Facing an energy crisis for their ever-growing population on Utopia IX, one scientist decides that culling the life energy of those deemed “unworthy” is the best solution and builds a suit that can harvest it well: the Black Suit of Death. There’s a lot of fun going on in this book, from the background characters chewing the hell out of the scenery whilst talking under the action about going to the bar after their shifts, to the very obvious and well-loved sci-fi references including my favorite - the only part of Wrath of Khan that JJ didn’t outright grab for Into Darkness. (Ye gods did that hurt.) There’s a definite sense of good, solid play here, with a myriad influences and genres jumbling together like a kid playing with many different licensed properties’ LEGO sets, where anything is possible. There’s one small timeline question that gets raised, but it’s a minor bump in an otherwise thoughtful and wildly entertaining adventure.
The art team does a great job working with the script. Stefano Cardoselli and Craig Gilliland manage to capture the Oddworld-esque vibe of the story really well and give us a colorful and, when needed, quite graphic landscape upon which the story can wend its merry way. The color palette is dark but has a lot of depth and variety and makes for some really fun moments. Once the plot kicks into the main action that no one can doubt coming, things get downright Bruce Campbell-y in only the best ways.
An interesting precursor to what seems like an interesting and oddball series, Black Suit of Death paints a world that I enjoyed visiting quite a bit. If you dig the odder Hellboy stories or just enjoy a good goofy expression of tropes in the genre, then you’re in for quite a treat.
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