1.07.2013

The Black Beetle [Shotgun Blurbs]

by Contributing Writer Keith Silva
 

The Black Beetle
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Creator: Francesco Francavilla

What It's About: Listen. Through the crackle of the æther you can near hear the resonant baritone of the announcer say: 'In the early days of 1941, a masked man patrols the megalopolis of Colt City, on the hunt for malefactors and forces malevolent. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the dark shadows comes … the Black Beetle!'

An ancient amulet of legend, a certain hollow lizard, once lost and now found, awaits its debut at the CCNHM*. The Nazi's Werewolf Korps means to take this arcane artifact back to the Vaterland with the dread directive: leave no witnesses. Only the lightning-quick wits and twin .45s of the Cerberus of Colt City, the Black Beetle, stands in the way of these Mauser-toting, jackbooted goons.  

Why You Should Buy It: Nowadays, noir and pulp comics are a dime (novel) a dozen. This pulpy glut makes it a chore to fish out the frauds from the real McCoys. Francesco Francavilla possesses an academician's fervor for the Saturday matinee serial, he's what you might call a noir nerd. 'Night Shift' a/k/a Black Beetle #0 collects three chapters (or better, reels) from Dark Horse Presents. What Francavilla calls a 'mystery novelette,' feels like the best of Indiana Jones cape comics cross, and yet, none of it feels like an exercise in style-by-numbers. Like George Lucas, Francavilla has an instinct for the rhythms and grace notes of serialized storytelling.

Francavilla draws the suspenseful and the mundane with equal assurance. The clothes, costumes and uniforms of the characters look tailored, but not in a fussed over way as if each wrinkle were drawn on meth bender. The same goes for the backgrounds, everything is in its place: uncluttered and clean. An actioner like this requires excitement and Francavilla brings the bang, blam and the brat-tat-tat. 'Night Shift's ' dim naves and eerie alcoves make the colors come off like muzzle flashes and splashes of blood. This is classic storytelling from an artist and writer who's got pulp in his veins and noir under his nails. The Black Beetle: No Way Out #1 streets in January and has already set the bar for the best of 2013. 

(*Colt City Natural History Museum -- Ed.)

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