Greg Hettinger is living the unglamorous life of a vigilante who's willing to take a beating to give a beating. In 'The Black Hood' #4 poor Greg starts off taking quite a beating from two of The Connection's thugs. Unlike Batman or Daredevil, there are no gadgets or heightened senses to help take these gorillas down. Greg has to rely on his street smarts and brawling tactics to survive aided with only the painkillers flowing through his bloodstream. This is the kind of treatment one gets when trying to topple the drug lord's business.
Duane Swiercznski seems to love having his imperfect protagonist wrestle in the mud with the pigs. It makes for a grimier, grittier, and more compelling story when your hero is a flawed but well-meaning figure. The Black Hood on the streets is more of a myth than man. Greg embodies that now but it's been a work in progress. The idea of the hooded vigilante certainly helps in intimidating the lower level crooks, but the high-ranking kingpins aren't as easily shook. So when framing Greg didn't work it's all out war on the streets of Philadelphia.
Swiercznski's decision to having Greg narrate the series works to great effect because the running monologue keeps the reader in Greg's head. We know what he's thinking and even when he makes the wrong decision we know that he knows he screwed up. It's an honest dialogue between the junkie vigilante cop and us.
Greg gets in another tight spot and has only 48 hours to take down The Connection. He has no choice but to get help and luckily he calls in a couple of favors. This is going to lead to Greg's last stand to bring The Connection down.
No one seems more suited than Michael Gaydos to bring this ugly world of street crime and street justice to life. It's as though Gaydos filters his art through used coffee filters. The grainy scenes play out under seemingly overcast skies and Sephia-toned landscapes keeping the action as brutal as the surface of Greg's scarred and pockmarked face. It's like looking at the storyboard of Martin Scorcese's Mean Streets.
Needless to say but Gaydos lays the foundation for Swiercznski's cruel mind to wander.
Archie's Dark Circle Comics have done The Black Hood right. They've honored its past and deconstructed the urban vigilante with a flawed and very human character. I can't recommend The Black Hood more as it leads to the exciting climax of its first arc. This is a must buy.