Darkness Fails and Falls: a “Black Hood Season 2 #1” (Review)

Oct 22, 2016

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stl015989Black Hood Season 2 #1
Archie Comics

Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Greg Scott
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick

Black Hood is a bit of an acquired taste. Not that it’s off, it’s just a bit more pulpy and nostalgic in its format and presentation than some might be used to. And I find that the more that I talk and write about it, the more I like it. Black Hood is a story of a cop who dons a…you guessed it…black hood to take on organized crime and other evil-doers. It reads like an 80s cop movie or show. The big reveal last season was that the Black Hood that we had been following was actually not the first Black Hood. Rather, Greg Hettinger is actually the cop who errantly killed the original Black Hood. Regretting his error, Greg took up the mask himself, partially because his face was mutilated in the encounter with the original Hood at a bust gone wrong. In his ensuing tales, Hettinger crossed the path of an assassin named Nobody, who, having been foiled, has become obsessed with finding the Hood. Even though Hettinger was run off from his old stomping grounds and is trying to leave killing and crime-fighting behind.

Swierczynski weaves a good yarn. There is no getting around that this is a crime comic, and Swierczynski keeps it dark, gritty, and on the nose. Hettinger is not too different from many other main blackhood-seasontwo_01-5characters in this style of comic, or just this kind of story in general, and the writer does not flail himself about trying to make huge, off-tone, efforts to differentiate him. This comic feels solidly grounded in a tale that could have been told in 1956 as easily it is being told in 2016. Swierczynski just focuses on telling a good crime story, and it succeeds with aplomb. One of the reasons why is because he does not shy away from the current criticism of there being too much exposition in comics. Swierczynski applies the right amount, which, admittedly, is more than super-hero comics might warrant, because it is the right voice and style for this genre of book. It’s good stuff, and I found myself wanting nothing more than for Hettinger to be granted the peace and solitude that he so desperately seeks. One thing that comes through in Swierczynski’s writing is the sense of tragedy that comes when you try to do a good thing, but just want to do it and have it end and move on. Greg Hettinger has uncorked something in his fight against crime, and while he has paid for it in spades, while his family and friends have left him, my sense is that he’s just going to have to own it. Or die. And that makes for great, modern day tragedy.

blackhood02Scott and Fitzpatrick are given a difficult task. Readers these days are not necessarily fans of stories that only take place at night, or where things are simply in a shadowed motif for the duration of the comic. But of course that is mostly what Black Hood is. While there were a handful of daytime panels as I came in on the end of Season 1, this first issue of Season Two is almost entirely at night. It is not an easy challenge to surmount, but Scott and Fitzpatrick pull off a good job, that is very specific in its style and approach. One major thing about this kind of book is that you cannot get away with non-realism. When you are doing a super-hero comic, you get a bit of a bye, because the reader belief is inherently suspended. Attention to the details of the real world, particularly in the physics of how clothes, hair, and shadows move under sparse lighting are things we are not always treated to in capes comics. But it is here in full force. I would say that a reader should read this comic, and then flip through it without reading, just to catch all of the nuanced details in the art work. It’s pretty amazing, and can easily go under appreciated if you do not isolate y our observation to those specific details on at least one pass-through.

If you are looking for a crime comic, this is definitely one to get. The genre has had a great run this year, with things like Assassin’s Creed Templars and The Black Monday Murders paving the way prior to this book’s release. Wait. Funny how all those comics have Black in their title or have a main character named Black something or other. I guess it’s a thing in 2016. Anyway, I can easily recommend that readers check out Black Hood Season 2 #1. It’s solid, and a great jumping on point. And if you feel the need to go back, there is a trade coming, although I have not been able to nail down an availability date yet. And of course the Season 1 singles are available all over the place.