"The Black Hood #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Archie Comics
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos
2015, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 25th, 2015
You'd think that getting half his face blown off while on duty would be the low point in officer Greg Hettinger's life. That was before he got hooked on pain killers and decided to try his hand as the new Black Hood, taking justice into his own hands. This certainly isn't a squeaky clean super hero origin story. Hettinger's story only gets darker and there doesn't appear to be a light at the end of this tunnel.
Although Hettinger opens a whole new can of worms by putting on a mask, his real troubles started with the drug addiction. He had gotten to the point where he was stealing them from dealers, and if The Wire has taught me anything, it's that you don't steal from drug dealers. (Unless you're Omar, because he can get away with it.) These actions have caught the attention of the local mob bosses and they're not going to stand for this kind of disrespect, even if this guy is a cop. They put a genius scheme together to get even.
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Writer Duane Swierczynski paints a very grim picture of vigilante life for Hettinger. This isn't a glamorous adventure. This is a brutal beatdown drenched in blood. This is ten times what movie executives look for when they want to make a “gritty reboot” of something. Hettinger was pushed so far that he snapped and went out to fight bad guys while wearing a mask, but he still in a drug induced haze. He's broken. That's what makes him so interesting. He's not a tortured soul. He's a man that has had a string of bad luck and he can't right the ship of his life to get back to some semblance of normalcy. Instead he's gone the other direction, embracing the insanity and diving right in with fists flying.
Michael Gaydos is the perfect artist for The Black Hood. His pencils work so well in this harsh world. He can set the tone of a scene with a single panel, speaking volumes. The shots of Hettinger sitting home alone say so much about his life. He has nothing left but these drugs and vigilante justice. His eyes are those of a man that has all but given up.
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There's a subtle effect in these pages that I didn't notice at first. The panels aren't contained with straight lines. It looks like Gaydos hand drew the borders around them. There are not clean cut static lines separating the images. They're real.
The Black Hood takes place in the dark alleys that gritty heroes like Batman or the Punisher forgot. It's filled with some evil human beings capable of ruining a man's life and yet, Hettinger's scarred face has become the least scary thing about this comic. Fans can quickly get over the novelty of seeing the F-word in an Archie comic and enjoy this riveting story of a man pushed to the brink with nothing else to lose. I can only imagine how bloody things are going to get.