Months back Archie announced that in light of their successful title for adults Afterlife With Archie, they’d be relaunching their Red Circle heroes again, but this time under an adult imprint called Dark Circle Comics. Some rejoiced seeing the gem Afterlife With Archie turned out to be. Some frowned enjoying the New Crusaders all-ages relaunch from about 2 years ago, which was critically received but financially not. So now here comes the day we’ve been waiting for: their first title. The result: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With The Black Hood, Archie takes it’s Dark Circle comics line and gives Vertigo, Image and others a solid run for their money.
The first issue follows Greg Hettinger, a cop on the mean streets of Philadelphia. Not as much as a spoiler (stop here already if you want to know nothing else to do with this book), as it is the set up and premise of our story, but while witnessing what he believes is a fight between a few thugs by a school, ends ups taking a gun blast to his face, while taking down one of the “thugs”. Turns out the person Greg killed in defense was a gentleman known as Kip Burland, a.k.a. the vigilante known as the Black Hood! Greg survives the gun blast to the face, although now disfigured, and little by little he struggles with what he’s done, having both supporters and enemies for his actions, as he gets back to being himself. Unable to stand his own face he begins to wear a mask himself at home, increasing delusional under his pain killer addiction. Then one night, he hears some thugs outside…
The first issue of The Black Hood is a 4-star slam bang that will become a must buy for your pull lists. Swierczynski, whose also a best selling crime novelist for those unfamiliar with his name, a crafted a pulpy, gritty cop story, that echoes noir in it’s dialogue, wrapping the reader up in his words. Artist Gaydos, known for art on titles Alias and The Pulse, is smartly paired brining this story to life, everything feeling as gritty, grey and mean as it needs to be, between the explosions of violence, twists and turns.
Long time Red Circle fans will be intrigues right away that original has been killed off, giving birth to this new one. It was a sucker punch that draws us long time fans in, yet creates a new pallet for not just fans to get caught up in, but new readers whom now nothing of Archie’s super hero universe a jumping on point. Its new, fresh and requires no knowledge of anything that’s happened before, yet enough of a hat tip to long timers.
Dark Circle Comics has set a great bar here, let’s hope they can keep it going! The Black Hood #1 is available now.