Despite the delay, Francesco Francavilla’s “The Black Beetle: No Way Out” #4 maintains its luster and sway. Providing every aspect of this comic book, Francavilla proves to be a consummate artistic professional — or maybe professional artist. Everything in this comic book comes from Francavilla and all praise or derision should be directed his way.
Lucky for the artist as well as the readers, “The Black Beetle: No Way Out” #4 is positively enjoyable. Francavilla buttons up this first adventure in clean fashion. It’s a solid finale, but a little too tidy without definitive conclusions, which plays to the tropes of the medium and the book’s pulp filter. After all, some threads have to be left dangling for new stories to pull on them. This comic, while wrapping things up and providing closure in many regards, is a surprisingly quick — but rewardingly thick — read.
Given that the writer and artist are one and the same, this comic is less a story drawn from a script and more a complete collection of collage-worthy imagery. Black Beetle has a confrontation with his foe, Labyrinto, where the two of them discuss the adventures that led to their monologue-swapping, pulp adventure confrontation, each with a gun leveled at the other’s midsection. The background of the scene is not traditional panel work, but a puzzle coming together on the page, providing readers with a picture of how the mystery comes together. Francavilla’s artwork is filled with lush shadows and rich texture absorbed from his cross-hatching and delicate but bold brushwork. This story would be simply gorgeous in black and white, but Francavilla adds colors. He doesn’t over-color anything, but instead delivers chromatic emphasis that could almost be achieved with the utilitarian boldness of a Crayola eight-pack. There are no extraneous, pretty colors here, but the coloring itself is definitely pretty. Francavilla just seems to know what he’s doing from start to finish with minimal effort, as though he exhales artwork in a finished state.
As the saying goes, you can’t rush perfection. Any tardiness this title experienced is most certainly the result of Francavilla polishing and re-polishing, trying to deliver the very best to his fans. “The Black Beetle: No Way Out” #4 draws this one adventure to a close, but offers hope for more. This conclusion will certainly have fans itching for the further adventures of the Black Beetle.