Francesco Francavilla is fucking awesome. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to comics, I’m hardly an expert. Which is why every time I see something as phenomenal as this Black Beetle series No Way Out, I kick myself for not knowing about people like Francesco Francavilla.
The Black Beetle: No Way Out Part 4 (Dark Horse Comics)
If you haven’t read parts one through three, or even number 0 (which by the way, the 0 issues always confuse me) go read them first. This is a pulp detective comic. The mystery is one of the best aspects of this series. No Way Out is dripping with mafiasos, jazz clubs, dames, and of course, The Black Beetle. He’s written much like a detective in a costume. He doesn’t have a power, he just has a gun and a mask. Francavilla both wrote and “directed” the series. Dude is suave as shit.
The plot of this arc revolves around The Beetle trying to figure out who the mysterious villain he keeps seeing is, and who keeps offing mafia dons in Colt City. Again, can’t stress enough to read the first three installments, so you can follow the mystery.
The Beetle looks cool as Hell.
There are some really interesting visual cues to tie together all of the clues the Black Beetle has picked up along the arc. Such as a giant, superimposed newspaper article above a house The Beetle is about to enter. Artistic devices like this are used several times. Perhaps the grandest use is when the Beetle meets our villain, Labyrinto, and the background becomes puzzle pieces.
The art from panel to panel seems to move in jump cuts. It’s really neat. And the action sequences are dynamic. Likewise, the color use is great, with flashbacks in orange. It’s a very pretty comic to look at.
- Great art and artistic devices.
- Good mystery.
- Noir and pulpy, it’s delicious.
- The Beetle isn’t explained much.
Is It Good?
Yes, it’s quite good. It makes me want to wear a suit and go to a jazz club. The reality of that would drive me insane, but it makes me want to act classy. It’s a period comic done to perfection. The art is cool, the action is swift, the mystery is compelling, and the colors are dark. A lot of orange is used, and as a ginger, I can appreciate that.
My only negative critique would be you don’t really know anything about The Beetle. At the same time, this is a good thing. Back story can make a superhero less intimidating. I feel like a little more on The Beetle, even a sentence, might have helped though. So, my beef is also something I really enjoyed in the plot. Go figure.
In any case, go pick it up if you like old school detective heroes, and certainly go snag it if you dig men dressed as bugs.