Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Black Beetle #4

Thanks to several friends for recommending this title to me - I almost passed on The Black Beetle for the simple reason that it sounded like a ripoff of the Blue Beetle.

But aside from the word "Beetle," the two couldn't be more different. This character is a pulp-inspired hero created, written and drawn by Francesco Francavilla.

The inspiration for the Black Beetle seems more like an interesting mix of Batman and the Spirit - he's intelligent, a detective and a creature of the night with some high-tech gear, but he's definitely human and can be injured (and often is).

The real star of the comic, though, is the artwork. Dark and moody, featuring clever graphic designs and layouts, Francavilla's work evokes Alex Toth with perhaps a splash of Milton Caniff in there (can't give much higher praise than that) - but his is a unique style, perfect for the pulpish adventures of a hero in search of a mysterious killer.

It's great to see these kinds of pulp adventures making a comeback - there's a good reason why they continue to be popular more than six decades after the pulps themselves went away: they're hard-hitting, fast-paced and loaded with style.

If you missed the series, the good news is, the first four issues of Black Beetle will be collected soon - they're highly recommended!

Grade: A


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