Monday, January 14, 2013

Night Shift

The Black Beetle #0, by Francesco Francavilla

People these days are always doing comics inspired by the pulp magazines of the past. Here is the latest one, a standalone issue of a comic from Dark Horse that may soon be an exciting standalone series. Its plot involves some Nazi stormtroopers who arrive in still neutral America in 1941 to steal some ancient Egyptian artefact of immense occult power. But when they arrive at the museum where it is being stored they are eventually foiled by the titular Black Beetle, a gun-toting masked vigilante who is definitely very different to any other masked adventurers going by a beetle themed name.

The art has a grotty quality that is evocative of the cheap and nasty fun one is meant to get from things pulpy. The shadows and darkness give it all a somewhat noir feel. But the story is a bit slight, spending more or less the entire issue on a not particularly exciting fight in the museum. I feel that a comic should be delivering far more thrill power if it aspires to follow in the footsteps of the classic pulps.

That said, the fascination many writers feel for the pulps is an interesting one. If we assume that it is one shared by the readers, then I do find myself wondering whether publishers would be better off just arranging for cheap reprints of original pulp material, which is now often hard to come by. If people really are so intrigued by things pulpy, would they not rather read the real deal than the work of imitators writing decades after the fact?

Image source (another review)

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