[Check out our previous reviews of this series!]
After a slight break, the acclaimed book that proved Archie Comics was dead serious about launching an adult toned imprint with Dark Circle Comics is back with a roaring stand alone issue. It’s sure to please fans of the title, as well as provide a jumping on point for newcomers (although as it is only issue 6, it’s still pretty easy to nab the previous back issues and get in from the start).
Lead man Greg, away from Philadelphia after the opening five-issue arc, is now in sunny Southern California, checked into a top drug rehab clinic to cope with his addiction problem. Trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, and another member of his drug rehab group confides in him, thinking they are going to be bumped off by a cartel member sent undercover to give them the big sleep. A very noir-vibed story plays out, which we will leave spoiler free here, but it provides a stunning conclusion and interesting moral dilemma for our hero.
Duane Swierczynski seems unstoppable thus far on this title, delivering the goods when needed, and showing us he can write not just a fantastic long-form tale like his previous connecting five issues, but also an amazing one-off. A good example of how not everything in this genre needs to be made for trade collections, as the current industry model is driven.
On the art, some fans may have seen that Howard Chaykin was illustrating this one-off issue and went “Whaaaaaaaaa?!“, because his art looks nothing like what Gaydos did the past five issues. Now, they would not initially be wrong, because, yes, it looks nothing like the past five books. That said, upon getting a few pages in, everything makes sense. Chaykin’s art provides an almost dream-like quality to contrast how the sunny West Coast has traditionally been presented in American pop culture’s media since the 1940s. By the end of the book, Chaykin’s style has enhanced this one-off. More than just needing to pull him in to replace Gaydos, it is actually quite a well calculated and planned move due to the source material, which again is a tip of the hat to the Dark Circle creative staff for thinking things through, and trying to please its growing fan base while creating smart books for adults.
Overall, The Black Hood remains one of the few books in the industry that currently has what could be described as a perfect run, and is still trucking to our delight without any setbacks. It’s worth the time and money to include it in your buy pile every month if you have not checked it out.
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars