Tag Archive: Black Beetle

Black Beetle poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

Nailing down what is best about Francesco Francavilla’s comic book craft is a bit difficult.  His five-part, creator-owned series The Black Beetle, Volume 1: No Way Out is now available in a lavish, exquisitely designed hardcover edition, and it is his best work to date, which says a lot considering he won his Eisner for his great 2012 cover art on Black Panther, Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars, and Archie Meets Kiss, AND his current Afterlife with Archie artwork may ultimately even rival his Black Beetle.

Written by Francavilla, The Black Beetle, Volume 1: No Way Out isn’t an elaborate story.  It’s a straightforward adventure you’d expect from a classic 1940s film noir-inspired, pulp comic character.  But Francavilla’s ability to create his own dark superhero that would fit well in the licensed world of the Dynamite Comics pantheon is the achievement of this mini-series in graphic novel form.  The Italian creator has a good grasp on the mobster world of the 1940s, Nazis as the popular pulp villain, and even his location of the fictional Colt City located in a believable northeast United States culture.  His dialogue is also appropriate to the good guy masked hero whose identity remains a secret, distancing Black Beetle from the obvious attempts to compare him to Batman or the Shadow.  He’s a guy you could see played by mild-mannered George Reeve or Clayton Moore, and his conversational style of speaking directly to the reader in a film noir voice-over endears the hero to the reader from page one.

Black Beetle ad

Francavilla’s storytelling might be secondary to his pencil, ink, and color work–he often does his own lettering, too, although not on this series.  But just like when Alex Ross puts out his rare completely envisioned story and art book, it’s a treat for the eyes to have this single end-to-end work as the vision of one creator.  The hardcover edition of The Black Beetle, Volume 1: No Way Out includes a trove of design concepts and cover art, and Francavilla even lets us in on one trade secret why his action sequences play so well–he hired a stunt choreographer from Hollywood to design a scene for him to adapt to paper.  And then there is his color choice.  Orange, black, yellow, blue, and rarely purple–these colors set up a world of retro film mystique found in poster art and lobby card design of film’s golden era.

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Trigger Girl 6 cover

One of my favorite ways to get introduced to new comic book worlds is through Dark Horse Comics’ monthly anthology series, Dark Horse Presents.  We’ve reviewed several stories here at borg.com that were pulled from Dark Horse Presents to become their own collected volumes, including Francesco Francavilla’s Black Beetle, the sci-fi series Number 13, the off-the-wall Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy, Phil Noto’s Ghost, and our favorite of them all, the animal story Beasts of BurdenIn a similar vein, the relatively new anthology series Creator-Owned Heroes has spawned its own compilation book, Trigger Girl 6.

Trigger Girl panel B

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The Answer series poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you like Velma from Scooby Doo and you wanted to see her all grown up in a further adventure, The Answer! may be for you.  Revival and Battlepug writer/artist Mike Norton created the story of a new superhero with an exclamation point on his mask, and he supplied the interior art and covers, while well-known writer Dennis Hopeless scripted the four-issue Dark Horse Comics series, with Issue #1 released this month.

The Answer!–the superhero–is enigmatic in his debut issue–he’s a new creation like Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle, also a recent addition to the superhero pantheon–both intriguing shadowy characters who have unknown but slowly revealed back stories and are compelled to fight crime.  Like The Black Beetle, The Answer! is pretty much a complete creator-owned work cover to cover.  Eisner Award winning artist Norton has a well-recognized style, with dynamic characters and interesting panel views.

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Black Beetle 1 cover Dark Horse

Previewed by C.J. Bunce

If you felt like you were left wanting after reading Before Watchmen last year, or if you wondered why Dynamite Comics and Image Comics were the only comic book publishers offering up good noir stories, then Eisner Award winning artist and writer Francesco Francavilla has your answer.  Dark Horse Comics is releasing his new four-issue pulp noir series The Black Beetle: No Way Out beginning January 16, 2013.  You’ll swear you’ve seen the Black Beetle before, maybe in old 1950s or 1960s pulps.  Not so.  Black Beetle is entirely a new noir original creation of Francavilla.  But he looks like he belongs in Dynamite Comics’s Masks series along with the Green Hornet and the Shadow.


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