The Black Beetle, Vol. 1: No Way Out

Francesco Francavilla, Author, Jim Gibbons, Editor, Francesco Francavilla, Illustrator
Francesco Francavilla. Dark Horse, $14.99 (152p) ISBN 978-1-6165-5202-2
Reviewed on: 09/16/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
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Although reading like a revived 1950s pulp yarn, this highly stylized book is an entirely new creation. Like Francavilla’s previous work on properties such as Daredevil and Batman, this title leans heavily on atmosphere. The story follows the eponymous gun-toting vigilante as he falls into a slight but strikingly told mystery after rescuing an ancient artifact from a band of Nazis. Roaming from seedy nightclubs to festering prisons, the stories’ quiet observations of the lead character on his investigation and minimalistic, insightful bites of internal narration are its greatest strengths. Yet the book struggles to provide an engaging narrative, with an anticlimactic unraveling of the final mystery. Francavilla’s strength is as an artist—deservedly, he is the winner of an Eisner Award for best covers, and he makes each page drip with taut suspense and mood. The stark, bold coloring choices highlight a dynamic sense of design throughout, and help paper over the many loose threads that make up the back half of the story. (Oct.)
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