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‘Sins of the Black Flamingo’ TPB (review)

Written by Andrew Wheeler
Art by Travis Moore
Published by Image Comics

 

Just go ahead and buy this one already.

My words, which I hope are delightful and informative, are kinda useless, but I’ll try anyhow.

First off, would you like a story about a fabulous gay man who’s a cat burglar and master thief?

Now, how about if we patch in the occult to make it one part Indiana Jones treasure hunt, and two parts John Constantine?

What if we set it in Miami, and had a slice of Carl Hiassen Florida noir, too?

I mean, this is how our main character, Sebastian Harlow aka the Black Flamingo, introduces himself.

“I am the Black Flamingo, gentleman thief. (NB: Gender is a construct and all property is theft.) I rob from the rich because the poor have nothing worth taking. I steal magic artifacts from idiots and dilettantes, and I put them where they belong. And I look good doing it.”

See? You’re already gathering up your metaphorical notebooks, stuffing textbooks into backpacks and getting up from your desks.

Travis Moore’s tremendous art makes this trade paperback, collecting a five-issue miniseries, fly by with delightful speed. Everyone’s some specific piece of gorgeous in this book, even the American fascist villains we meet. Comics are meant to be fantasy, and this one is dripping in sexy gay male fantasy that mainstream comics excluded for so long. A Tom of Finland-inspired dream sequence that opens issue #4 stands among the best stretches in the series.

The sculpted and taut physiques of Harlow and some other male characters he encounters in Sins of the Black Flamingo are not the power fantasy of heteronormative comics by male creators. And it makes sense that Moore, who co-created this comic, also spent time illustrating Nightwing – the sexiest man (and best butt) in the DC Universe.

I will say, though, it would be nice to see a wider range of male bodies in the next go-round.

Besides all that eye candy, a fun story with some psychological depth also occurs. We find out dark pasts, occult horrors, historical traumas, and more. Magical artifacts also give way to magical beings, helicopter getaways, even a rocket launcher on a highway.

Do I care to think through the double- and triple-crosses, all the elaborate ruses and games afoot from page to page?

Nope! Not one bit. They might not add up, but I was having too much fun to care.

I do hope that if these stories continue, we’ll get more dimensions added to Ofelia, Harlow’s witch companion just itching to break more out of the Black best friend box. The next miniseries could be about something going on with Ofelia that Harlow is drawn into, for example, but Ofelia drives the action.

So please, please get yourself into this comic before Lukas Gage stars in a TV show about this.

Grade: B

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