Black God v1

Black God v1 cover

Story by Dall-Young Lim
Art by Sung-Woo Park
Translated by Christine Schilling
Lettering and retouch by Fawn Lau

Black God is a very pretty comic. Unfortunately, it's not a very good comic.

Keita Ibuki is an otaku and wanna-be game designer whose life is turned upside down when he encounters a mysterious girl at a portable ramen stand. The girl, Kuro, claims to be a high mototsumitama (whatever that is) sent to Earth to maintain the coexistence equilibrium (whatever that is). Unfortunately, she's also being hunted by other superhumans - and one of them blows off Keita's arm in a fight. Kuro manages to save his life by swapping their arms, but the resulting switch means that she's forced to use Keita's tera (whatever that is) to power her exceed (whatever that is). Can the two of them learn to work together before one of Kuro's enemies (whoever they are) kill them both?

This is all way more confusing than it needs to be. The authors clearly want the audience to be in the dark as to what's going on, but they're satisfied using thaumobabble in place of rational explanations. There's a brief explanation of what the coexistence equilibrium is, though I'm not sure why since the equilibrium itself has nothing to do with the rest of the story. Part of the problem may be that concepts are being introduced way too early. First, get the audience used to the idea of supermen, then spring all the crap about tera and mototsumitamas and doppelgangers and coexistence on them. But don't dump it all on them at once without any explanation, because it's just confusing.

It doesn't help that there are few interesting characters, either. Keita is a selfish, conceited jerk who treats everyone like crap. His childhood friend Akane is inexplicably head-over-heels in love with him, which makes her seem like a pathetic imbecile. The villains are generic eeevil types - not a problem in when a series starts out, but they don't look like they're going to develop any sort of depth or motivation in the future, either.

Kuro's the most interesting character - she's a wee bit ditzy, insanely powerful, and completely incapable of explaining her world or understanding how things on Earth work. There's nothing particularly striking or memorable about her, but there's a possibility she could develop into something interesting.

She also spends most of the comic running wearing nothing more than a raincoat and a dog collar. To be fair to the artists, they do their best to downplay all creepy fetishism going on. Unfortunately, there's so much creepy fetishism going on that there's no way to downplay it all, and it sends all sorts of unintentional messages. So we're left with a a cute, scantily-clad, ultra-powerful girl who's subservient to an ungrateful jerk, which has to be someone's fantasy.

Artistically, the series is a mixed bag. Park is quite capable of crafting striking individual images, but his art has a lot of weaknesses. He's not drawing more than a handful of number of body types, face shapes, and facial expressions. Heads frequently look like they're floating above the bodies they're attached to, which is most obvious when Akane wears a turtleneck sweater that appears to be about an inch thick. He has some neat techniques for displaying action, but deploys them so frequently that they lose all their impact by the end of the book. And his overall grasp of composition is pretty poor.

Black God v1 p. 126-7Black God v1, p. 126-127

Here's a perfect example. At first glance, it looks acceptable, but there's no intent discernible behind the arrangement of the panels or the images that have been chosen to fill them. There's an over-reliance on the starburst/speed lines effect which devalues their inherent dynamism and fatigues the eye (it also makes separating the first two panels on the second page difficult). There are some nice uses of the blur effect to create the illusion of motion, but because the blur effect is on nearly every figure in every panel it makes it hard to appreciate. The anatomy in the third panel on the second page is really shaky - Kuro looks like a balloon person and the villain looks like his face has been squashed.

Plus, and this is key, I don't get any sense of how this fight is going from how these actions are laid out. How far is Kuro from her opponent? How does her dodging affect their relative position? How come the villain just stands there when she finally closes - shouldn't his arms be in motion since he's waving those whip things around? If he's got two panels to be surprised, shouldn't that be enough for him to get his guard up?

On the plus side, I like how the overal darkness of the page makes the bright areas stand out and pop. However, they're not really arranged in a way that leads your eyes from one area of the page to the next. Well, okay, in a few panels they are, but it appears to be by coincindence rather than by deliberate design.

Unfortunately, Black God never manages to rise above its problems and show a glimmer of potential. It's a perfectly average (well, somewhat below-average) fight manga, and not really worth wasting your time on.

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