Black Beetle #1: No Way Out

by JohnP on January 16, 2013


Pay attention everyone - this is how it's done.

Black Beetle #1 is, from front to back, an example of a perfect comic. Every single page is a fantastic work of art. The panel layouts are creative and allow the story to flow naturally. The thematic style of the art perfectly suits the book. The writing tells you what you need to know, but also stays out of the way and keeps things moving by trusting the reader and allowing the panels to show instead of tell. The noir-ish narration works beautifully - it could have been written by Hammett or Chandler themselves, but manages to sound modernized in a way instead of entirely retro. The character of Black Beetle himself somehow just has a presence to him. He radiates mystery and intrigue and you can't help but be compelled to follow his journey.

Francesco Francavilla is the writer, pencilled, colorist, cover artist, and creator of this book. As far as I am aware, this is his first full length writing effort, but you would never know it. The sequential storytelling here is not just top notch - it seems effortless. Not a single word is out of place, nothing hits a false note, and when words aren't needed, they aren't used. As I already said, the Sam Spade style narration hits the perfect tone (and something like this can just as easily come across as corny or overbearing when done wrong), but the Beetle can also be funny and very human.

If you know anything about Francavilla, you know he is basically "Mr. Pulp Comic" since he draws covers for nearly every pulp hero comic being published. It's no secret that pulp is his thing and this is a true love letter to the genre. The Beetle can stand tall beside the likes of the Shadow, the Spider, and even Batman. Everyone owes it to themselves to get this comic. It is a tale that immediately captivates you, propelled by a character who is is an instant classic. Go to your comic store and get this before it sells out, because it is going to. You don't want to miss it.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


tskavlan's picture

Man, I knew I should have picked this up this afternoon.  Great review.

Yeah you should pick up a copy if you can find it. I had been hyping it up for myself ever since #0, but it still surpassed all my expectations. It blew Batman outta the water this week, imo.
Tori B.'s picture

Had to go back to the store to pick it up yesterday. So glad I did.

stephengervais's picture

Great review John! I loved this comic. I'm still mad I missed out on issue 0, I'm really hoping Dark Horse reprints it. I've just started getting into the pulp comics and I have to say they are the ones I'm looking forward to each week more so than the superhero stuff lately.