Review: The Black Hood #1

I’ve said this before, but I don’t read a lot of super hero titles. There are certain companies though that when they approach the genre I’m interested. Dark Horse is one of those companies and Archie with their Dark Circle Comics is another. The thing that both of those companies have in common is Duane Swierczynski. Swierczynski re-launched X for Dark Horse and now he’s re-launching The Black Hood. Here’s what I knew going into The Black Hood #1… he existed before this and his design was sometimes cool and most of the time not. That’s basically it.

What’s interesting is that Swiercynski in a way closes out the previous Black Hood in this issue as he introduces us to the future Black Hood Officer Gregory Hettinger. The story kicks off with Gregory or just Greg answering a call about a fight breaking out between a hooded man and some gang members next to a school. All he could think about on his way to the call was that classes were in. When he arrives the situation gets more out of control and he takes a shotgun blast to the face. It doesn’t kill him, but it gives him that lovely face that you’ve seen covered.

BlackHood_01-0What works for this story is that it’s heavily grounded in reality. Both the old Black Hood and our future Black Hood are just men. Just men with some obvious demons that they’re battling and that’s it. They don’t have powers or money.

This issue doesn’t show Greg becoming the Black Hood. It explores his mindset so that we as the reader will believe his transition into the character. By the end of the first issue you will definitely feel like you know Greg. You’ll feel for him and frankly I can’t wait to see what Swiercynski has planned for him. There’s this big hanging thread that he leaves dangling in front of you, but we don’t get to pull it yet.

I’m sure there are some people who don’t like Michael Gaydos’ artwork, but those people are crazy. I’ve always enjoyed Gaydos and I’m glad to see him on a monthly title again because there is just something about his art that fills a void in my monthly reading.

Gritty and dark have been a staple in comics for a long time now, so much so that when an artist such as Gaydos really embodies that style people are almost numb to the words. I’ve never been to Philadelphia, but Gaydos’ artwork takes me there. This comic lives and breathes in the real world. Gaydos is the perfect fit for this story and has become an amazing sequential storyteller.

I don’t know if Kelly Fitzpatrick has colored Gaydos before, but damn she makes his art pop. Fitzpatrick has a knack for coloring complex art styles without making it muddy or diminishing the artwork in any way. Here the coloring works with the art to make it look like photos from the real world. The coloring on Greg’s face later in the book is just fantastic as it adds a visual depth to the character.

I’ve been looking forward to checking out the Dark Circle line of books and after this issue I will definitely be back for more of The Black Hood and the rest of the line. If you’re looking for a truly realistic, dark and gritty superhero title that doesn’t play to the clichés then check out The Black Hood #1.

Score: 5/5

The Black Hood #1 Writer: Duane Swierczynski Artist: Michael Gaydos Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick Publisher: Archie/Dark Circle Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/25/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital