The latest issue of THE BLACK BAT reads a lot like a procedural cop drama, if the cops were all too foulmouthed for prime-time TV, and also scared out of their wits over how powerless they are in a city overrun by dangerous mobsters and a vigilante that steps in to do the job they can't. All of the real detective work is done by a guy in a mask with a penchant for leaving messages and a talent for landing in the sight of someone's gun.
Buccellato was born to write hard-boiled vigilantes. The tone is spot-on, and everyone's voice is just right, from the questionably-motivated-but-helpful Carol to the Scarface-quoting thug to Silk, the sometimes-clean junkie with just enough information to be dangerous. The Black Bat himself continues to be rough around the edges; a hero with a bit of dirt on the surface. If Robin Hood robbed from the rich and kept a little off the top for some wheels, he'd be in good company with Tony Quinn.
The art on this book continues to be pitch-perfect for the story. It's boldly-inked, and has a little bit of an old-school feel, and the colors are dirty and desaturated -- exactly right for a grimy, crime-riddled city and its cops and mobsters.
I love a good snarky hint about how the city is in the toilet, but I think I'd be okay not reading the phrase "explosive bowel movement" in future issues. (I also solemnly vow never to use that phrase in a review again.)
THE BLACK BAT might be a pulp revival, but it's appropriately modern despite the old-school grit. An enjoyably interesting cast of characters and a consistent underlying threat keep things moving forward, and the Black Bat is a flawed but honest hero who's easy to like. We're teed up for heavy action in the next issue, and I'm sticking around to see what happens with that bomb.