Chapter I: Three Comic Books
Millionaire playboy Sage Tyson put on his robe and crept out of the bedroom, careful not to wake the three exhausted naked women who slumbered in his bed. Tyson could not recall their names, and trusted that his manservant would see them home. He had important matters to address before sunrise, and could afford no distractions.
In the mansion library, he sat on a divan and lit a cigarette. His mute Kurdish manservant Azu entered the room in his usual stealthy fashion; despite his enormous muscular size, Azu made no sound as he handed his friend and employer the three comic books that Tyson had requested.
“Thank you, Azu,” Tyson said. “Please see to the ladies in the morning, would you?”
Azu nodded, and left the room as quietly as he had entered, leaving Tyson to peruse his reading material. Tyson enjoyed reading comic books, and was keen to read the four-color adventure magazines he now held. Published by Dynamite Entertainment, the three comics featured pulp adventurers righting wrongs, so similar to Tyson’s own mission. He took his time reading them, enjoying his quiet respite while smoking cigarettes. Tonight he would face a dangerous adversary, and Tyson feared he might not have the chance to read other comic books.
When he was done, Tyson exited the library through the hidden tunnel that led to his secret lair. He was soon dressed in a black suit and cape, and donning a domino mask along with his signature black hat. His two .45 pistols were holstered at his hips.
Tonight, the mysterious villain who called himself “The Astrologer” would face justice from the masked vigilante known as the Black Hat.
Chapter 2: Pondering The Avenger Special 2014: The Television Killers
The Black Hat turned off the lights of his custom black Rolls-Royce motorcar as he drove up to the abandoned waterfront warehouse. There was no activity, and the vigilante would have to wait for his prey. While he did so, he thought of The Avenger Special 2014: The Television Killers comic book that he had read earlier that night.
The comic is written by Mark Rahner and illustrated by Edu Menna, with colors provided by Adriano Augusto, and features the adventures of a diverse team seeking justice – Justice, Inc. The wealthy Richard Henry Benson, also known as the Avenger, is the leader and founder of this group; after his wife and daughter were killed by criminals, Benson’s skin and hair turned stark white from the stress, and his skin became malleable so that he can mold his features, making Benson a master of disguise. Benson now uses his skills to help people.
In 1939, the Justice, Inc. team works two cases – something is turning people into cannibalistic zombies, while singer Billie Holiday reaches out to Benson for help, because a racist gang leader is threatening to kill Holiday in order to prevent her appearance on the new broadcast medium of television.
The comic has a lot going on, and the creative team uses the story to resolve not only two separate cases, but also introduce readers to the various team members of Justice, Inc. and their personal motivations for justice. Rahner’s script does a great job of making the characters compelling, so that even readers unfamiliar with past Avenger stories can follow along quite easily. The story is clunky at some points, but Rahner’s script is entertaining, and the writer has clearly done some good historical research on the 1939 World’s Fair and Billie Holiday.
The art team does an excellent job of distinguishing the different characters and depicting all the action in the comic book. Menna’s art is clean and crisp, and Augusto’s colors are bright and bold. The Avenger Special 2014: The Television Killers is a comic that tries to tackle big issues involving racism and a modern consumption culture, and while it has some narrative flaws, the comic is entertaining.
Chapter 3: The Murder Golem
The Black Hat’s musings were interrupted when his car was suddenly attacked by one of the Astrologer’s robots. The lumbering behemoth’s gigantic claws ripped the door off the Rolls-Royce, and the Black Hat quickly jumped from the car and ran to the robot’s side, pulling his pistols from their holsters. The robot turned to pursue its quarry. The Astrologer’s murder golem charged at the Black Hat.
Behind him, the Black Hat could hear the maniacal laughter of the Astrologer.
The Black Hat review pulp novel continues here!