While last month saw the release of Night Shift, a collection of the original Black Beetle story from Dark Horse Presents, this week’s issue marks the beginning of a four-part miniseries called “No Way Out”. Everything about this series harkens back to pulp comics of the 1930s and 40s, from the sarcastic first-person narration to the retro solicits and ads.
Francesco Francavilla writes and draws Black Beetle, and his incredible talent at both makes this book really great. His protagonist is a combination of Batman, Phillip Marlowe, and a more eloquent Rorschach in a beetle uniform. The plot is wonderfully simple; before Black Beetle can crash a meeting between two of Colt City’s biggest crime lords, the pub they’re in explodes. Somebody else clearly knew about this get-together, and the Beetle has to find out who. A few interrogations and cool gadgets later, the comic wraps up with a cliffhanger (literally) that definitely has me hooked. The story and script are tight and convincing.
Francavilla’s artwork also fits this genre perfectly. It’s dark and heavy on the shadows, lending the book a classic, gritty noir aesthetic. There are also plenty of clever panel layouts, like the first-person view through Black Beetle’s huge red goggles. Check out the images below – they speak for themselves.
Any fan of classic pulp comics will love The Black Beetle. It’s full of action, mystery, great writing and the fantastic art that Francavilla is known for.