The Black Beetle #1: Good pulp or fit to be pulped?
I covered The Black Beetle #0 here a few weeks ago, rounding up thoughts on the collection of stories from the Dark Horse Presents anthology. Now Francesco Francavilla’s pulp character has graduated into his own miniseries, the first issue of which arrived last Wednesday. The zero issue received positive reviews, so how does the first issue stack up? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Equal parts Batman, Blue Beetle (by name, if nothing else) and Indiana Jones, the Black Beetle is an action hero whose escapades don’t leave the reader wanting for adventure, excitement or intrigue. At first glance, it appears as though Francavilla might be riding a wave of resurgent pulp popularity, but this first issue propels the property beyond simple mimicry of pulp adventures or following a predefined set of instructions for crafting a good story. While some readers may find Francavilla’s use of narrative caption boxes excessive, there is no denying their effectiveness in adding depth to the character as his action sequences progress.”
Jonathan Pilley, Omnicomic: “As a character, the Black Beetle will likely remind readers of Dick Tracy mixed with Batman. He uses a similar bag of tricks as the latter, with the desire for upholding the law of the former. Considering the bulk of the issue is all narration on the part of the Black Beetle, the fact that you still get a good sense of his character is impressive. He gets results and knows what he’s doing, both traits that will make the new villain in Colt City work for their anarchy.”
John Barringer, A Comic Book Blog: “It’s also refreshing for a #1 issue to skip right over the origin’s of the character or story and get right to it. The Black Beetle is indeed a man of mystery, as is the actual story, and putting together both puzzles piece by piece, perpendicular to each other, is just as fun. A good story will give us all the information we need to know, which is exactly what happens. And long time Black Beetle fans will be excited too at the threads carried over from the web series and various appearances.”
Walt Richardson, Multiversity Comics: “Over the years, Francavilla has developed a style that is extravagant when it can be, utilitarian when necessary. Never does Francavilla bite off more than he can chew: if the motions taking place in the scene he’s drawing are going to be difficult to convey, then he’ll restrict himself to a basic grid of quadrelaterals, making sure that the action is effectively communicated rather than obscured by too creative layouts. Function always supercedes form, but that doesn’t mean Francavilla doesn’t pull out the big guns when he gets the chance. If the panel-to-panel motion is easily handled (which, when you’re as talented as Francavilla, is more often than not), or when the goal is more to evoke certain emotions rather than show anything in specific, the artist goes all out.”
Steve Paugh, Comic Bastards: “This doesn’t appear to be a continuation, at least not directly, of the previous events in Issue 0, and in fact proves to be a better jumping-on point, and in my opinion, a superior issue in general. I’m really looking forward to Issue 2 and the series as a whole, partly to see what happens next, but mostly because I just want to see more of this art and story.”
Paul Neafsey, Front Towards Gamer: “The Black Beetle in ‘Now Way Out’ is a little hokey at times, with gruff humor and expected plot twists, and that might turn some people off, but that’s their loss. The art and writing are married so perfectly that they capture the essence of a classic crime novel while appealing to modern artistic quality expectations.”