Written by: Francesco Francavilla
Art by: Francesco Francavilla
There are few artists working in mainstream comics today that make my jaw drop with their craft. Its easy for a lot of artists nowadays to be bombastic and have splash pages and double-page spreads filling the books they work on and have people laud over them but it’s by looking closer at the story-telling and progression through the art that you can really see a great artist. Francesco Francavilla is one if those artists.
Ever since reading the ‘Batman: Black Mirror’ collection which he worked on, I have been enthralled by his art. His dynamic action sequences, panel-to-panel progression, design and figure work are all exceptional. Up until recently I wasn’t aware that Francavilla also wrote as well as drew comics. It was with Black Beetle #0 that I became educated that not only is he a stellar artist but he is also a very accomplished writer as well.
This #0 issue entitled ‘Night Shift’ is a collection of back-up strips that first appeared in the anthology ‘Dark Horse Presents’ issues 11-13. It serves as a lead-in to the next mini ‘No Way Out’, which will be published in January 2013 from Dark Horse, as well as an introduction to the character. Make no mistake, the world and characters of this comic are pure pulp noir. Everything from the design of the buildings, Nazi bad guys, ancient mystical artifacts and damsels in distress are present and beautifully brought to life by Francavilla.
I’ve mentioned how much I adore Francavilla’s art but if you have any appreciation for the comics medium then you owe it to yourself to read this comic. It’s clear he is heavily influenced by old pulp movies and novels and I couldn’t help but be reminded of ‘the Maltese Falcon’, the works of Raymond Chandler and even Dave Steven’s ‘The Rocketeer’ while poring over each page. He is a very design orientated artist and you can tell that this work is a labor of love. The cover and title page even invoke vintage movie lobby posters, which are just the icing on the cake to look at.
The issue mostly revolves around an ancient, supposedly powerful object being fought over by the titular character and a group of jetpack powered Nazi tough guys. It’s a nice little set-up for what Francavilla wants to do in the next mini-series and its an intriguing glimpse at the Black Beetle, his world, his motivations for wanting the artifact and a look at the possible big bad behind everything. Based on the strength of this issue and the gorgeous art, I’ll definitely be picking up the next Black Beetle adventure and if it upholds the quality set here, we are all in for a treat.
5 out of 5 nerds