Update October 27, 2015: Alex Segura, Dark Circle Comics Editor, confirmed for atombash.com that “The Lonely Crusade” will begin next month in “The Black Hood” #7 and that, while “Flor de Muerto” is a single issue story in “The Black Hood” #6, it will have lasting repercussions in the series.
Wednesday sees the return of Dark Circle Comics’s “The Black Hood” comic book series. The series went on a short hiatus following the conclusion of its first arc, but is back with new monthly adventures starting with a special interlude story with art by the legendary Howard Chaykin. “Flor de Muerto” is written by series writer Duane Swierczynski with colors by Jesus Aburto and letters by Rachel Deering. The regular cover is by Francesco Francavilla with variant covers by David Mack, Greg Smallwood and Howard Chaykin with Jesus Aburto. The issue also features a short true crime essay by writer and Temple University graduate Erik Arneson titled, “Philadelphia’s Arsenic Murder Ring: Crime in Philadelphia.”
“The Black Hood” #6 finds Greg Hettinger checked into a rehabilitation clinic in California, as he tries to overcome his painkiller addiction. An addiction that stems from the horrible facial disfigurement Hettinger suffered in the line of duty as a Philadelphia police officer and sent him on the path to become The Black Hood. Naturally, trouble manages to find Hettinger even in this “safe place.”
The issue reads like a classic radio serial and that is meant as a high compliment to Swierczynski’s script. There is no better measure of the noir genre than those radio programs of yesteryear. A protagonist whom trouble always seems to find in the form of a seeming damsel in distress no matter how ordinary the day started out. Chaykin’s well known stylized art is a far contrast to regular series artist Michael Gaydos’s photo realistic art. Given the change in setting for this issue, Chaykin and Aburto play off this contrast in styles perfectly with lighter and fewer lines, textured fashion and décor and a brighter palette. The duo aptly distinguish the Californian coast locale from the dim city streets of Northeast Philadelphia with ample use of natural lighting. There are numerous scenes with Hettinger out on the beach with a beautiful clear sky. Many indoor scenes are backdropped by large windows with a look to the sky and vibrant plant and animal life. Even the night sky is lit up with stars.
Despite the quality execution of the story, the issue ends with no resolution as The Black Hood is in way over his head and a “To be continued…” closes out the issue. This is usually normal operating procedure in comics and the reader can generally expect the story to pick up again with the next issue. However, “The Black Hood” #6 has been billed as a “standalone” story since the series began its planned hiatus in June. Additionally, the Next Issue promo is for Part 1 of “The Lone Crusade,” which, again according to previously released information, sees the return of regular series artist Michael Gaydos for a multi-part storyline with The Black Hood back in Philadelphia. So, it begs the question, will “The Lone Crusade” indeed start next issue and, if so, when will readers get a resolution to “Flor de Muerto”?
Publishing confusion aside, “The Black Hood” #6 is a solid showcase of Hettinger’s efforts to overcome his issues, as well as firmly exemplifies how much he still needs to learn to become an effective hero. The issue is available tomorrow, October 28, via digital outlets and comic shops everywhere.