The first issue of The Black Hood really impressed me. I think over the years Duane Swierczynski has improved as a comic book writer and he no longer takes as long to warm up on a series. The second issue of The Black Hood was the polar opposite of the first issue, but in the best way possible. And guess what? This third issue is vastly different from the first two, but each one works. We continue with Greg’s arrest which is just an amazing scene. Not because of the visuals, not because of what it means overall for the story (though it is important). No, it’s the narration. It’s the fact that Greg points out what they’re doing. They’re intentionally taking their time and making sure that there’s plenty of photos and news reel for the next day. It’s interesting and Greg’s narration continues to be one of the strongest things about this series and Swierczynski’s writing.
The union rep gets Greg released and while it would be an obvious set up if Greg wasn’t a junkie, the fact is he is. His speech therapist doesn’t give up on him and he finally lets her into his house and she makes him pay for missing sessions, but it’s good. It’s good character development and while the typical patient falls for nurse/doctor angle is in effect, it doesn’t feel like a cliché here.
Greg’s put on a desk and his former partner is the only one that still treats him normal. Because he’s riding a desk though, he can’t figure out who’s behind framing him. At least not with his day job. There’s a change to Greg and frankly I loved the transition. He’s still on pills, but only his scrips and only to hold the pain at bay. The analogy that Swierczynski uses is so damn good. Greg continues with therapy and eventually goes out as the Black Hood to shake down drug dealers and asking them all the same question, “Who is above you?”
This is a different type of superhero book. In fact I have a hard time calling it that. It’s more of a vigilante/anti-hero book. Right now the world that Swierczynski’s created is exciting, but surprisingly clean. The story hasn’t gone to shit yet, but it’s coming. I know it’s coming because it has to. I kind of don’t want it to though. I want to just carry on with Greg’s narrations and his empty life. I don’t want super villains or damsels introduced, but rather just Greg balancing his life as a cop and the Black Hood.
I’ve lost count of how many series Swierczynski is writing at the moment, but I would really have to say that his is his best at the moment. The narration alone is a highlight in the industry because Swierczynski shows that not only can you use it, but you can tell a story without it. That’s the thing about good narration, it should amplify the story not take over and while it doesn’t seem like that while reading it, really that’s all it’s doing. The art is doing the rest.
Speaking of which oh man I’ve missed Michael Gaydos on a monthly series. I know I said that in my first review, but it’s still true. I’ll keep saying it until it stops feeling that way. Gaydos is so much of the tone for the series. I hope that Dark Circle has locked him in for a long time on this series, because his art really is that important. I can’t think of another artist that can step in and have the same effect.
In particular I love the panels that are from Black Hood’s POV. They’re incredibly powerful and different from a typical superhero book. It puts you in the shoes of the Black Hood even if it’s just for a moment. The coloring is also fantastic and makes Gaydos’ artwork look photorealistic. I can’t stress enough just how important the art is to this story.
It’s not too late to jump on The Black Hood. I know some are like isn’t that the Archie book on that one imprint and yes, yes it is. And you know what? It’s one of the best damn superhero books I’ve read in a long time. Not since Warren Ellis’ run on Moon Knight have I wanted to read a series more than I do The Black Hood right now.