Review – Dark Horse’s The Black Beetle: No Way Out #1, The Strain #10, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #103: The Abyss of Time Part 1, B.P.R.D.; 1948 #4
The Black Beetle: No Way Out #1
Black Beetle’s investigation of two local mob bosses is interrupted when a mysterious explosion murders them and a pub full of gangsters—taking out most of Colt City’s organized crime in one fell swoop. Who could pull off such a coup, and what danger might that murderous bomber do to Colt City and Black Beetle?
From the title alone, you know you’re in for some retro pulp adventure before you even pick up the cover. There’s the stylish cover to the throwback to classic adventure movies using “in” in the title. I went in expecting pulp fun and finished with a smile on my face. If you’re not a fan of those types of comics, you might skip this new series, but in doing so you’re depriving yourself of a modern classic comic.
There’s something mythic of the hero versus mob comic from yesteryear and Francesco Francavilla captures that in both story and look. With the Black Beetle you have a character who might seem like so many other street heroes of the sorts, and that’s ok. I’m a sucker for that sort of comic.
Many are trying their hand at throwback comics to the early days of the comic medium, and using many of the characters from then too, but Francavilla really captures the essence of those comics. They’re supposed to be campy fun, and Francavilla so far has avoided attempting to modernize such characters, which often doesn’t work. Instead we’re given that type of comic in it’s basic essence. There’s an innocence to it, and that makes it a blast to read.
Story and Art: Francesco Francavilla
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
The Strain #10
On the offensive, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his companions arm themselves and head deep below New York City to smoke out the leader of the vampire menace. But before they can enter his lair, they’re paid a deadly visit from the towering beast himself—the Master!
The series has consistently been one of my favorites since it’s debut. Instead of a quick vampire comic, where the plot is rushed and pandemic thrown to the side, the series has been a slow build, as much a thriller like Contagion as it is vampire story. A lot of what I’ve liked about the series is the focus on the human characters as they attempt to track down the cause and also deal with their home life. There’s emotion about their family and how this epidemic will affect them.
If you’re looking for a vampire comic that’s all action, this isn’t it. There’s a lot of detective work here and false arrests, details that add to the story and flesh out the world a lot more, making it believable. Add in snapshots of how others are dealing with this city falling apart, it all adds up to a great reading experience.
The art too is fantastic, with a frenetic look at time that fits the tone of the series. This particular issue is a bit predictable, but it’s just one slice of the bigger story which has been fantastic.
The Strain is currently being worked on to become a television series, so get in now, so you can say you knew about it before it hit the small screen.
Story: David Lapham Art: Mike Huddleston
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #103: The Abyss of Time part 1
A group of agents enter an abandoned warehouse in Chicago, only to discover the site of a hundred-year-old magical ritual and an old Hyperborean weapon, which leads to shocking revelations about man’s prehistory and the legacy of the Ogdru Hem!
Taking place before Return of the Master, there’s clearly a bigger story that I’m missing. Has this stuff come up before in an earlier series? I have no idea as I’m relatively new to B.P.R.D. But, ignoring the fact I feel like I’ve entered a story and having missed something before, the story so far is pretty interesting.
I want to find out more about this Hyperborean weapon and how it ties in to events in the present time. The story isn’t the most engaging of recent volumes I’ve read, but it’s interesting none the less.
It’s a bit odd to go from this giant end of the world story to this one, but my guess is it’ll all tie in together. That’s the enjoyment of this volume, how it plays in to the bigger picture.
Story: Mike Mignola and Scott Allie Art: James Harren
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
B.P.R.D.; 1948 #4
It’s the year 1948, throwing us back in time and away from modern events that’s currently shaking the B.P.R.D. world. For now four issues, we’ve got an entertaining story that isn’t quite a B-monster movie, but has hints at that sort of campy fun.
We’ve been guessing as to what the cause is to the giant monsters in the desert and what nuclear tests might have to do with it and here we get our answer. It seems to be a bit of a leap, but that’s part of the fun of this issue, we get arguments over the scenarios and cause of this phenomenon instead of just being asked to accept it. As a reader, we’re challenged to the cause.
We’ve got one issue to go in this series, so it’ll be very interesting to see how it wraps up, but as a whole, this volume has been a fun edition to the greater B.P.R.D. world.
Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi Art: Max Fiumara
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review