Radiant Black #15 is written by Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel, illustrated by Eduardo Ferigato (with Marcelo Costa providing artwork for pages 20-21 and 24), colored by Igor Monti, and lettered by Becca See. It’s published by Image Comics. “Unauthorized” finds Marshall and Nathan dealing with more upheaval in their lives as Nathan finally has a conversation with the giant robot that empowered them…and comes to some shocking conclusions. Meanwhile, Marshall has to deal with a fan film being shot that pits Radiant Black against another hero (and colors him in a bad light), while the return of the sound-powered villain Doppler forces him to question what kind of hero he wants to be.
This issue marks a reunion between Higgins and Siegel, as the duo previously wrote the superhero period piece C.O.W.L. for Image Comics. C.O.W.L. also happens to be based on the short film The League, which both of them co-wrote and Higgins directed, marking yet another element of Higgins’ life that shaped his latest work. Elements of C.O.W.L. have slowly been bleeding into Radiant Black, but this is the most significant example of those two worlds colliding. I’m not complaining, seeing how C.O.W.L. was cut down in its prime. There’s also some neat meta-commentary on fandom and how fans will go to great lengths to back their heroes, whether it’s official story material or fan films. Case in point: there’s an entire paragraph dedicated to Marshall arguing why Radiant Black is a formidable force.
Another major theme that Higgins & Siegel tackle is finding one’s purpose, which has been a fundamental element of the series since its beginning. Nathan attempts to help Marshall as Radiant Black, being upfront with him about the connection he still has with the robot and even helping out with the fan film business. Despite taking up a villain’s mantle, Doppler doesn’t want to do destructive things; she needs the charge she gets from Radiant Black to help with her chronic condition. And in one of the issue’s most piercing moments, Marshall is forced to answer why he’s become a hero, which explains a lot of his frustration. Even if he never asked to be a hero, he’s trying to do things his own way, and that deserves some credit.
Ferigato returns to illustrate the issue, and his work continues to hew close to Costa’s while also tapping into the cosmic elements that are a part of the book. A key example comes in the very beginning when Nathan comes face to face with the robot. Monti colors the art in psychedelic shades of purple and pink, while Ferigato draws an effect that makes the pages feel like they’re shifting in and out of reality. Another sequence features Radiant Black and Doppler locked in battle as he pulls her up to the sky, and she uses her sound power to keep him at bay. Said sound powers also give See license to play around with sound effects, as the “Pock” sound of bowling balls striking pins become deadly weapons.
Radiant Black #15 is a meditation on fandom and purpose, featuring some clever callbacks to one of its co-creators’ earliest works. In lieu of the usual backup stories that accompany each issue of Radiant Black, the creators have designed an animated short that is tied to this issue. Said short has yet to release, but when it does, I look forward to watching it – it’s proof that with each issue, Higgins, Costa, and co continue to put out one of the best superhero stories of the decade.
Radiant Black #15 is available wherever comics are sold.
Radiant Black #15
Radiant Black #15 is a meditation on fandom and purpose, featuring some clever callbacks to one of its co-creators’ earliest works. With each issue, Higgins, Costa, and co continue to put out one of the best superhero stories of the decade.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.