The Black Hood #1
Dark Circle Comics
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Michael Gaydos
Letters: Rachel Deering
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Above Cover: Francesco Frankavilla
So Much History!
The Black Hood has been around a pretty long time! I'm talking Golden Age long time! Originally published by the company what would become Archie Comics, The Black Hood was created in the 40's and throughout time has faded in and out of the comic book scene, going through various publishers in the process (including DC Comics and various Archie imprints). His most recent appearance before this book was in the DC Comics' Mighty Crusaders line of comics, which featured a number of new, unique, and resurrected (publication wise, not life wise) heroes. Well, The Black Hood has since returned home to Archie Comics, and is the first to debut the Dark Circle Comics imprint. He will be preceeded by the Fox and the Shield in the coming months.
Duane Swierczynski writes this first issue, which is a perfect fit based off of his expert depictions of some of Marvel's street vigilantes/heroes such as Moon Knight, The Punisher, and Iron Fist. Michael Gaydos has a style that fits Swierczynski's writing perfectly, providing necessary gritty atmospheres as seen in his work on Marvel Comics' Alias, DC Comics' Manhunter and the obscure Virgin Comics' title Snake Woman: Tale of the Snake Charmer.
What Happens In It?
Gregory Hettinger is a cop who sees what he thinks is a small gang related brawl near an elementary school. With the protection of the kids on his mind, he steps in to break up the fight (which is between three regularly dressed individuals, and a man in a black hood). While intervening he ends up on the wrong side of a shotgun and gets half has face smacked with buckshot. The man in the black hood punches the fellow with the shotgun and Gregory, still unsure of the situation, fires at and kills the hooded figure before going unconsicous. Gregory wakes up bandaged and in the hospital, with Captain explaining that the man he killed was named Kip Burland (which was the name of the original Black Hood since the very beginning), a vigilante who the cops have been trying to nail for a long time. Greg finally gets his bandages removed to see that part of his face has been evicerated, and with it some of his speech skills. A nice woman named Jessie begins to teach him how to speak again and he returns to work. His lackluster, lonely life is slowly starting to fit back into place, until he starts to give in to the pain.
Look, you can tell that The Black Hood is going to become a hero (or vigilante anti-hero as the case may be) but what Swierczynski does here is create a man who is just a man. A man who got shot, who had a way of life, and is going to get thrust out of that way of life. Gregory is damaged, drug addled, and totally believable. Like, Brubaker relatable. Swierczynski dangles the carrot for the readers by showing Gregory's descent but also his potential happiness if he is to develop his relationship with Jessie more. There is a strong story building here, further amplified by the heavily narrated (in the best way possible) contents.
But How Does it Look?
It looks damn good. As I mentioned earlier, Gaydos has a gritty art style which dials the atmosphere level up to 10. Further emphasizing the feelings that Swierczynski is trying to convey, Gregory's face shows immense pain as well as a clear uneasiness from taking another man's life. Also, quick side note, Gaydos can really draw the hell out of a police uniform, these cops look like they mean business. Of course, Fitzpatrick's colors add to the experience, enhancing those atmosphere's as if to show the bleak world which Gregory himself sees. Fitzpatrick and Gaydos also have a very respectable understanding of light sources and how they effect the shading of characters.
The Verdict Is...
This is an EXCELLENT start to the new Dark Circle line by Archie Comics. The Black Hood shows a dark flawed character that people can understand and enjoy reading about. Not only that but Swierczynski and Gaydos have shown us exactly what to expect from the Dark Circle imprint, and the expectation is damn good. By killing the original Black Hood these creators have provided a character that now belongs to this generation which will further connect readers with this line of comics. I look forward to seeing how The Black Hood develops, and further seeing that quality from an Archie Comics brand that we have all come to expect. Issue 1 was released on 2/25 and the cover price is $3.99. Here are the other covers!
Michael Gaydos & Howard Chaykin
Michael Gaydos & David Mack
JUST SO YOU KNOW:
Just a heads up, I'm travelling this coming week so no posts and no podcast. I will return the next week though with posts AND podcasts! (Well... one podcast)