Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Black Hood - Superhero Musical Chairs

The Black Hood was introduced to comic readers through cameos in all the !mpact titles, as the character travelled across the country and encountered different heroes along his travel, until he came to his ultimate destination.

The Black Hood was basically a Punisher rip-off. He spoke in gravelly tones, he got "justice" by shooting the bad guys with his guns (of which he had a lot) and basically he was the perfect "anti-hero." This all led to the pages of Black Hood #1, where Black Hood finally came face to face with the big bad guys he was tracking all the way to Seaside City. It was here that the second-in-command of the mob he was tracking went and, well, killed him.

Shot him right in the head.

So the Black Hood was dead.

!mpact Comics did stuff like this a lot. They tried as much as possible to be "different," to shock and surprise the readers. In many ways, it reminds me of the Ultraverse. Remember Exiles? That was an Ultraverse title where a group of basically mutants all banded together to form a team. Well, the last issue demonstrated that they were not at all cut out to be a team, as everyone was killed except for a couple of characters. Ultraverse pushed it as "See? In the Ultraverse, you never know WHAT to expect!" They even solicited Exiles #5 and 6 to trick even the retailers. Well, !mpact did stuff like that as well, and one of them was the idea that the Black Hood, who the reader followed from title to title, finally gets his own title - and promptly is killed in the first issue.

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Of course, the twist is that the Black Hood is the hero, NOT the person who wears the Hood. So two local kids that the Black Hood had brought with him to locate the bad guys come across the hood, and one of the kids puts it on to save his friend (as the bad guys who killed the Black Hood did not take kindly to the idea of witnesses being around). Seventeen-year-old Nate Cray finds himself kicking the butts of the mobsters and dodging gunfire with ease. He is the NEW Black Hood!

So the series continues, as Nate gets used to the idea of being the Black Hood, until he is so disgusted at what the mask is forcing him to do (the mask makes the wearer a bit more vicious in the dispensing of justice) that he gets rid of the mask, which is found by the man who killed the other Hood in the first issue!! This man becomes the third Black Hood in this title, using the mask to get revenge upon his boss (who the man feels has betrayed him). Ultimately, he gives the Hood back to Nate, as he no longer has any need for it (and the mask tells him it wants to be with Nate).

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The definite stand-out in the series is Rich Burchett's artwork. His design work, as well as just his artwork, was just utterly top notch. Mark Wheatley's writing was good, but not as good as the artwork.

#1 was good, with the nice hook at the end.

#2 and #3 lagged a bit, but had some nice interaction with a possible love interest for Nate.

#4 and #5 were the worst, as we get introduced to a "out of nowhere" film-making desire of Nate's, which leads to an odd discussion with his mother, which reverts to a whole 'nother NICE discussion with his mother, which directly proceeds the introduction of a super villain, Ozone. Ozone's POWERS were cool (he can open up tiny holes in the ozone layer, sending direct sunlight burning down like lasers), but his background and visuals were VERY weak. However, the scene where Nate is disgusted at how happy he is to (seemingly) have killed Ozone was priceless. Really showed Nate's mettle.

#6 was a nice issue showing how the #2 mobster guy, Horton "Hit" Cofffee, is being driven nuts by his boss. The whole issue is basically driving him to become the Black Hood, which he does, to take down his boss. That leads to #7, which is a rhyming issue telling the story of the mobster's use of the Hood while also the background of his boss, who he is trying to usurp, and DOES by issue's end.

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#8 has Neil Vokes art over Rich Burchett breakdowns, which is weird to see. In any event, it is a funny issue, as Hit Coffee has now become the big boss man, so he no longer needs to be the Black Hood, so he wants to drop it altogether. However, in #6, in his first act as Black Hood, he took along a witness to one of his crimes, and he just wants the guy gone. But Hit is not a totally vicious man, so he doesn't want to KILL the guy. So he keeps leaving objects around to let the man escape, and he watches him on monitors, screaming, "ESCAPE!" But the man is scared, so he doesn't. Funny stuff. It turns out, though, that this man is Nate's best friend's dad. So the two of them try to save the father. Hit gets involved, but really only to push them TOWARDS saving the guy, because he wants him gone. Like I said, funny, clever stuff.

At the end, Hit gives up the hood to Nate.

That is where we leave off.

The art on this comic is great, and the story is pretty good as well (except for the Ozone disaster). So I would recommend this comic.

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Blogger Bill Reed said...

Sounds wacky! I think I've only got #7... must look for the rest.

9/20/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

Sounds like a more tightly-connected version of "H-E-R-O."

God, I miss "H-E-R-O."

9/20/2005 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

HERO, or indeed, The Mask. But with more guns and 90's angst, apparently.

9/20/2005 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

The Black Hood was one a dang good comic.

Late in the series, we find out the origin of the hood. It started as an executioner's hood from centuries ago. A sorcerer facing execution placed a spell on the hood, cursing it so that whoever wore it could do only good. Said sorcerer figured that the executioner would then let him go.

Nope. The hood drives whoever wears it to do what the wearer considers to be the right thing. Since the sorcerer was justly convicted in the eyes of the axeman, well, oops.

When Hit Coffee, a mid-level gangster, gets the hood, he uses it to ascend the hierarchy of his mob. Since his given name was Horton, the issue was written in Dr. Seuss style and called "Horton Wears a Hood."

The Punisher-like guy who wore the hood, Wayne Sidmonson, was originally a kind family man. The hood warped him. That it might do the same to young Nate Cray was part of the appeal of the series.


9/20/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

The series writer Mark Wheatley gave a slightly different interpretation, Harvey.

According to him in a Comics Scene interview promoting the series, the unnamed sorcerer died because he really was evil.

The Black Hood compels whoever wears it to do good, but not necesarily good as recognized by the human's own concept of justice. Note that Priate Blue got physically ill when she made contact with the Hood in the Black Hood annual, because her concept of "good" was adverse to the Hood's.

9/20/2005 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

Oops. It's been a year or two since I read the series.

I should dig it out of my Comic Repository. A fine read it was.

9/21/2005 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this comic, well the one ish
that i had.. #2 with the eyes on the cover,
a very cinematic comic.

2/06/2007 06:50:00 AM  
Anonymous generic viagra said...

Indeed it was an excellent comic book, many of the sagas plot were so original.

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