Comic Review: “Black Bishop” (Evoluzione Publishing)
Who will win the game of spies, superheroes and assassins?
Today we’re going to take a look at Black Bishop, at 32-page one-shot comic published by Evoluzione. Some story spoilers will follow!
Written and created by Marcel Dupree, co-written by Guido Martinez and illustrated by Gaurav Shrivastava, Black Bishop is an action-packed spy adventure set in a world where governments and corporations are reacting to the emergence of superhumans by creating all kinds of super tech. The book’s titular heroine – Agent Bishop – is a top operative for a mysterious British organization known as The Board (get it?), which you can only join based on a blood relation. Like the Black Bishop herself, all members of The Board members have have chess-inspired names: White Rook, Black King, etc.
After a successful mission infiltrating a Russian research facility, Agent Bishop is put on trial by The Board for divulging some of the organization’s critical secrets. As it turns out, Agent Bishop recently went on a date with a reporter, got drunk off her gourd, and wound up spilling classified information. Her date naturally goes on to broadcast these secrets to the world, and the unsurprising result is that a number of The Board’s members are now being targeted for assassination.
Despite her association with The Board being unceremoniously terminated, Agent Bishop chooses to clean up her mess and stop whomever is killing her fellow agents. Long story short, the assassin’s name is Union, and he’s got a very specific beef with The Board. The adventure takes Agent Bishop across the globe, where she confronts not only Union, but also tangles with China’s premiere superhero team – The Imperials, and more people die along the way.
Black Bishop has a lot of action, but it still manages to tell a fairly satisfying and complete story in its one-shot format. As what I assume is an origin story, choosing to introduce Agent Bishop with her dismissal from The Board might not have been the strongest decision. Her trial by The Board seems rushed and is less impactful as a result. It’s certainly possible that the Black Bishop character has appeared in previous Evoluzione books, but if that’s the case, I’m not aware of it.
There are also several points in the story which are glossed over, almost certainly to maintain the rapid pacing. Details such as how Agent Bishop traces Union’s location across the world are not expanded upon. The reader is left with an understanding that she just “does it”, which might be a hanging point for readers hoping to dive a bit deeper into the finer whys and hows of the plot. Additionally, I could have gone for a little less of Agent Bishop’s internal monologue during the opening action scene.
On the artwork side, everything in Black Bishop is solid action fare, and the style definitely lends itself more to a “superhero” tale than anything akin to espionage-driven intrigue. Agent Bishop’s black duds never seem to offer her very much “stealth”, either, as the colors of the book are mostly rich and vibrant, which reinforces the feel of Black Bishop being a high-octane action book.
The characters themselves are dynamically illustrated, and while the ladies of the book are quite attractive and shapely, there’s not any nudity. Sometimes the anatomy goes a bit wonky, but I didn’t find these moments to be too distracting.
A few of the panels got a bit small for my liking, but most of the page layouts are varied, interesting, and flow well with the quick pace of the story. The only remaining quibble I have is that there are moments of sound effect overload, or at least times when the sound effects are more distracting than they should be.
So, is Black Bishop worth recommending? I might start by mentioning that the content in Black Bishop – the language, violence, etc. – are at least at the “Teen”/PG-13 level, and possibly as high as a weak “Mature”. Eh, maybe. I’d let a 14-year old read it, but I’m admittedly more permissive than many.
In any case, I am rather impressed with Black Bishop as an overall package, starting with artwork that is at least on par with mainstream books, as well as the solid paper stock and printing quality (because that certainly matters, too). While the plot took questionable turns at times, the story still flowed well as an action-themed book, though at the expense of characterization and subtle intrigue. If you’re looking for a well-done one-shot story that is heavy on action and vibrant art but a bit light on plot and character development, Evoluzione’s Black Bishop isn’t a bad bet.
Thanks for reading!
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