Manor Black by Cullen Bunn

Title: Manor Black.
Writer(s)Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt.
Artist(s)Tyler Crook.
Letterer(s): Tyler Crook.
PublisherDark Horse Comics.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020.
Pages: 112.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy, Horror.
ISBN13: 9781506712017.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.


There’s nothing more daunting than being given unanticipated responsibilities to deal with when you’re already struggling to understand your place in a world where the odds are always against you. The weight of this burden forces one to juggle with far more emotions than they were already able to handle but to conquer these obstacles would open their eyes to their potential, their path towards discovering their purpose in a world rife with horrors. However, in a place where magic and black arts exist, the journey is bound to be challenging. This first volume by the creators of Harrow County and The Sixth Gun is the beginning of a potential new gothic horror fantasy series and collects the first four issues of Manor Black and adds in a sketchbook section and pinup art by Jill Thompson, Dan Brereton, Greg Smallwood, and Erica Henderson.

What is Manor Black about? Within Manor Black is a family of powerful sorcerers led by the moribund patriarch, Roman Black. While his children are ill-intentioned and desperately seek the blessing of their father to become the next representative of the black arts, he turns his attention to a young lady with magical powers who possess the potential to become a powerful mage that can fight evil and carry on the legacy of his family. Ari, however, has her problems as a mysterious stranger has set his eyes on her and friends, wishing them death and nothing more in this world. It all now comes down to how she will deal with her life when she will cross paths with Roman Black and the colossal responsibility he has for her.

“It is unnaturalinhumaneto deny people access to power. Whether for fear of a level playing fieldor fear of how the other half will wield it. All of us here chose freedom… For magic and for ourselves. We chose family. We chose each other. You could do the same.”

— Cullen Bunn

It’s safe to say that this was unimpressive from start to finish. I’d have a tough time even saying that it succeeded in achieving anything that resembles horror too. There’s very little that was properly explored in this first story-arc and no news that they’ve even begun working on the next chapter either. While it suffers from poor character- and world-building, the story still contains some intriguing elements, notably a friendly yet perseverant cop, an unstable supernatural group of delinquents, and strange yet powerful totems. The predictable nature of the story also leads to very few to no surprises in the development of the narrative but the fantasy world remains somewhat enchanting and mesmerizing with its Gothic tone. Only a second volume could enlighten the reader in the direction of this series and their interest in these characters.

Artist Tyler Crook brings back his beloved style in this comic book series as he mixes watercolour, coloured inks, and colour pencils to achieve an enticingly dark and sinister world. His character designs are impeccable, giving them an authentic touch that allows the story to maintain an affinity towards originality without necessarily standing out. The facial expressions are also brilliantly executed, allowing the reader to easily understand the emotional atmosphere, tainted in fear and panic, of the story. The panel structure utilized in this series is also quite traditional, maintaining a classic format that works fine for this series. While there’s very little fault that can be attributed to the artwork, it is mostly the story that keeps this one from properly capturing the reader.

Manor Black is a dull yet promising Gothic horror fantasy tale that never really finds its footing in this first story-arc.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!



34 thoughts on “Manor Black by Cullen Bunn

  1. I think after reading your review, that 3 stars is still pretty generous. Real shame this one didn’t work out so well. It’s premise sounds not too bad, but after I read the words predictable and unimpressive from the start, I guess my initial enthusiasm for this wavered😔 The art looks okay, but well safe to say I won’t be picking this one up anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking the same actually hahahaha It’s just that it wasn’t “bad”, per se. I just noted too many issues that doesn’t make this outstanding in any way. It was fun enough for me wanting for more and that’s why it got those 3 stars hahaha Maybe another volume in this universe could help me decide if it’s worth it or not but for now, I don’t see any news from them of more coming soon despite the ending clearly hinting at more! Thanks for reading, Michel! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hadn’t heard of this one before, and it’s always a little disappointing when that might be for the best. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the artwork but it is interesting and does look as if it could work with the right kind of moody, horror story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah it’s one of those reads where you just tell yourself that it wouldn’t hurt you to try it out. I don’t know if another volume set within this universe could make this descent but here’s hoping this creative team could find something interesting to tell next time. Thanks for reading, Ola! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well I don’t understand the 3 stars or maybe, it’s the art for you? Personally, the art is not my cup of tea but I agree with your comment on having the expressions on the face conveying the atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I might have been a bit more generous when I read this. 😉 It’s also because I felt like it was a fun and easy story and that’s exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up. Stating the flaws here was all I could do to allow other curious minds to decide if it’s something they want or not though. 😀 Thanks for reading, Sophie! 😀


  4. I feel like you dragged me on a hike up this steep mountain… I was expecting beautiful views… And then you threw me off the cliff. LOL
    I was wondering if the beginning of the post was written about me.
    You have this ability to write these amazing intros that hype us up and then, unfortunately, the plot/artwork does not always follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a downer. Well done art against a flat story. Perhaps you might want to read a real horror trilogy. When I read your July review on Guillermo del Toro’s and Chuck Hogan’s new book, The Hollow Ones, you mentioned they had written The Strain trilogy. Although I said I wasn’t into reading any more vampire stories, I was curious about this one from del Toro because I like many of his films and I had to read his take on vampires. It is original for sure. I did a trilogy blurt on it. Check it out:

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The TV series is based on the book series but the book authors are also TV writers and Chuck Hogan wrote the teleplay on most if not all the TV series episodes. They adapted the story to TV by creating some characters and changing some events, although the heart of the story is the same. I prefer the book version just because it is richer in the character development and you get to read about the characters’ thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

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