Overview

The Black Coat 48 Page Special (ADVANCE)

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The Black Coat 48 Page Special (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Ben Lichius
  • Art: Gabriel Hardman & Ben Lichius
  • Inks: Gabriel Hardman & Jeremy Colwell
  • Colors: Joe Suitor
  • Story Title: ?Heart of Ice?, ?First Blood?
  • Publisher: Ape Entertainment
  • Price: $6.95

The Revolutionary War hero returns in two special stand-alone stories and faces all new supernatural threats!

After the stunning freshman outing The Black Coat: A Call to Arms, the series took a hiatus before returning with the first issue of the new miniseries …Or Give Me Death. Unfortunately that series ran into problems and disappeared for a time. Now writer and creator Ben Lichius returns with a 48 page one-shot that not only brings the Black Coat back into the public eye, it also delves a little bit into the character’s history. In the two self-contained stories readers get to see a little bit of the Black Coat’s first brushes with the supernatural.

Both stories are several years before the events of A Call to Arms when a young Nathaniel Finch has already crafted his dashing alter ego and assembled a cadre of agents. In "Heart of Ice", travelers begin to show up horribly murdered on the road to New York and British and Colonial forces blame rogue Native Americans but Nathaniel is not so sure. When he saves a young Native American woman from a group of British soldiers he learns that there is a monster in the woods… and another monster of a different sort on the trail. But can this young man of science come to believe in the supernatural… before it kills him? In the second story, Nathaniel and his cohorts must battle a dragon accidentally unleashed on the Colonies… or is it so accidental after all?

Of the two stories presented here, "Heart of Ice" is the meatier of the two. It is also the one with the most uphill battle. Unlike the first series, which featured analogues of easily recognizable monsters, this story has something that resembles the myth of the Wendigo – a less commonly known story. There is also some Norse-like mythology thrown in and the results are antagonists who require a bit more explanation and set-up and do not resonate as solidly in the tale. Additionally, the Native American girl seems to occasionally strike a stereotypical chord and the Pidgin English dialogue does not really help and is not entirely consistent either. These items, however, are the only complaints for two otherwise interesting and action-packed stories. Making these tales the Black Coat’s first encounters with the supernatural allows Lichius to slip in an extra bit of character and plot development.

Each of the two stories has different artists with Gabriel Hardman handling "Heart of Ice" and Lichius himself taking "First Blood". Hardman handles the work beautifully with a nice level of detail. He captures both the bustle of Colonial New York and the wilds of the shadowy woods keeping the story properly atmospheric. Lichius, on the other hand, keeps the level of detail but takes a softer, sleeker style. His background in video game development comes through as his work has a more animation-based look to it. This impression is increased by the fact that this story is in color – a first for The Black Coat. The characters in "First Blood" under Lichius’s artwork look dashing and heroic and there is a real sense of swashbuckling action here as well.

If you have never picked up an issue of The Black Coat before then this is the perfect place to start. The two stories contained here are new reader friendly and encapsulate all the Gothic chills, action thrills, quirky anachronistic inventions, and characterizations of the previous stories. If you are already a fan then this is well worth adding to the collection for the two new tales and the added bonus of a color story. Don a mask, grab a Tricorne hat and dust off your black coat – the Revolutionary War’s hero is back.

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