Big Spells, Bigger Swords: Should You Be Reading ‘Black Clover’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
What if Harry Potter was a knight and also kinda dumb? That’s the logline for Yuki Tabata’s Black Clover, an action romp that doubles down on shonen (boys’) tropes to create a fun adventure that sucks you in no matter how familiar it seems.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Two boys, Asta and Yuno, have grown up in an orphanage on the outskirts of the Clover Kingdom, where just about everyone can use magic. The two are polar opposites: Yuno is tall, handsome and taciturn; Asta is short, loud and stubborn. The only trait they share is a desire to become the Wizard King. But while Yuno is a highly praised prodigy, Asta has no magical talent at all.
At a ceremony to see which of the many squads that make up the Kingdom’s Order of the Magic Knights the young wizards will get picked for, Asta, Yuno, and others receive their grimoires: spellbooks drawn to a person’s magic type that help determine their potential. Yuno gets a rare four-leaf clover grimoire, getting him into the prestigious Golden Dawn squad.
But Asta shocks everyone by getting an even rarer five-leaf clover grimoire with the power of anti-magic. Basically, he kills any attack with a giant black energy sword. Despite his raw talent, Asta is shunted off to the worst squad of knights, the Black Bulls. From there, it’s a race to the top full of dungeon-crawling, enemy mages, and zombies. Yeah, there are zombies in this. Zombies named Carl.
WHO’S IT BY?
Yuki Tabaka has been drawing manga since 2001, and Black Clover is his second series to run in the Holy Grail of manga, Weekly Shonen Jump. While his last series, Hungry Joker, was cancelled after 24 chapters in 2013 due to low enthusiasm and heavy criticism, Black Clover has only increased in popularity since debuting in Japan in February 2015.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The world of shonen manga is as insular as superhero comics. Black Clover stands on the shoulders of Bleach and Naruto with its fantastical setting, large sprawling casts, and mix of lengthy battles and comedy, just as those series build on Dragon Ball (with its fantastical setting, large cast and so on).
Obvious influences aside, Clover stands out due to Tabaka’s skill at breathing life into stock character types and an ability to draw the heck out of emotional flashbacks and huge fight scenes.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Anybody who misses Naruto and wants a good old-fashioned shonen story; anybody who likes the goofy charm of Fairy Tail but doesn’t want to plow through all of that; kids who love Pokemon and are eyeing Dragon Quest; fantasy fans; teenagers.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
Black Clover has run since April in Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine. New Jump issues drop every Monday at the official website and on Comixology for just $0.99. Yearly subscriptions are also available via the Viz and Weekly Shonen Jump mobile apps. Viz will publish the series in book form beginning in June 2016.