The Black Hood wreaks vengeance on the streets of Philadelphia while Officer Hettinger continues down a dark drug-fueled path in “The Bullet’s Kiss, Part Two.” Is it good?
The Black Hood #2 (Dark Circle Comics)
Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos open the book with an intense action sequence as The Black Hood breaks up a street mugging in an extremely violent manner. The sequence is different than most opening action sequences due to The Black Hood’s self awareness. He realizes he is drugged out of his mind and running around wearing a creepy mask. This doesn’t deter or hinder him at all. It actually empowers him, allowing him to wreak more extreme violence than he otherwise would have without the mask. It is quite the thing to behold and Swierczynski and Gaydos think so too. There is a panel with the muggers’ victim capturing his image. The victim’s reaction was the same as mine: “Holy Crap!” The Black Hood has a similar reaction when he stares at the aftermath of his violence and bears witness in utter shock.
The extreme violence committed by The Black Hood becomes a running theme throughout the comic. It also showcases Hettinger’s fall into addiction. His violence begins escalating even while in uniform. He does whatever is necessary to satisfy his addiction. Swierczynski is able to explore the evil that lurks in the human heart and the most compelling part is Swierczynski’s ability to make the character relatable. It is not difficult to see yourself reacting in a similar fashion to Officer Hettinger.
Not only is Swierczynski able to delve into the troubles of Hettinger, but he also creates a compelling conspiracy to let you know the world does not stand still for Hettinger. The conspirators are barely touched on; they may as well be faceless. This is not to say this is a bad thing, it actually keeps the story focused on Hettinger rather than adding new characters into the mix that would dilute his personal struggle.
Michael Gaydos continues to provide gritty artwork. The grittiness captures the harshness and despair Hettinger experiences. There are two panels that capture the essence of Gaydos’ artwork: The first is the memory of beauty and hope with trees filled with leaves, open fields, and fully built buildings. The second is a leafless tree surrounded by endless blocks of dilapidated, rundown houses. It is hopelessness. Aiding Gaydos in creating this bleak and depressing world is Kelly Fitzpatrick. She uses a very earthy color palette with lots of blues, greens, and browns that capture the hopelessness of Hettinger’s world.
On top of the hopelessness within Hettinger, Swierczynski is able to touch on recent social upheavals with both police brutality and corruption. It is secondary to Hettinger’s PTSD and subsequent drug addiction, but it stands out in the way Swierczynski goes about portraying them. They are integral parts of the story. They are not the story but part of it. It is subtle and powerful all at the same time.
Is It Good?
The Black Hood takes you to the dark side of comics and you won’t ever want to step back into the light. If you haven’t already, you should take the plunge into Philadelphia with Greg Hettinger as he dives deeper into darkness with each issue. Swierczynski provides excellent storytelling and gripping characterization, making you feel pity and remorse for a man murdering people in cold blood. Michael Gaydos’ artwork perfectly captures the hopeless state of mind Hettinger finds himself in. In my short experience reading comics, this may be one of those revolutionary comics that will influence future creators to come; it’s that good.