Racing onto the scene just in time for summer is Sins of the Black Flamingo, a new detective noir set in sunny and very backward Florida U.S.A. It’s a new series by Andrew Wheeler and Travis Moore that blends the occult with a flamboyant and narcissistic thief who happens to be likable. It’s also the start of a series that feels wildly new while paying homage to past noir narratives.
Sins of the Black Flamingo opens with a couple seeking the Black Flamingo’s help. They dub it a “ridiculous” job, but Black Flamingo says “Ridiculous is what I do best.” It’s a smart opening that is called back to later, but before the mission starts, Wheeler and Moore deliver an excellent montage of Florida. Over five panels we see the beauty, the horror, the disturbed, and the defiled. Across two pages, Wheeler’s captions tell us what kind of America we’re about to embark on while Moore shows us just how over the top and loony it can all be.
This is a different kind of thief narrative largely because Black Flamingo is so extra. It also helps that they specialize in stealing magic artifacts. The issue quickly dives into his mission after Black Flamingo pontificates through captions (he’s a narcissist, remember) and soon the narrative is diving into Nazis. More specifically how prisoners baring the pink triangle weren’t free even after Germany was defeated, but put back in jail. This bit of info pays off later, but is also a stark reminder of how gay people have been treated even during the “good” times.
This issue also smartly gives readers a second mission for Black Flamingo to accomplish. It ends up making the detective element feel full and that Wheeler isn’t skimping on story. Properly set up for the setting and who Black Flamingo is, the story jettisons onto another mission that’s far more dangerous. That’s exciting and will make you want more.
Art by Moore is clean and pleasing to the eye. Costuming and clothes look fantastic, from party-wear to Black Flamingo’s leather coat. Character design and faces are also quite good. You get a sense of the personality in each facial expression. Tamra Bonvillain does a great job with lighting, adding extra atmosphere and drama to every scene. There’s a great bit of motion blur in one scene to bring the characters in the background at a party into focus. Touches like that go a long way in making the book feel quite warm and suitable for the Florida climate – literally and figuratively.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar are clean and easy to read. Captions have a little extra something to them to help add to Black Flamingo’s attitude.
Once you put it down, you’ll want to read far more Black Flamingo detective mysteries. Hundreds of years of mysteries and somehow it brings a whole new flavor to the genre. That’s thanks in part to the wildness of Florida, but also to the strong central character and its unabashed approach to the real world and the supernatural. Sins of the Black Flamingo #1 is an intriguing start that feels fresh and isn’t afraid to be genuinely sexy.
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