Saturday, April 29, 2006


Out of the Night, When the Full Moon is Bright

As readers of my small press novel Voices of Thunder know (well, all six of them, at any rate) I've got a real weakness for the masked hero subgenre of adventure fiction: Zorro, the Lone Ranger, the Shadow, et cetera, et al. So the news that comic publisher Speakeasy was going belly up last month particularly stung because the premier issue of The Black Coat was scheduled for that very week. I'd first discovered the character--a sort of Zorro/Batman/Shadow for colonial America--through artist Francesco Francavilla's posts on Sketchbook Sessions, and had been looking forward to the publication of the comic for some time.

Well, here comes Ape Entertainment to the rescue (and with a name like that, how could they be bad?), getting the issue in print and into stores only weeks after its original release date. Available in finer comic shops everywhere, The Black Coat #1 is the first of a four issue miniseries.

Who is the Black Coat? Here's the description of the character, from the creators' website:
Nathaniel Finch is a budding scientist, a successful business man, and the editor of a weekly newspaper in New York City. An exceptionally intelligent and hard working man, Nathaniel could easily have found himself to be one of the most influential men in the Colonies, knee deep in politics, along side men like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin. But as much as Nathaniel might be tempted to lead what some would call an 'ordinary life', he has a different set of priorities. Perhaps better than anyone, he knows that there are things in this world – mysterious, unexplainable, deadly things - that represent more of a threat to life and liberty than taxation without representation.

To combat these threats and to keep those around him safe, Nathaniel Finch has become the masked spy known as The Black Coat. Even as a revolutionary war is burgeoning around him, The Black Coat, assisted by a network of agents, fights another kind of war - a war unseen by most men. His determination, skill, and wits are his only defenses against ancient curses, mythical creatures, and enchanted science.

From the outset, the idea was vintage pulp, with a nice historical twist, and the art was superb, so the only question that remained was whether the execution would hold up. Well, it does, in spades. The hero's quips in battle are occasionally a bit much, and I seriously doubt that 18C colonial strumpets walked around in strapless evening gowns, but those are minor quibbles. Where the story really needed to come through, it absolutely did. A fast-paced, rollicking pulp adventure, and well worth the price of admission.

Reading it, I was reminded that Michael Stewart and Bret Blevins have been doing a great series of "Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" shorts in the pages of Disney Adventures. Whether that suggests that Disney plans to revive the Dr. Syn character in some other medium, I'm not sure, but the little four page stories of Stewart and Blevins make for nice little bite-sized snacks.

Thanks, Chris!
I'm glad you liked it! :)
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by 

Blogger. Isn't yours?