Current Reviews


Black Coat #1

Posted: Saturday, April 22, 2006
By: Ray Tate

"Call to Arms" Part One

Writer: Ben Lichius and Adam Cogan
Artist: Fracesco Francavilla(p), Jeremy Colwell(partial inks)
Publisher: Ape Entertainment

The Black Coat is a fine addition to pulp tradition and buccaneer fiction. The title character is a masked avenger operating in the Colonies at the cusp of the Revolutionary War in 1775. His environs are rife with pirates, Hessian assassins and worse. The Red Coats are merely a nuisance when compared to what Black Coat finds during his crusade.

Lichius' and Cogan's dialogue tersely gets Black Coat's message across to the reader. Fracesco Francavilla's remarkable and evocative pencils portray the Black Coat's hero type. He is a technological hero but blends with the shadows. His inventions and operatives echo back to such champions as Doc Savage and the Shadow, and his period trappings allude to Patrick McGoohan's Scarecrow of Romney Marsh and the ribald Jack of All Trades. I wouldn't be surprised if the authors weren't inspired by the former since that show also featured in its cast a character named Finch; here the surname of the Black Coat.

In this issue, the Black Coat, after scuttling a pirate ship whose Captain is neither a one-dimensional "aaar-matey" privateer nor a blood thirsty monster, discovers strong evidence of a traitor among his men and a missing agent who turns up dead and mutilated. The Black Coat's investigation leads to the discovery of a conspiracy out to snuff his candle, and the conspirators resemble a pair of well known fictional characters.

Black Coat takes advantage of a seldom explored arena for crime and corruption that fosters the birth of an interesting hero with ideas beyond the time frame in which he battles. Aye, I think I'll wear this book awhile to see how it fits.

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