"The Black Hood #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Circle Comics
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos
2015, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 22nd, 2015
Officer Greg Hettinger's life has been circling the drain for some time. Ever since he took a shotgun blast to the face stopping the vigilante known as the Black Hood, he's gone from bad to worse. He's battling depression and an addiction to pain killers while dealing with the fact that half his face looks like hamburger meat. All that was before he was framed for a drug bust. Now he's taken up the mantle of the Black Hood to find the man responsible for this and bring him to justice.
The first couple issues of The Black Hood have been a slow burn. They've shown the life of this former hero cop as it spiraled out of control before turning to masked crime-fighting as a way of fighting his inner demons. Where he once dabbled in vigilantism, Hettinger now fully embraces it. He's a one-man army, shaking down drug peddlers and asking them all the same question: Who is above you? He wants to find the man at the top and he's willing to stop at nothing to do so.
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We have yet to catch a glimpse of this man in the shadows pulling all the strings in the Philadelphia organized crime arena. Any time he's appeared, the scene has been from his point of view. This might be because I've been binge-watching Daredevil on Netflix, but he's very reminiscent of Wilson Fisk in that regard. Hettinger is hoping that he'll beat the crap out of enough thugs to get the boss to come out of hiding.
Hettinger looks so damn intimidating in his Black Hood outfit. It's not a terrific costume as far as super heroes go, but it's practical and realistic. This is the kind of thing that someone in his position would put together. Real people don't have access to whatever the hell Captain America's costume is made out of. They have to make due with what's readily available. In Hettinger's case, it's dark clothes and the hood that he got as a gag gift. It's really nothing more than a piece of cloth with two eye holes jaggedly cut out, partially revealing his scarred face beneath. I'm actually a little curious as to how he fights crime in it because it seems like the kind of material that would move around a lot.
Hettinger's whole demeanor changes as he dives into his new role as a masked vigilante. Taking the law into his own hands has really turned his life around. He's like a chipper version of Batman, but without all the money and gadgets. Artist Michael Gaydos brings this out in the character. There are far fewer panels where Hettinger is moping about, staring into space. Now there's a brightness in his eyes that's been absent for the duration of the series. Those dark moments still creep in, but not nearly as much.
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That's not to say that The Black Hood is suddenly a cheerful, fun comic. This is still a story of a man who has lost almost everything. He's desperate and ready to do something crazy, as evidenced by the fact that he's now wearing a mask and beating up drug dealers. I have a feeling that things aren't quite as dark as they can be though. So far, Hettinger has dealt with low-level thugs. He's making enough noise to get noticed and the mysterious mob boss isn't going to take that sitting down. The hammer is going to be brought down and it's going to be bloody.
The Black Hood continues to be the most realistic take on masked crime-fighting. It's gritty, but not in the overused way we've seen describe certain modern day comic book movies. It's rough around the edges, focused on a flawed character that's grasping on to this mask as a lifeline, albeit a bloody and incredibly violent one.