A traumatic shooting takes a police officer down a troubled path, leaving him scarred both physically and spiritually. How will he deal with it? Is it good?
The Black Hood #1 (Dark Circle Comics)
Duane Swierczynski’s name caught my eye. I enjoyed his run on Deadpool vs. X-Force and figured I would go ahead and give this new title from Dark Circle Comics a read through.
The book reads much like a journal entry being told from the protagonist’s perspective. There is very little dialogue although there is a very good plot reason for this. (The fact the protagonist can’t talk!) The book has exceptional pacing; each flip of the page pulls you further into the shoes of Gregory Heittinger, wondering where it will take him and how he will function.
Heittinger’s character is deeply compelling and this is an origin story right up there with Spiderman and Batman. It may be even a little better as he isn’t losing someone close to him, but rather himself. The issue follows him as he makes appearances, goes through rehab, and watches TV all the while trying to make sense of the act of violence he committed. There are a few other minor characters including his speech therapist and partner, but they are only briefly touched on as the focus of the issue is on Heittinger and the psychological toll this has taken on him.
Michael Gaydos’ artwork is very gritty and grainy with lots of shadowing. It has a noir feel to it. He provides a number of different camera angles from close-ups of Heittinger’s disfigured face, to over the shoulder looks to first person looks through the eyes of Heittinger. These different angles and perspectives give you the feeling of examining Heittinger and being able to know who he is, inside and out.
Colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick provides a dark foreboding mood throughout the book which complements Heittinger’s frame of mind. She uses lots of earth tones, especially shades of brown. There are no real bright colors — everything is subdued. Even when she colors the sky the sun is a dark orange as it is setting. She deploys a nice yellowish brown filter to mimic the look of a faded photo in order to show certain panels are taking place in the past.
There are some issues with the book. The opening sequence causes you to suspend your disbelief a little bit as he attempts to go Rambo without waiting for backup and apparently he had a partner who was AWOL on the day of the shooting. There are school kids wearing t-shirts with the name of their school plastered on the front; the students look like inmates instead of elementary school children. To make matters worse the school’s name sticks out like a sore thumb drawing your attention away from the foreground almost immediately. There are also a few panels that do not seem to match up to the narrative being told.
Is It Good?
Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos create a dark brooding hero who has lost his identity after a tragic shooting. The character development of Gregory Heittinger is the highlight of this issue. He is troubled, fearful, dependent, and lost, but he is able to find something within him to overcome and strive to do the right thing. His character exploration also examines the costs associated with PTSD and what it can do to an individual and it is not pretty. The artwork and coloring match the character creating a dark gloomy Philadelphia. However there were some setbacks including certain panels not matching up to the narrative as well as school children looking like prisoners wearing a very prominent (not in a good way) label describing what school they are from.
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