.
Of course the suspense is both its draw and it’s shortcoming in our mind. Despite cards being kept close to the chest, information necessary to set the scene is a bit lacking. For example, where is the story set? What brought the refugees here? What is Wailes motive? None of this comes across in an obvious way, despite it feeling pertinent. Even Niko’s name isn’t revealed until late in the issue. Also, the issue does come across as word heavy and, to a degree, overly philosophical. It’s a similar critique we had to Ryan’s other recent work Everfrost, which means it is a conscious choice for his style. While this led to some confusion for us, if you enjoy this style of work then you will definitely get a lot out of Black Beacon.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Piriz delivers some gorgeous artwork to this first issue, with a style which is reminiscent of Matteo Scalara’s work in Black Science but with a hint of Dustin Nguyen’s Descender work as well. This is exemplified in the eclectic variety of alien beings that Piriz produces from one page to the next as well as the spectacular double page spread showing off the design of the plates. That said, the art style does differ later in the issue, as Piriz offers an action packed fight scene with same kinetic vibe that would be found in God Country. However, this doesn’t cause any jarring-ness as Piriz works wonders to marry this and his earlier visuals.
Black Beacon opens up with an intriguing first issue which falters only under the weight of its own philosophy (and perhaps our lofty expectation). However, with sublime art on every page and a terrifically profound concept which feels very real world, as the story builds I can see this series having some truly great potential.