The Black Hood #2The Black Hood #2
“The Bullet’s Kiss Part Two”

Duane Swierczynski: Writer
Michael Gaydos: Artist
Rachel Deering: Letterer
Kelly Fitzpatrick: Colorist.

Archie slid us an advance copy of Black Hood #2.  I understand the FOC date is today.

The second issue continues the descent into madness and addiction of our titular hero, policeman Greg Hettinger, who’s inadvertently assumed the identity of a vigilante he shot and killed while on duty.  This series continues to put the emphasis on the character arc as injury has lead to depression, which has led to drug abuse, which has led to a spiraling addiction.  Thus far the decent has been the story and all the rest has been the collateral damage in the wake of our… well, at this point protagonist is more appropriate a term than hero. We now move into the consequences phase of the story as Hettinger attracts a bit too much attention to himself and an antagonist emerges.

This comic really captures the mood of a ’70s era crime/conspiracy film.  The art, the palette, the narration — it all fits and evokes that mood.  Even the essays in the back of the bleak history of crime in Philadelphia work that vibe.  We’re still firmly in the realm of crime story here.  There’s another sequence with wearing the hood, that’s vigilante at best and possibly more misadventure than anything else.  That said, the seeds of wearing that hood with a purpose in mind have been planted by the end of issue two.

Traditionally you’d have a superhero comic that would cross into the territory of a commercial fiction genre.  Captain America frequently was thrust into spy stories.  Thor could skew fantasy or science fiction when not hammering super villains.  Black Hood starts out as the inverse – crime fiction taking on some super hero trappings.  I’d call it pulp, but there’s more emphasis on characterization than in the classic pulp tradition.  You want to say noir and a tarnished knight, go right ahead.

As the character arc progresses, Hettinger does indeed change.  The pieces on the board are shifting and the long game is emerging.  I would’ve gone straight into the third issue if I had it in front of me.  This one’s a real page turner and I suspect is going to make for one helluva collected edition when you can sit down and just read right through it.

This one is starting to remind me, ever so slightly, of the early issues of the O’Neill/Cowan Question series, but that may just be the darkness and the descent phase of the hero’s journey.

Highly recommended for those who like character-driven crime stories.