Officer Gregory Hettinger has the tables turned on him as he becomes the suspect. Will this spark him to make a change in his lifestyle or will he descend further into the darkness that is already consuming him? Is it good?
The Black Hood #3 (Dark Circle Comics)
Duane Swierczynski decides to choose the former option for better or worse. After a brief stint dealing with a lawyer, the conflict of being put in the slammer is quickly brushed aside to make way for Hettinger’s remaking of himself. Fortunately, it is not all “Gotta be a new guy, gotta be the good guy. Rah! Rah!” No, Gregory Hettinger is motivated by one thing and one thing only: revenge. He refocuses his life, cutting back on the pills, hitting the gym, and reengaging with his speech therapist. It’s great that he is refocusing his life, but as a reader I don’t buy it. Hettinger is a junkie cop who was beating up drug dealers in order to confiscate their drugs. Now, all of a sudden, after a split second in the back of a squad car, he is remaking his life in order to attempt to track down the guy who set him up. It is a little too big of a leap to suspend my disbelief. It does not favor the character Swierczynski introduced us to in the previous issues.
Hettinger’s recovery does allow his character to progress in a different direction and Swierczynski uses this to touch on the development of minor characters as well. He gives special attention to his speech therapist, which you just knew from the first issue was going to be a romantic interest. Swierczynski also touches on Hettinger’s former partner, acknowledging his intelligence and respect for Hettinger.
The plot of the story reads much like Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse. Hettinger begins hunting down low-level drug enforcers in order for them to give up the guy directly above them. His hope is to eventually discover the leader of the entire operation. Unlike Without Remorse, he is not sent to Vietnam in between hunting down drug dealers, but he does decide to help innocent victims between brutal interrogations.
Rachel Deering’s colors reflect the mood of the story. The panels are much brighter and she uses quite a bit of light which directly contrasts with the darker colors she used in the previous issues. She does darken the mood when Hettinger puts on the black hood and goes into action.
Michael Gaydos’ artwork continues to excel. The panels flow together very nicely, keeping pace with the writing. I really enjoy the details he puts into the backgrounds of the panels. There is one sequence depicting the inside of a bar that has plenty of signage and machines; it resembles a place you could find yourself at on a Saturday night. A second sequence involves a graveyard. He includes numerous headstones in all different shapes and sizes with unique patterns on them as well as adding trees and overgrown shrubbery to give the scene a more ominous feeling.
Is It Good?
I’m not a big fan of the new direction Swierczynski takes Hettinger; I think there was a lot left that could have been discovered as Hettinger would have sunken to a whole new low. The clichéd romance is a little bit of a stretch especially after only a couple sessions and then him blowing her off for a lengthy period of time.
Despite the shortcomings, the issue had good pacing and the panels flowed together nicely. Rachel Deering’s colors reflect the different direction Hettinger was taking and Gaydos’ artwork continues to capture the essence of the characters and the city. However, I can’t get past the plot in this issue; it was generic and uninteresting. Here’s to hoping Hettinger’s dark side returns, but after this issue the chances of that happening seem limited.