The Black Beetle’s seen a lot of crazy stuff in the course of his latest case, but can he handle a man coming back from beyond? While we start off with our hero scoping out a jazz club and chatting up a female crooner, things quickly turn to action in the penultimate issue of this arc.
PREVIOUSLY in “The Black Beetle”: After investigating underneath the burned-out building, The Black Beetle had a nasty run in with a managing man made up like a maze. This guy threw our hero into a pit full of hungry rats, but the Beetle managed to escape with his life, and a clue…
Nary a syllable is wasted in this latest installment of the Black Beetle’s adventures from writer and artist Francesco Francavilla. It’s a tightly written story with perfect pacing that keeps you so engaged that you’re unable to turn the pages fast enough.
The Beetle, following up on his lead from the rat-infested underground, conducts some undercover work at The Coco Club, owned by the late Faccia D’Angelo. While chatting up the club’s delicious resident lounge singer, he spots a familiar face—one that should belong to a dead man—and gives chase. Following a short workshop in which he schools some thugs in The Sweet Science, The Beetle heads to the morgue to verify his suspicions.
The Intermezzo sequence in this issue wins the prize for creepiness when pitted against its predecessors. In this one, the familiar figure professes, in Latin, his adoration for Angitia, a healer goddess worshipped by ancient Italian snake charmers, who also happens to be the sister of Medea and Circe. Next to the idol of Angitia sits a photo of Antonia Howard, who we met in #0 and whose picture has been making occasional appearances since then. Might she be the avatar of Angitia, or at least believed to be?
PAGING DR. STANWYCK, DR. FINE, DR. STANWYCK
I expect nothing less than visual brilliance from Francavilla and he failed to disappoint me in this outing. The first page is a nine-panel affair from The Beetle’s perspective as he scans the club, drinking in the surroundings and taking stock of the characters one might find in such a lurid establishment. Outside the panels is the wonderful visual embellishment of sheet music with lyrics—specifically the lusty yarn being performed on stage during the scene. It’s relevant to the story and it’s a creative way to show the protagonist’s aural surroundings to the reader. This and the two two-page spreads for the fight sequence outside the club vie for my favorite visuals this issue.
The scene inside the morgue also stood out for me because of its attention to detail, limited color use and a nice reference to old Hollywood tucked away in a coroner’s report.
BOTTOM LINE: BLACK BEETLE, WHY CAN’T I QUIT YOU?
It would be easy to let Francavilla’s images hypnotize even the most savvy reader into loving a poorly written book, but this is thankfully not one of those. His story holds up just as well as the art and I’m left, once again, desperate for next month’s installment of “The Black Beetle.”. If you’ve not yet read this book, use the time between now and issue No. 4 to get caught up; it’s a great story and you’re cheating yourself if you’re not reading it. The Black Beetle – No Way Out #3 earns 5 stars.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!