REVIEW: The Black Hood: The Bullets Kiss Chapter 3

Script: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Michael Gaydos, Rachel Deering, Kelly Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dark Circle Comics (Archie Comics)
Release Date: 04/22/2015

You gotta love the versatility of comic books. In the same week we get a myriad of (non?) event tie-ins and adverts for up and coming movies, we also get an intense little crime drama such as this.

Greg Hettinger’s descent from hero cop to junkie cop finally takes a breather as he starts to use his head for something other than a shotgun target. With his junkie status now a matter of public record, it would be easier for him to crawl into his pill bottle than to face the world. Instead, his instincts take over and he begins to use the tools he has around him, including his speech therapist, the downtime and of course, the black hood.

Duane Swierczynski again is in top form, showing a radically different writer than those may expect after his time in superhero land. The script is tight, the monologue sounds genuine and does a great job of complimenting the art rather than just rehashing what is seen. I always worry where the transition issue is, you know the one, where nothing really happens and characters end up as they were at the start. But you can relax this isn’t that issue.

Art is supplied by Michael Gaydos and is sublime.  The focus of this book is characters and the art does nothing to distract from that goal.  The figures really pop from the page, with lines that whilst at first glance seem scratchy and uneven, only serves to create a lived in real world flavour.  The fact the city in question is named as Philadelphia also helps as does the Rocky element.  The only point at which I waiver giving 5 stars for the at is that the  style seems to alter when dealing with close-ups of faces, displaying some photo-esque details, suggesting that references for the characters were used.  I don’t really have a problem with that method, it’s just that in comparison to other parts of the book, it can be a tad jarring.  As always, I can’t mention the art without talking about the colours, supplied by Kelley Fitzpatrick, which again helps to accentuate the locale, creating the down and depressed visual to mirror the desperation and, in some places, anger of the protagonist.

Is the book perfect?  Not quite.  Critics may argue that having the speech therapist develop possible romantic intentions is clichéd and having Hettinger come across like Batman shows little imagination. But I would argue that there has to be someone who Hettinger cares about for the fear of loss to carry any emotional weight and truth be told, it is little refreshing to see a vigilante move away from his own personal crusade to help when he can, without the Uncle Ben moment. If you like your tales of retribution and vengeance wrapped in the cloak of chasing personal demons, this book is for you.

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