REVIEW: The Black Hood #1

The Black Hood #1
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Michael Gaydos
Published by Archie Comics/Dark Circle

I know what some of you are thinking, “Archie is doing superhero books?” Yes, and if their work on their other titles, particularly the critically acclaimed Afterlife With Archie, are any indication, the new line of books, beginning with The Black Hood are going to be a hit.

I’m a huge fan of Duane Swierczynski’s work, particularly some of the Bloodshot stories he has written for Valiant, and I have to say his style is a perfect fit for this type of story. The Black Hood is gritty and emotional tale that reads more like a noir movie script than your average superhero story, and it is brilliant. While I tend to dislike stories that rely heavily on exposition through inner monologues, Swierczynski does a great job at pushing the story forward through series protagonist Greg Hettinger’s, a Philadelphia police officer, point of view as he deals with being shot in the face by a group of thugs while on duty, and being deemed a hero by the mayor and the people of his city, all while dealing with the emotional fallout of being horribly disfigured as a result of the assault.

Michael Gaydos’ art is such a great fit for this story. There is a lot of jumping back and forth between light and dark panels which really help show the type of emotional situation that Hettinger is in. Some of my favorite panels are during the press conference naming Hettinger a hero. In those pages, Gaydos really manages to convey the duplicity of everyone attending as they smile while looking at the cameras, but secretly disgusted with Hettinger’s disfigured face. This could all be in Hettinger’s mind of course, but Gaydos really sells Swierczynski’s script through his visual storytelling. They say that what makes a story great is the ability to show instead of telling the story, something which Gaydos has definitely achieved.

While The Black Hood may have debuted during the golden age of comics, don’t think that this is just a tired rehash of old characters and concepts. Swierczynski and Gaydon have done an amazing job at updating the book to modern times, and creating one of the most polished and emotional books of 2015. If this title is any indication of what’s to come, I expect a lot of people will be adding Archie and Dark Circle books to their pull list. The Black Hood #1 is a must read.

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