Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Beetle Is Black!


Let me begin by saying that I am a big Francesco Fracavilla fan. I first discoverd Francavilla's artwork on the offbeat Indy comic The Black Coat several years ago. Sadly he left that riotous character for greener (blacker?) pastures and I've followed his progress as he made a name for himself. He has an engaging and attractive style which if full of energy and slathered with atmosphere, the perfect artist to draw a classic pulp adventure. And it's good news for one and all that he has done just that.

The Black Beetle is a hard-nosed take-no-prisoners action hero in the mythical but nonetheless recognizable Colt City during the momentous year of 1941. He's a hero in a world ripe with villains across the globe as the Nazis prowl the streets for dark and evil secrets and gangsters murder and plot their way to riches and revenge.


The first story in this collection is titled "Murder in the Museum!" and delivers just that. The Third Reich is in the skies and seeking ancient plunder and only the Black Beetle can stop them. This is a tasty into to the world and the character and if any fault can be found with this collection, it's that the story started here is largely stalled while another gangster epic commences. I yearn to see what happens next, but like everyone else I'll have to wait. More on that later.





When not fighting European armies, the Black Beetle fights the Mob and the four-issue story title "No Way Out" describes his conflict with a mysterious villain named Layrinto, an enigmatic killer who stalks the gangsters themselves wherever they seek to hide themselves. The Black Beetle finds himself in the odd position of  tracking down this weird assassin.


This a great action-filled story which reads with wonderful pace. The artwork is lush and propels you along. I wanted to read it again immediately after I finished it the first time. The story does hurt a smidgeon by the use of a somewhat tiresome MacGuffin, but beyond that necessary snafu it's a hummer and a half.

Sadly though it's not the story yearned to read most. After the great introduction, I really wanted to learn more about the Nazi plot to get hold of an ancient trinket called "The Hollow Lizard". That's the story which will be told in the next Black Beetle adventure due out this fall. I don't like to follow comics as they appear on the stands too much anymore, but I think I'll have to make an exception in this case.


"Necrologue" begins soon. I am eager to get hold of it.

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