Review: The Black Hood #6 Introduces Howard Chaykin to the Dark Circle

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Script: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Howard Chaykin, Jesus Aburto, Rachel Deering

THE ACCLAIMED DARK CIRCLE SERIES RETURNS! “Flor de Muerto” After the soul-crushing events of “Bullet’s Kiss,” disfigured cop Greg Hettinger leaves Philly and checks into a Southern California rehab clinic. But a plane ride can’t separate Greg from his troubles. A fellow patient believes her former drug dealer (and lover) has sent someone to kill her, and it’s up to Greg to figure out which member of their circle is preparing to pull the trigger…
New to the dark, twisted world of The Black Hood? Then check yourself in for this thrilling one-shot from novelist Duane Swierczynski and superstar artist Howard Chaykin.

Flying just underneath the radar is Archie’s Dark Circle title The Black Hood . The series focuses on Greg Hettinger, a cop turned vigilante in the same flavor as Daredevil, The Punisher, or Batman. Crime writer Duane Swierczynski headlines the adventures of the antihero with Howard Chaykin on art. This series’ first arc has had a slow burn quality that ended with a really nice fifth issue capping “The Bullet’s Kiss.” However, moving into issue #6, the series is looking to switch things up.  The team takes Hettinger to rehab and giving him a story framed around his interactions with some of the other new characters that he meets while trying to get clean.  Hettinger’s escape from the serialized structure of the first arc makes this issue feel like a different version of the comic than the one the audience was reading before. 

The introduction of Chaykin, who illustrates this issues instead of “The Bullet’s Kiss” arc artist Michael Gaydos, visually emphasizes the difference between this story and the arc that came before it. The change is welcomed, and “The Bullet’s Kiss” arc contained a grim thematic outlook that is contrasted well with the bright colors inside this issue — however, things go horribly horribly wrong for Hettinger rather fast, and he’s forced to make some tough choices in the issue.

Chaykin’s work here feels inspired, yet I have never been a diehard fan of his. After seeing the artists’ pencils in just black and white with some inks in Satellite Sam, I think I prefer that flavor of work from him over what he has produced in The Black Hood. While I wouldn’t mind a fill-in here and there from Chaykin in the future, I think that permanently moving this far away from Gaydos’ curvy linework and threatening depiction of the world of The Black Hood is would keep me coming back for more from the series. Thankfully Gaydos is stepping back onto the title next issue.

This may be a vacation for Hettinger who’s now trying to get clean, but the story utilizes the superhero aspects of his life to go to some dark places rather quickly. This story was a fun diversion, and now I’m ready to get back into the action with Michael Gaydos in “The Lonely Crusade.”

 

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