From the beginning, The Black Hood (Archie) has been a vigilante noir more than a straight superhero story. Greg Hettinger gets his powers and abilities from a crippling painkiller addiction and an inability to deal with his past, not radioactive spiders or alien DNA. And the book’s return, starting a second season this week, finds Greg lower than he’s ever been, with a comic at its best.
Duane Swierczynski, returning to the book with art by Greg Scott, picks up across the country from Philadelphia, in Santa Monica. Greg, haunted by his failures, has given up and is sleeping on the beach, homeless and scrounging for food. It’s not a dignified life, necessarily, but all Greg really wants is to be left alone with his demons. Unfortunately for him, his past, and his better nature, are catching up with him.
Swierczynski smartly puts the focus on Greg and why he’s a mess. The Black Hood, who is basically a maniac, can be difficult to relate to without that core of humanity, and by focusing on that, it emphasizes the best in this book. Now, of course, to see what he does next in his second season.
Hadrian’s Wall #2, Image
The space-set murder mystery from Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis, unfolds with an excellent second issue. The first set up the premise, of a spacewalk going wrong and a pill-addicted detective, Simon Moore, who hates the victim’s guts assigned to rubber-stamp the ruling. Unfortunately for the conspirators, Simon cares about his job, and his investigation quickly finds that his former friend was murdered. What makes the book great is that the question of “Why?” is front and center, not just why the murder happened, but why Simon, who was shot by the victim, would care so much. Any comics fan with a murder mystery itch should pick up Hadrian’s Wall post-haste.
Weird Detective #5, Dark Horse
Fred Van Lente and Guiu Villanova wrap up their brilliant mix of noir and Lovecraft with the inevitable showdown between our hero, such as he is, and the monster supposedly behind the whole thing. But, in both crime story and weird fiction fashion, there are wheels within wheels and forces behind forces. Van Lente’s ability to draw parallels between detective fiction tropes and Lovecraftian horror has made the series’ five issues some of the freshest takes on Lovecraft we’ve seen in a long time, and Villanova’s ability to make the tentacled goopy monsters and detectives both feel new ties the whole thing together. If you haven’t been following, pick up the full set of comics; you’ll likely be hearing about this book for a while.