Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Marcelo Costa & Igor Monti
Letterer: Becca Carey
Radiant Black #10 picks up immediately where #9 left off. Marshall manages to access Existence in a last bid to save the life of his friend and OG Radiant Black, Nathan. Unfortunately, the issue fails to maintain the momentum of a train barreling towards our protagonist. In fact, Radiant Black #10 is the type of issue that turns monthly readers into trade waiters.
From a visual standpoint, the issue ranges from reliably vibrant to truly spectacular. There are some brilliant twists on Marcelo Costa’s typical layouts, though it is colorist Igor Monti who does a lot of the heavy lifting, including sequences reminiscent of “Pink Elephants On Parade.” That said, the art–like the story–lacks shape and weight. Readers have no real understanding of Existence; things simply happen, Marshall reacts, then something else happens. The art follows along–again, soaring to great heights in doing so–but many of the tricks and inversions feel cold or old-hat without an emotional or physical grounding.
The narrative is a lot of treading water.
For the duration of these (very pretty) pages, Marshall stumbles through Existence with an unclear mission. Readers are told is that Marshall is DEFINITELY going to die. He’s going to to face some MAJOR challenges here. The cosmic being(s) keep telling him this, so it’s surely the truth.
That’s the goal of the issue, in fact: to find Truth. In a bit of stilted cosmic dialogue, Marshall learns that “To reach Nathan Burnett, you must reach Truth. There is only Truth in Existence.” To be fair to Kyle Higgins, Existence and Truth are proper nouns in this world, so we can expect more insight in the future, but with the latter phrase repeated numerous times throughout the issue, it comes off as irritating pseudo philosophy.
With great art and high stakes, you’d think Radiant Black #10 would at least offer up some great interdimensional action, but the issue is fairly sparse in that regard. In fact, it’s unclear why the journey to Truth was supposedly so dangerous or beyond Marshall’s experience. An internal climax may fit the mold better. Unfortunately, Marshall’s grand, cathartic revelation–that he hates himself–has been apparent since the first issue.
This bit of introspection is unearned and, quite frankly, nonsensical: it is clearly not a lie that Marshall came to Existence, and Truth, to save Nathan. That’s exactly why he’s there, and he’s willing to die for his friend. Sure, he hates himself, but both things can be true.
Somehow this admission fixes everything, reviving Nathan and allowing them both to leave Existence unscathed. Nathan says Existence makes nothing easy, implying there will be consequences, so it remains to be seen what kind of impact this issue has on the series moving forward.
As a one-off reading, though, it’s lacking.
It's not a bad issue, but if feels *necessary* rather than a must-read installment. Future issues will better determine what role #10 plays in the Radiant Black saga.