January 22, 2013

Dark Horse Reviews: The Black Beetle #1

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Written by: Billy
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The Black Beetle #1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Francesco Francavilla
Artist: Francesco Francavilla

When the news first came out that Francesco Francavilla was going to be writing and doing the artwork for a new pulp series, I personally didn’t need any convincing. Not that most did, and anyone that’s seen his work can testify about his greatness. You could just assume that if his writing was half as good as his art, you were in for a ride. The Black Beetle #0 was great, and this follow up kept the pace easily. All out action, but also a solid story with plenty of intrigue. The hero, The Black Beetle, is a mix of Batman and Indiana Jones. No joke, he’s that cool. From gadgets to his attitude, he’s the kind of hero everyone should want around! In this issue, he meets his match, as he’s trying to solve the murder of several crime bosses that he was about to get to squeal, or so he hoped.

Typically second issues in a series are a letdown. The story usually slows along with the action, but not here. This issue had a ton of action in it, and still kept the story very strong. The lead character is tough, smart, and even a bit cocky. This adds up to him being believable, yet also somewhat vulnerable. In the end, he’s just a regular guy, so he must rely on gadgets and brains over superhuman powers.

Artistically, Francavilla does a fantastic job. His style is perfect for a pulp book, so he had to be chomping at the bit for this one. The dark settings and shady looking criminals are exactly what you’d expect and want. The splash page where the Black Beetle is loading his guns was absolutely crazy good. It has “poster” (below) written all over it!

The entire book had a Batman feel to it, but that’s not a bad thing or to say it didn’t have a life of its own. A few similarities, definitely, but nothing that was too over the top. This book fits right into that same category of The Shadow and The Spider (Dynamite). Great pulp books with fantastic creative teams behind them. This one was certainly nothing short of brilliant! Rating 5/5

Billy Dunleavy



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