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Blacklist Volume 2: The Arsonist


By Avi Weinryb
September 6, 2016 - 10:32

Blacklist_voL2_Cover.jpg
Billed as an “extension” of the hit TV series, the Blacklist comics provide original stories featuring the characters from the show. Sony Pictures Television needs to be commended for capitalizing on their hit production with a comic that isn’t a cash-grab but is actually a satisfying, fun reading experience. Having never seen the show before, or even read the first volume of the comic series, I now want to do both. Other media companies with television properties should take note of the uncompromised quality on display here.

In this volume, which collects five issues of the series, we find Raymond “Red” Reddington and Elizabeth “Liz” Keen on the run, with Liz marked as a killer of a U.S. government official and Red convinced he can help her clear her name. With the FBI on her tail, the duo delve into Red’s shady past as they try to find an escaped convict who may have the evidence they need. With the secret criminal organization the Cabal working in cahoots with some elements of government intelligence, it becomes clear that no-one can be trusted. But with the imminent weaponization of a powerful new explosive -- and the mysterious convict on the hunt for its developer, it becomes very clear that all roads lead to the same place but getting there will come at a great cost to all involved.

Writer Nicole Phillips deserves kudos for crafting a thrilling story. The pace is fast, the characters pop off the page, and the stakes always feel high and real. Red’s charm really makes it feel as if James Spader’s character has been squeezed down from 3D to 2D and inserted directly onto the page. Phillips is a former script coordinator on the Blacklist television show who recently stepped up to the status of writer. She has been making a name for herself in Hollywood, climbing the ranks, having previously served as J.J. Abrams’ assistant on a few feature films. Now she has proven herself to be a double threat, with both strong television and comic book writing under her belt.

The artwork in this book is unabashedly digital, but Beni Lobel does a great job putting it all together. An element of photorealism is necessary, especially for the characters -- all of whom look like their real-life television counterparts. The fact that the art has a slightly clinical look to it helps make the story an extension of the live-action series. If you’re looking for groundbreaking imagery, you won’t find it in this book, but the work is strong and the layouts are well composed, creating a comic that is visually satisfying.  

If you enjoy spy thriller comics, even if you aren’t familiar with the Blacklist show, you should give this series a shot. It’s deftly written, well illustrated, and has thrills to spare.

Rating: 9 /10


Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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