Monday, October 4, 2010


TIPPIN' HANCOCK'S HAT-Reviews by Tommy Hancock "IN THE DARK"
Writer-Mike Bullock
Artist-Mike Metcalf

When reading about a character called THE BLACK BAT, I just naturally look for certain things. Fear and horror from someone in the story, and maybe a little from me as I read, a bad guy guilty of unforgivable trespasses, and the main character, THE BLACK BAT himself evoked in a way that is similar, yet different than all the ways I've seen him conjured before.

For the most part, that is all tangled up nicely in Bullock's and Metcalf's story "IN THE DARK." Rendered in wide vision, this fast paced, pleasingly torturous tale is part of an upcoming pulp magazine release from Moonstone Books.

What Mike Bullock gives the reader in the text seems at first glance a typical plot-Bad guy goes on a job for a crime boss, trips across the vengeful Black Bat, and receives judgment quickly and harshly for his illegal livelihood. Indeed, all those elements are in there, but what Bullock pulls off is a steady build of suspense, even though the end is inevitable, and an extremely interesting, well done process of character building. I can't say I actually felt sorry for the mug who literally walks into the Black Bat's clutches, but I understood him, knew what made him tick, and it made the impact of the story that much more intense.

The accompanying wide vision art of Metcalf matches the  tone of Bullock's story almost too well. A bit too black in some panels, it still manages to capture the depth of dark that permeates this story and the world of the Black Bat. Some of the images are difficult to decipher, but once you do, the effect they have on the reader, at least this one, is profound. No, wrong word, spooky.

Along with the  issues with the art, the turn of the phrase in this tale, while strong initially, gets a tad hit and miss in the middle. Once the Bat enters the scene, awkwardness sets in when the villain is sans Bat. But it does recover quite well with the ending. All in all, a neat peek into what has to be a nightly occurrence for a hero like The Black Bat.

Three out of Five Tips of Hancock’s Hat (Three tips are generally reserved for those tales that I enjoy and make for good pulp readin'.)