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WHAT I'M READING: BLACK BEETLE AND X-MEN

The first issue of Black Beetle (No.0) is colored unconventionally and attractively: a limited palette adds only one color on many pages — red (and pinks). Some pages have a second color, blue. Otherwise, Francesco Francavilla’s chiaroscuro black drenches the pages. All very effective. I suspect Francavilla’s use of blank-eyed goggles for both the hero and the villains owes something to Lobster Johnson, as does the headlong dash of the Black Beetle’s mode of righting wrongs. But the story itself seems oddly antique, the sort of corny dialogue and overblown action that we used to see, ages ago, in serial movies on Saturday afternoons. Too bad — unless old-timey noir is your cup of tea. BeetleXmen0001

Long ago, I gave up trying to keep track of the X-Men. I was a devoted follower of their adventures until Phoenix had to die after killing off the whole population of a planet. Then the X-World seemed to multiply all over the place and in all directions at once and go generally looney. But I picked up the first two issues of All-New X-Men because I saw Stuart Immonen’s name on the cover. Inside, he doesn’t disappoint. Clean linework, expert rendering of anatomy and — in particular — faces. Skillful storytelling — pacing, layouts, visual variety. What a pleasure. The story? Oh, sorry: I’m enjoying Immonen too much to actually soak up the story.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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