REVIEW: 'Radiant Black' #3 by Kyle Higgins, Marcello Costa, and Becca Carey

Okay, that's it. Nathan's getting down to business today: he's finally working on his novel. All he needs is some solitary writing time-no "helpful" parents, no superhero social media, and definitely no alien voices beaming an unintelligible language into his brain. That's not too much to ask for, right?


RADIANT BLACK #3

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Marcello Costa, Becca Carey
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: April 21, 2021
Cover Price: $3.99

Score:
★★★★☆ (4/5)

In comics there's character development then there's Kyle Higgins' Olympic level of character development. In 'Radiant Black' #3 the struggling writer turned unexpected superhero, Nathan Burnett, decides to get serious and sit down and write that novel he's been putting off for years. It's an exercise in immersive storytelling that's certainly unconventional for a new hero series because the majority of the issue is about Nathan's writing process or lack thereof. 

We know the reason he returned home to live with his supportive parents was because he could not secure a book deal for the manuscript he never wrote. Defeated, tired of working as a ride share driver, and up to his ears in debt, Nathan came home still hoping to find inspiration to finally write that novel. What he never expected was that he'd be anointed a superhero when a mysterious alien entity gifted him a suit that give him extraordinary powers. With help from his friend, Marshall, he's trying to learn how to make the best of becoming a superhero. 

It's pretty ballsy in issue three for Higgins to dedicate most of the story to Nathan the writer and not Nathan the hero. But what does that look like? Nathan pulls out an old draft and begins to revisit it. The entire text fills the page. We're seeing his story about a woman who robs banks as he is. We're also seeing the excruciating inner monologue going on in his head. He's trying to make sense of his own story and the direction of the characters. It ultimately devolves into a self-defeating narrative about not being good enough. For any writer this whole scenario is all too relatable. I, for one, know how hard it is to sit in front of a blank screen unable put the words together or have this unyielding dread that you're a fraud and should just stop trying. It's nice to know that even a successful writer like Higgins knows that feeling too.  

What does this have to do with Radiant Black the superhero? I get the impression that as difficult as writing has been for Nathan he's sticking to it and trying to overcome the obstacles in his head anyway. He has  a stubborn determination that should transfer to his duties as a superhero. He'll be as resilient in becoming a better hero as he is in becoming a better writer. Hopefully, with better results. With Marshall acting as his unofficial publicist and social media manager, Radiant Black is ready to go public. 

As usual the art from Marcello Costa is top-notch. Even in this surprising issue where Nathan is mostly sitting in front of a laptop or walking on the street surrounded with a plethora of thought bubbles from a very busy Becca Carey, Costa's designs capture all the angst, frustration, and anxiety of a struggling writer. The facial contortions and body language are eerily familiar and accurate. Even that blank stare is like looking in a mirror. 

'Radiant Black' #3 proves this isn't "just another hero origin story" and something that Higgins has put a lot of thought into. It's about being who you want to be and following your dreams. Sure, super powers are cool but have you ever written an entire chapter before lunch? Higgins took a risk here and maybe I'm biased as a writer but it pays off in further developing Nathan as a person. It's no surprise that 'Radiant Black' is a runaway hit and it's not just the familiar super heroics that makes it so exciting. Higgins has added a personal touch to this story reminding us that characters can be multifaceted and mirror its audience. 

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