by Duane Swierczynski, Michael Gaydos, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Rachel Deering
The first 20 seconds as the new Black Hood were a rousing success… then again, I had the element of WTF on my side.
Stealing the signature from fellow contributor Dan Leicht seemed fitting as an introduction to this review. The reason that is so fitting is simply this: The Black Hood has the element of WTF on its side and in the best way possible. When you think about heroes, super or otherwise, and you think about origin stories you don’t think of this. This is something different and all in its own category. The Black Hood is something special.
Duane Swierczynski follows up the series debut with an even stronger issue and a direction with the perfect level of realness and grit to make any fan of this genre take notice. Swierczynski is taking risks and it’s paying off in a big way. In fact, if you take a look at the letters section in the back, apparently Mrs. Swierczynski’s baby boy is the first writer to drop the f-bomb in an Archie comic. Yeah, if that isn’t risky, who can truly say what is. Though, this branch off from Archie Comics, Dark Circle Comics, is something new and fresh all on its own and with Swierczynski and The Black Hood leading the charge only good things lay ahead for Dark Circle. With just two issues, Swierczynski has made you care about this character, faults and all, and that’s not something that happens often enough in comics, especially within the, for lack of a better term, superhero genre.
Both Michael Gaydos and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick seemed to have picked up on Swierczynski stepping up his game after issue one, because they too have surpassed their previous outing. It’s amazing how quickly Gaydos’ style truly grows on you, especially considering just how different it is from, arguably, everything else that is available right now. It’s so in tune with the story and the feel that Swierczynski is going for that no other artist, at least any that come to mind, will do until this series wraps. The textures, the shadows, the faces and expressions are all just expertly spot on that there might not be anything more you could ask for in comic book art. Layered beautifully on top of that are Kelly Fitzpatrick’s fantastically chosen colors. The additional shading and levels she adds are subtle, but still play heavily on the story and the overall look and feel that’s been established. Even her color choices and execution for something as easily overlooked as police lights were marvelous and absolutely jumped off the page.
Much like the Afterlife With Archie series that changed the landscape before it, The Black Hood is treading its own path and changing the landscape. The entire creative team is doing something different; something that is not what you expect, but something that more than demands your attention. Anybody that might write this off because of the attachment to Archie Comics has another thing coming. This is another giant in the making and if you missed the bus on Afterlife, make sure you’re on it for The Black Hood.