Review by Ian Keogh
Duane Swierczynski treats The Black Hood as an illustrated form of TV drama, with each five chapters equating to a season. It seemed that Greg Hettinger had laid his ghosts and addictions to rest as The Lonely Crusade ended. However, he became the Black Hood back in The Bullet’s Kiss when his predecessor was tracking down a serial killer, and the Nobody was never caught. Neither of them likes a loose end.
Hettinger’s now in Santa Monica. As he notes, there are worse places to be homeless, but like any other city in the USA, it’s not short of drug crime, and perhaps putting an end to a threat is the worse decision Hettinger has yet made. It opens him to a challenge.
Swierczynski’s Black Hood has been a tough urban crime drama over the previous two books, but he steps things up a notch with a series of encounters across the USA dragging Hettinger back home, leaving multiple bodies in every city along the way. It’s a terrifying plot brought to gritty life by Greg Scott, thankfully the only artist this time. He’s got a refined sense of drama, best admired when a scene calls for Hettinger to have been outfoxed as the Nobody has escaped. Hettinger can’t find him, but thanks to Scott’s imagination we know exactly where he is. It’s a great panel even when taking into account Swierczynski’s cheating by having the Nobody achieve the impossible in the time available. Scott’s art features no skimping via splodging in impressionistic houses and streets. Every location the Black Hood visits is fully realised and supplied with precision.
Chapter three ends with one hell of a surprise. We expect one thing and we get another. It’s great. Swierczynski is again applying dramatic licence, but we surely wouldn’t want this any other way. While The Nobody Murders is thrilling crime drama, it would be remiss not to note that both creators are more than a little influenced by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s work on Daredevil, and there are far worse influences to have.
The Black Hood’s revival predated Archie resurrecting other characters for their Dark Circle line, but unfortunately when they went so did Hettinger. He went out on a high, though, with his best story to date.