Review: The Black Beetle – Vol. 1: “No Way Out”

I had been putting off reading Black Beetle for quite some time now. I really don’t even know why. Probably because I get overwhelmed with my stack of comics to read, this one always ended up on the bottom. With Volume 1 coming out, I found it the perfect time to just force myself to read the whole thing. I most times find it easier to push-off a comic until the Volumes come out. I think Black Beetle is that exact comic that you should wait for the volumes release to read. I am not trying to make a bad comment about the comic; I think the story fits better when it is one issue after the next completing the full story. Some stories are one-shots, some are individual comics, and some are volume reads. Let me first tell you a little about the story to explain my reasoning. City: Colt City, USA. Time period: World War II. Hero: Black Beetle. Villain: Labyrinto. Cool Scale: Awesome just above totally rad. We jump right into the action when a group of bandits is trying to steal some lizard amulet from the local museum. Dr. Howard is watching over the lizard studying its origins. Of course, she is soon on the hideout from the gang. This is where the Black Beetle steps in. Honestly, being Beetle doesn’t really appeal to all people, but I have to say how taken back I was by his coolness. The uniform is sweet, the gadgets are fun, and the symbol is intriguing.

The Black Beetle Vol. 1 CoverThe comic has that old-time feeling to it. Francesco Francavilla captivates me with his dusty style. Here, I didn’t feel thrown backwards and uncomfortable being there. Instead I jumped right into the wartime period and happily fell in love with those misleading death tales. It was interesting that the comic didn’t have an origin story, but I was thrilled to see that not a page was wasted on talking about the Beetle’s past. It would have felt overdone. Plus I will be real and admit that the comic mimics Batman. He is a dark knight creeping the streets as an animal, while the city is unsure if they should trust him. If there was some sort of flashback to his childhood, it would have ruined the separation of the two stories.

We then catch up with the Beetle trying to stop Colt City’s two big-time warlords into deciding the fate of crime in the city. In one corner we have Don Pasquale Galazzo who owns The Roxy Club. And in the other corner we have Faccia D’Angelo; owner of the Coco Club. The Coco Club holds one of the city’s top singers, Ms. Ava Sheridan. I got the vibe that she was an important character, but we only saw her for a brief moment. Then I read that she will be a key player in the Francavilla’s next volume. So your suspicions are right when seeing her. Right before the Beetle gets to the boys the building blows up. Suspects are everywhere, and it eventually leads the Beetle on a wild goose chase. He finally pins it on the villain known as Labyrinto.

I love the villain in this series. His costume is exactly his name, a maze of sorts that covers his entire body. His first victim is Galazzo’s cousin, Costantino. This cat is so scared of Labyrinto that he actually turns himself in to avoid being killed. Well better luck next time cousin. Then when the Beetle thinks he spots Faccia at the Coco Club, we all think that he is the one responsible for the Labyrinto and the recent deaths. The story leads to much reveals about every death.

The story has lots of twist which are thrilling to see unfold. Mistaken identity is one of those old-time story hooks. I haven’t read a comic that had the feeling of the old times and still keep me reading in a while, so I thank Francavilla for that one. The Black Beetle is an addicting read. And in order to enjoy it, I think the volume works out nicely, because the story flows so well. If I had to read it issue by issue, I think I would lose interest with how fast paced you can read it. The story ends, but it definitely leaves small cliff hangers in order to grab your attention for the next ride. My hope is that Labyrinto will be coming back, which is pretty certain. But either way, The Black Beetle offers some entertainment for superhero lovers all around.

Score: 4/5

Writer/Artist/Creator: Francesco Francavilla Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $19.99 Release Date: 10/16/13