Review: THE BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT #1

THE BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT #1
Written by Francesco Francavilla
Art by Francesco Francavilla
Release Date: January 16, 2013

22592A new number one from Dark Horse and an original creation from the mind of Francesco Francavilla. Issue #0 was met with much fanfare and positive reviews from around the comic book community and No Way Out #1 hopes to keep that as a trend.

The Black Beetle has everything you would expect to see in a pulp noir homage story. Gangsters, mystery, dark atmosphere and gadgets can all be found within the 20 or so pages of issue 1. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of pulp-style stories, but Francavilla excellently captured the feel.  The writing gets the job done. Most of the issue is The Black Beetle’s inner dialogue, which he uses primarily to fill us in on the city and its inhabitants. The writing did what it needed to do and progress the story. There was no personality or feeling behind the words and the character suffered slightly from it. This book isn’t made to show off the dialogue, because every other aspect of The Black Beetle is extremely strong. The story moved at a breakneck speed and really flowed effortlessly into each new scene or character. On my first read, I felt like I finished the issue in 5 minutes.  That’s how it was set up, to put you on this chase alongside The Black Beetle — and I had a blast keeping up. In the final 5 pages, the issue really started to gel and everything began to click. If issue 2 keeps up the momentum from the end of 1, then this title could create a lot of buzz.

The artwork, as expected, is astounding. Francavilla has been one of the top artists of the past few years and it has only gotten better now that he is working on one of his own creations. Small details and the presentation through the layouts and panels make The Black Beetle so easily re-readable. Your eyes flow from panel to panel and focus more on close-up shots during the action scenes, giving the comic this sense of motion.

For The Black Beetle to be able to fit in and stand side by side with the other pulp heroes says tons about the character design. Just at a quick glance, the character has features that stand out and make him unique, but also a sense of familiarity of what to expect from a hero in this type of world. The gadgets had a nice charm to them as well. I would have liked to have seen a few more, but I think we will get plenty of those in the near future with this series.

You can tell so much love and dedication went into this book and it oozes out of every page. As a pulp serial story, I would give it an 9.0. From a straight comic book perspective, I think it would fall somewhere near an 8.0. I think we can find a middle ground.

Verdict: 8.5/10

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