"The Black Hood #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Circle Comics
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos
2015, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 27th, 2015
There are a number of events that led Philadelphia Police Officer Greg Hettinger to the graveyard where he is literally fighting for his life against two mob goons. His world has been more than a little hectic after he killed the vigilante known as the Black Hood. Since then, he's been on a downward spiral between his face being horrifically scarred from the fight and a growing addiction to pain medication; his best bet was picking up the mask left behind and dealing out some street justice, right? Now he's struggling to put the pieces together to find the man that framed him before everything falls apart. No pressure, Greg.
The tension has built steadily over the course of The Black Hood as we have been watching the main character descend into vigilantism. The mask has become his life preserver in a sea of despair. It's the one constant in his life and now he's about to lose that too unless he can stop this mob boss known only as “The Connection” that's been pulling the strings in the shadows. It's tough watching Hettinger go through this because this is the last thing he has left.
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There's this great moment in the graveyard fight where Hettinger is unmasked. Artist Michael Gaydos captured so much in this one panel. The man's face is filled with a mixture of surprise and grief as he watches his security blanket ripped away. This is immediately followed by a panel where that expression has been replaced with one of determination. The lone piece of inner monologue reads, “There was no turning back at that point.” This is the very moment that Hettinger embraces this new life completely. It's the making of a hero...then he smashes in a dude's face with a brick.
This is the penultimate issue in the first arc, so writer Duane Swierczynski is building to the climax. You almost feel sorry for the mysterious “Connection” and the rest of his cronies because the Black Hood is about to unleash hell upon them. His only choice is to stop them once and for all or go down as a disgraced junkie cop. His life and dignity are on the line. This is more brutal than the Punisher, as Hettinger is using little more than his fists. He's ready to beat the living crap out of these people. He's not going to just bust in the door and start shooting an automatic weapon. This is personal.
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I'm beginning to think that the sun never shines in Philadelphia. If this comic is any indication, it's perpetual night and always dreary. Gaydos does a great job establishing the tone of The Black Hood. It goes hand-in-hand with Hettinger's demeanor.
The Black Hood is a damn fine origin story. Swierczynski establishes this character from the heart instead of sitting through a bunch of exposition or flashbacks. You get to witness the actual birth of an urban vigilante. You see him lose everything and slowly begin building himself back up. Now we wait to see just how much bloodshed is in store for the story arc's finale.
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