Black Hood

Greg Hettinger, a.k.a. The Black Hood thought he could run from the violence. But now he finds himself running across the country from a merciless assassin who calls himself The Nobody. Greg not only has to figure out the identity of his would-be killer, but also his connection to the original Black Hood—which means going to the one place Greg vowed he never visit again: home.

Black Hood #2The Black Hood Season 2 #2
“The Nobody Murders Pt. 2”

Written by Duane Swierczynski

Art by Gregg Scott
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Lettering by Rachel Deering
Published by Dark Circle Comics, an imprint of Archie Comics

Writing

Crime comics are at an all-time high, especially with masters like Ed Brubaker and Greg Ruka putting out frequent work. We can now add Duane Swierczynski to that group. Swierczynski is no stranger to the genre, having written several crime fiction novels. He also wrote a few comics for Marvel. But Black Hood is something different. It’s a harmonious fusing of a noir tale and a vigilante story. The narration is exquisitely hardboiled, but it’s paced like an action comic, with plenty of gun fights, intense face-offs, and dramatic reveals. Main character Greg is also filled with the tragic pathos so inherent in comics, his origin filled with guilt and remorse. Having access to his thoughts fleshes out the character, giving us a protagonist we can both root for, but also question. His mental state is obviously unbalanced, and he is not just a typical “man who has been wronged.” It’s layered writing, and dense plotting, with an even pacing that gives you an intense reading experience.

Art

Gregg Scott and Kelly Fitzpatrick are really bringing their A game to this book. Their art here is comparable to Sean Phillips and Michael Lark (whom I consider to be the best modern crime comic artists we have). The panel layouts here are deceptively simple. It doesn’t seem flashy, but when you stop and look at them, you see why it works. With its subtle changes in size, and thick, hand drawn borders, the grid work gives it the feel of gritty crime drama. It allows the characters to really inhabit the space on the page, allowing the reader to focus on details like body position and even facial expression.

The color is phenomenal and brings in a level of atmosphere that can only be described as cinematic in scope. You feel like you can see the yellow street lights luridly shining in the California night. Neon seems to glow off the page. Interiors feel dark and claustrophobic. The darkness feels real. This is quality, quality stuff.

The action and violence also burst with appropriate excitement. When they come out of nowhere it feels shocking. Again, it’s like reading a movie.

Conclusion

This is a must add to your pull list. Dark Circle Comics are creating an identity with quality, sophisticated and grown up books. Black Hood is a definite read if you love stuff like Criminal, Kill or Be Killed, Stray Bullets, or Garth Ennis’ classic Punisher runs.

You can pick up The Black Hood and other Dark Circle Comics here or at your local comics shop.

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Manny Gomez is a freelance writer based out of Florida’s west coast. He obsessively reads interviews, binge watches TV shows, loves comics, movies, punk rock, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, detective novels and the mythology of baseball. His best friend is a dog.

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