With Lockdown easing off and the world, roughly, returning to some degree of normalcy, it’s time for everyone to return to work. For me, that’s the bread and butter of reviewing comics. With that, we check out Mad Robot Comics’ Bete Noir, which succeeded wth it’s Kickstarter campaign last summer. However, now we can get around to check it out and determining if it is worth reader’s time or if it is THEIR ‘Bete Noire’?
Publisher: Mad Robot Comics
Writer: Andrew Clemson, Matt Hardy (Editor)
Artist: Kris Wantowhy (Art), Hde (Letters)
Price: Available as part of the issue #2 and #3 Kickstarter soon.
Bete Noir followed the story of an ageing super-villain. All washed up and with nothing left to live for this waning antagonist decides to make a change in order to take back what is his, beginning with the infiltration of a storage unit. However, while the task of breaking in seems easy enough, it’s when the deed is done that everything begins to unravel when our protagonist is caught unawares by someone he’d long since thought was dead …
With this comic, Andrew Clemson has created a truly intriguing and engrossing super-villain-centric story with a title which might offer mre insight than originally realised. Indeed, Bete Noir feels like a comic which imbues aspects of a number of different comics; the aging nature of Red Rocket Comet/Glass Hood, the megalomaniacal super-villainary of Translucid, the street level grittiness of Black Hood and the fractured ‘hero’ of Moon Knight. Indeed it feels like the latter becomes increasingly prevalent as the Clemson places so many twists and turns throughout this first issue that it leads to a whole host of questions; Is this character the eponymous Bete Noir? What is the plan this littl mission is leading to? And, maybe most interestingly, which of these characters is our protagonist.
As for art, Kris Wanotwhy’s gritty, rough style is a perfect fit for this (as the title suggests) noir-ish tale. Wantowhy’s work is incredibly reminiscent of Francesco Francavilla’ work on Black Panther: the Man without Fear mixed with a little of David Aja’s work from Immortal Iron Fist/Hawkeye. As a result, Bete Noir has a gritty look that gives it an unforgiving harshness that the character’s dialogue infers as well as the cold colours which give a sense of the twilight years and depressed outlook of our protagonists life. Finally, there are HdE’s letters, wich are wonderful subtle and take away minimal space, allowing the art to Bete Noir tell the story.
Andrew Clemson, Kris Wantowhy and company have produced a truly captivating and visually stunning comic about a villain looking to rebuild from the brink of defeat. While the cover may not give much away, this is another example of not judgin a book by it’s cover as Bete Noir leaves you with a lot of questions which you will find yourself thinking about long after you’ve read it. This is the sign of a good story and, hopefully, not one we have to wait too long for another issue.