One of the better things about Dynamite over the last few years has been their pulp and noir line of books. Featuring classic characters like The Shadow, The Spider, The Phantom, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Tarzan, John Carter, Miss Fury, The Green Hornet, Doc Savage, Flash Gordon and more, they have been bright spots in a very crowded marketplace. They harken back to a time when good and evil were black and white and justice was swift and sure. Victor Gischler, after proving himself on the Shadow, and from his own introduction to the trade paperback, was given a chance to spotlight his own creation from that series, The Black Sparrow. He does this and teams her up first with the aforementioned Shadow and then Miss Fury in this series aptly titled, Noir.
Noir would feature our heroes, as well as a bit of its namesake, mixed with some pulpy adventure for a good bit of fun. Think of it as a cross between a Tarzan adventure, King Solomon’s Mines and National Treasure. Except with superheroes. Teaming up with artist Andrea Mutti, Gischler chronicles the journey of The Black Sparrow and Miss Fury as they track down a Templar and Native American treasure replete with secret clues, a secret treasure map, chemically hopped-up villains and action galore. It is not an easy quest, but if they can make it, the treasure will be worth every ounce of hardship.
Now if you had never known that The Black Sparrow was a creation from Gischler’s fervent mind, you would think she is just another Golden-Age character that Dynamite was looking to revamp. She fits right in to the universe they are trying to build. Though not really a true hero, she is not really a villain either, just a girl that fits somewhere in the middle of it all. What also makes her quite interesting is the fact that she has no powers to speak of, making her a character that fits right in with the rest of those Golden-Age greats. She is brash and obstinate, but wily and crafty enough to use what she has to get what she wants. The Shadow is not fooled by her anymore, but Miss Fury had better watch herself when the Black Sparrow comes around.
In this tale of treasure hunting and secrets, Andrea Mutti brings it to life with his gritty looking pencils. They are a good match for the story, but there are instances where they could have been a little tighter in spots. The sequences that take place in the caves when everyone is looking for the clues that will lead them to the treasure are some of the best of the book, though all of it in fact, looks pretty good. Even though the book is a great ride in concept and execution, Mutti gives it a slightly darker tone with his artwork. It fits the characters who need that grittiness to personify this period in time as heroes were a little darker than they are now. And though the setting itself, which is a lighter kind of tale with its subject matter, his pencils work there too with the dark caverns and the city nightlife.
The writing by Gischler is strong, smart and snappy. He creates a fun little yarn with our heroes, specifically The Black Sparrow and Miss Fury and they make a surprisingly great team. They do their best to get the job done but it is hard when all they do is bicker back and forth, reiterating how it is just a team-up of convenience multiple times, and yet they could be the best of friends if they gave it a chance. That is part of what makes the book so much fun, with the rest being the adventure itself and their battles with the villains who are your standard bad guys and henchmen. The first issue which stars The Shadow is also quite lively with Gischler’s devilish dialogue. The way Lamont and Sparrow flirt with each other is quite amusing to watch and when they continue it even in the midst of the action it makes it even more exciting.
Noir has a lot going for it, aside from the witty banter, the action, the drama and the hero’s quest, it is an escape into the fantastic. The book takes you out of the real world and into one filled with costumed heroes, Templars, Native Americans and a hunt for hidden treasure. It is another in a long line of truly fun books by Dynamite starring some of the greatest characters to be found on the printed page. If you do end up reading this book, you will find that you would not be averse to The Black Sparrow receiving her own title, or perhaps another book teaming her up with some other Dynamite properties. Hopefully, she and Gischler make their return sooner, rather than later.
4 out of 5