HomeBooksComic Review: Image Comics’ Radiant Black #4 – He's WHAT?

Comic Review: Image Comics’ Radiant Black #4 – He’s WHAT?

Nope. No sir. Nope.

Kyle Higgins, Marcelo Costa, Becca Carey … I’d like a word please.

It’s safe to say I do not believe anyone saw this coming. With this in mind, I must put a special disclaimer on this review of Radiant Black #4

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SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

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Last chance to turn back. I’m not joking.

The book begins with Nathan in a vision, hearing a language he knows he doesn’t understand, yet he can. This leads to a conversation with a visually stunning being, something taken from 1940’s and 50’s alien robot men, who warns Nathan of a battle, nay, a war coming soon. A choice must be made, and if he fails, his world will suffer.

It turns out this is more than just a vision. While hanging out with Marshall, they try building some typical hero skills, this time projecting the energy into an offensive strike, vaporizing some action figures. Poor guys. The vision becomes stronger, the being warns Nathan of a war for The Radiant, a warning of their minds unifying and becoming one, and the final question, when the time comes to choose, “Will you take his life?”

This took on more than one meaning. A quiet lunch becomes a war zone as the Red villain from Issue #2 attacks, revealing to have discovered Nathan is Radiant Black. The fight spills everywhere, until ultimately a building threatens to collapse. Nathan smashes Red, shattering the helmet. He immediately orders the Red to start supporting the foundation to allow the people inside time to leave. They clear out as the structure begins its collapse. Nathan, without hesitation blasts Red and anyone else clear from the area.

The face. We only see the eyes on the helmet, like a sad neon robot emoji, but knowing there is a true human being underneath, feel his anguish. The building crumbles on top of Nathan. The last thing we see is not a heroic pose, no clichéd catchphrase. He knows time is up.

His face, the moment.

Marshall finds Nathan Burnett, dead in the rubble. The Radiant sphere emerging from his chest. The next page takes us back to the being, once again with a warning about a war, the merging of beings, and asking “Will you take his life?”

Except it’s not Nathan. It is Marshall.

“Will you take his life?” May mean killing someone else in battle, but in this very moment, Marshall is now taking the life of Nathan, assuming the mantle of Radiant Black. It is possible when the being mentions the merging of minds, anyone who has possessed this radiant sphere has their consciousness unified with others. This might lead to a possibility we have not seen the last of Nathan, but as of the final pages of Radiant Black #4, Nathan is dead.

We have been led to believe up to this point Nathan was the main character. Given the focus and attention to detail of his journey home, but yet this now seems more of an origin story for who becomes Radiant Black. If not for Nathan, Marshall would not have gone out drinking, with them stumbling onto the sphere in the first place. It was through Nathan’s return home these events began to take shape. Marshall was the one focused on the identity and the mystery, and poor Nathan just wanted to write a novel.

Perhaps this was the biggest swerve of all. This is a story of who really becomes Radiant Black. Nathan’s friend, Marshall.

If you have not picked up Radiant Black #4 yet, you are in luck. Second, and soon-to-be third printings will be available of all issues. Kudos to the team at Image, and to Higgins, Costa, and Carey for creating this truly excellent story.

Radiant Black #4 is now available at your local comic book retailer.

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