REVIEW: Atomic Diner's Black Scorpion One Shot

 

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Written by: Rob Curley
Art by: Stephen Downey
Cover by: Stephen Downey
Published by: Atomic Diner
REVIEW: Anticipation was high coming into this book. From the announcement of a war story of which I am a huge fan of to the amazing cover that was released several months ago coupled with how strong the line of books from Atomic Diner have been over the last year or so, I was looking forward to getting my hands on this book. As usual with Atomic Diner books the package was worth the wait but this issue held something that bit more over the rest and I found this book to be a tent pole by which all others will have to aspire to.
The opening scenes take place at the bloody battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917. The scene was written silently which was a smart way to write a scene like this as the art of Downey was able to breathe and convey the brutal kinetic action of battle with ease. The story progressed in a manner though I wasn’t expecting. Curley brought the story to conclusion in a manner of a retrospective narrative which was pulled off rather nicely. The occurrences of the Black Scorpion throughout various battle fields as told from the point of view of those in the field hospital was nicely explored throughout the issue. I found that the story structure of this book was a notch above the rest from what has come so far and the book was entirely submersible and I found myself breezing through it enjoying every page.  I would love to see a ton more material featuring this era and characters.
Stephen Downey’s art is simply amazing. His layouts over the opening battle scenes were great and said a lot in the absence of narrative as I said above. In the scenes during the card game where a bunch of talking heads can be difficult to make interesting, his fully fleshed out panels drawing the eye were nice. One of the most poignant pages in the book for me were the four panels showing the building of the railroad and the transportation of bodies. I have no idea how much of this layout was dictated in the script or how much was Stephen’s own input but it was one page in all the book that brought home the horror that war brings to families.
Special mention must go to the cover art by Stephen Downey. Ever since the image first appeared online several months ago, it only added to the anticipation that one felt for the book and you thought that this book was going to be something special. It is no exaggeration to say that the cover art on this issue is probably the one of the best you will see all year from any comics company.
Following on from the range of books that Atomic Diner has released since League of Volunteers #1 through to Jennifer Wilde #2, Black Scorpion is my favourite so far. With an envious combination of strong writing and astounding visuals something special is forming at the Diner and those who are following it are witness to something extraordinary. If you aren’t on board yet, I implore you to do so as you are missing out on some of the best story telling yet told from Ireland.