Review: ‘Black Beetle’ #0

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Best known for his art on Scott Snyder’s “Detective Comics” last year, Francisco Francavilla latest work comes on the newly released Black Beetle #0. Francavilla also takes up writing duties on this issue, and although he handles the story admirably, it still pales in comparison to his art. This is an atmospheric, well-drawn book with an interesting premise, but so far there’s does not offer much in the way of story or characters.

WRITTEN BY: Francisco Francavilla
ART BY: Francisco Francavilla
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $2.99
Release Date: December 19th, 2012

There’s a lot to like about this comic, and the easiest place to start is the visuals. They’re not realistic or intensely detailed, but they communicate the atmosphere of the scenes perfectly. There’s something about Francavilla’s simplistic approach to detail that evokes a sense of nostalgia, which is useful for a pulp story set as World War II rages across the Atlantic Ocean. His liberal use of shadows and tinted lighting also contributes to the sense of claustrophobia we feel as we see the Beetle and his companion evade their Nazi pursuers (yes, of course they’re Nazis, because why the fuck not?) through the hallways and showrooms of a museum.

But despite the attention to detail in his artwork, there isn’t a terrible amount of detail to his story. A bunch of Nazi special forces come to a museum to steal a lizard amulet said to contain vast power, and the Beetle tries to stop them. That’s cool and all, but when the majority of the dialogue in your story concerns the tablet in question and not the characters themselves, it’s not very compelling. Moreover, for an issue titled a “mystery novelette”, there isn’t a terrible amount of mystery here. The end presents some questions – Why does the Beetle want the lizard? Who is the man in the black cape? – but none are answered. This issue doesn’t establish any meaningful “mystery” until the end.

This is a fun book to read. It’s got a strong aesthetic narrative to it. This isn’t a deep comic, or a well-fleshed out one, but it’s a solid piece of entertainment. And, obviously, a well-drawn one. So if you’re looking for a comic with excellent art, good action sequences, and Nazis, this is worth a look.

3/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – GeorgeShunick