Today, Patrick and Ryan M. are discussing The Black Hood 6, originally released October 28th, 2015.
Alcoholism is a disease, but it’s like the only disease that you can get yelled at for having. “Damn it Otto, you’re an alcoholic.” “Damn it Otto, you have lupus.” One of those two doesn’t sound right.
Patrick: Addiction is ugly. It can make a human being totally (and literally) self-destruct, and in many cases there’s nothing that friends and family can do to help. The extra psychological stress of knowing that addiction is a disease that the addict seemingly inflicts upon himself can be downright devastating. Hedberg himself died of a drug overdose, despite the fact that he had been in treatment and had a strong support network and friends and family invested in his well-being. On some level, someone succumbing to their addiction seems like a personal failing, as though they lacked the willpower to simply overcome it. That’s one of the dangers of depicting addiction in fiction – so often, “getting clean” is the final step in that addicted hero’s journey. But addiction isn’t a dragon, or a witch, Darth Vader, it’s a disease that rewards someone for behavior that will ultimately lead to their undoing. It’s a heartbreaking thing to witness, and everyone involved feels powerless to it. Greg H. is an addict, but not just to painkillers: he’s addicted to being the vigilante known as the Black Hood. Duane Swierczynski and Howard Chaykin embrace that ugliness and helplessness as Greg’s addiction comes back to routinely bite him in the ass. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing The Shield 1, originally released October 21st, 2015.
Drew: Who are remakes for? I have loads of cynical answers, from “vain artists” to “money-hungry IP owners,” but the most cynical — and, unfortunately, perhaps the most true — is simply “not fans of the original.” We’re all familiar with film buffs wincing at the thought of a classic being redone, but they’re clearly not the target audience: there’s no reason to remake something for someone who loves the original. Unless, of course, you aren’t being as cynical as I tend to be. It’s entirely possible for a remake to celebrate what was great about the original without being tied to it — that is, it welcomes both new and old fans alike. That’s the name of the game for Archie’s Dark Circle imprint, which manages that tricky balance again in Shield 1. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Black Hood 4, originally released May 27th, 2015.
Drew: There’s nothing quite like a ticking clock to heighten drama. As much as I love the verisimilitude of more relaxed pacing, I can’t help but get excited when everything has to happen RIGHT NOW. I suppose those timebomb moments reflect their own kind of reality — deadlines can force us to rush through everything from our morning routine to the intro paragraph we need to write about the latest comic from Dark Circle — but knowing that there’s no time for second chances can really make a story gripping. Of course, just about every timebomb, whether it’s the inevitable arrival of a character or a literal timebomb, has been done to death. Or so I thought. Remarkably, Duane Swierczynski finds a totally novel timebomb in The Black Hood 4, giving Greg Hettinger the urgency his mission has been so sorely lacking. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mark are discussing The Black Hood 2, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Drew: Means, motive, and opportunity. We’re familiar with how these play in a criminal case — a prosecutor must convince the jury of these three elements in order to convict — but I’d argue that they’re just as important in crafting a compelling superhero origin story. “Means” would be the superpowers (or lack thereof): the radioactive spider-bite, the alien DNA, the years of martial arts training; “motive” is their reason for fighting: the death of a loved one, the morals of a father-figure, some huanting mystery from their past; and “opportunity” is the wealth of villains: bankrobbers, intergalactic warlords, or even the corruption of their hometown. As with a criminal case, means and opportunity are pretty open-and-shut — the basic whos and whats of the story — but motive is much more subtle. An audience will dismiss a far-fetched or unbelievable motive just as quickly as a jury will. Of course, that also often makes motive the most elusive of these elements — a feature Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos highlight in The Black Hood 2. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Black Hood 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Drew: Superhero comics are a trope-filled medium. That’s doubly true of origin stories, which need to explain what would drive a normal person to dress up to fight crime. It turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of explanations out there. Was their family murdered in front of them? Were they the victim of some kind of science experiment gone wrong? Have they inherited some kind of mythical power? Every variation has been done, but so few have been done well. Indeed, the drive to get to the actual superheroics tends to leave origins rushed and expository — not the best recipe for a great story. The Black Hood 1 manages to avoid the tropes and the gratuitous exposition — while still taking its lead from regular guy to masked vigilante — trading our expectations in for some good old fashioned mystery. Continue reading →