Starting in 2015, Archie Comics will have an off-shoot imprint known as Dark Circle. A rebranding of Red Circle and headed up by editor Alex Segura, the new Dark Circle will focus on bringing some of Archie’s forgotten properties back into the spotlight, including the new crime thriller THE BLACK HOOD. 

The new on-going series will begin with a five-part arc:

“The Bullet’s Kiss – Part 1 of 5” When Philadelphia police officer Greg Hettinger stepped into the middle of a gunfight, hot lead shredded his face—and he pulled the trigger, blind. Now Greg is waking up in a world where he’s a killer, hopelessly scarred and hooked on painkillers. What does a man do when he can no longer face the world, yet still wants to do good? He puts on a hood…

I spoke with THE BLACK HOOD writer and crime novelist Duane Swierczynski about what readers can expect!

Credit: Dark Circle Comics

HitFix: For those who might not be familiar with the character, who is the Black Hood?

Duane Swierczynski: The Black Hood has been many different people over the years (in some versions, centuries), but essentially he’s a cop who feels compelled to wear a hood and fight crime on the down low. In this latest version, however, he’s a disfigured cop hooked on painkillers who hits the mean streets of the City of Brotherly Love on a revenge kick. It’s sort of my version of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call Philadelphia.


HF: Will this new version of Black Hood be similar to his Golden Age counterpart or draw more from his later incarnations?

DS: I’ll be honest; when [Dark Circle Comics] editor (and fellow crime novelist) Alex Segura first approached me about The Black Hood, I had a queasy feeling. Did I really want to do another superhero title? I didn’t know the character at all, but the sight of the man in his Golden Age version of Spanx didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. At the same time, I happened to be kicking around an idea for a “good-cop-gone-bad” novel idea. So I channeled my inner Jim Thompson and pitched Alex the darkest, most violent and depressing Black Hood pitch I could think of, figuring he’d pat me on the head, thank me for my time, and move on to somebody else. But the joke was on me, because he liked it. Not only that — but Alex and co-editor Paul Kaminski asked me to go even *darker.* 


HF: Greg Hettinger is the main character, but can you tell us a little more about his supporting cast? The villains?

DS: Greg’s a loner, but there are a few people who try to drag him back towards the light. One is his cop partner, who suspects Greg’s in some kind of trouble, but is hesitant to cross that line and outright accuse him of anything. The other is his speech therapist, who considers Greg a hero and seems to actually have a crush on him, despite the fact that he looks like Liam Neeson in Darkman.

As for villains… well, there is a Big Bad. But I’d rather that he introduce himself. You actually see him in issue #1, but I won’t say where...

Credit: Dark Circle Comics

HF: Any chance we’ll be seeing Black Hood’s team, The Mighty Crusaders?

DS: Zero chance. Then again, it might be fun to introduce a crazy right-wing do-gooder group who call themselves “The Mighty Crusaders” and try to clean up Philly through extreme gentrification. Thanks for the future villain idea, Donna!


HF: Why choose Philadelphia as the setting?

DS: I’m a Philly boy, born and raised, and this is where my imagination goes to play. Besides, my city’s way under-used in comics, TV and film. The best Philly character in recent memory — the one character I recognize as truly being from this town, and of this town — is Breaking Bad’s Mike Ehrmantraut. He’s a bad-ass straight out of the Frank Rizzo years, and I can’t wait to see more of him in “Better Call Saul.” (And I keep praying that somebody will license the character for comics, so that I can pitch my “early Mike” series: No Half Measures.)


HF: Black Hood is part of Archie’s new Dark Circle imprint. Exactly how dark are talking about here?

DS: The first issue will make Archie Andrews curl up into a little ball and cry.

Credit: Dark Circle Comics

HF: You’ve written crime fiction as well as graphic novels for years now. Is there a big difference between writing novels and comic books?

DS: Novels are a marathon, while comic scripts are a sprint. With novels, you’re sitting at a desk, alone, going slightly crazy, for anywhere from six months to a year with zero feedback. Comic scripts are full-on collaborations, not only with your artist, but your editors and colorists and letterers and PR folks, etc. Writing comics reminds me of my days as a journalist, working on a staff of fun, smart people. Writing novels reminds me of being an awkward 15-year-old typing on a Commodore 64 in his bedroom, trying to be the next Stephen King. It’s very nice to be able to do both.


HF: What drew you to this particular comic?

DS: I probably answered this earlier, but I think it was mainly to frighten Alex Segura.

Written by Duane Swierczynski and with art by Michael Gaydos, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Rachel Deering, THE BLACK HOOD #1 will be on comic book store shelves on February 25, 2015.

Mom. Wife. Geek. Gamer. Feminist. Writer. Sarcastic. Succinct. Donna has been writing snark for the Internet in one form or another for almost a decade. She has a lot of opinions, mostly on science-fiction, fantasy, feminism, and Sailor Moon. Follow her on Twitter (@MildlyAmused) for more of all these things.