Bento Review: The Blacklist Volume 1

Comic Bento’s theme this month is “As Seen on TV”.  I can’t say I was overly thrilled by anything in the box this time around, but I might be pleasantly surprised about a couple of them.  We’ll see.

First up, a licensed book based off the NBC series The Blacklist.


Here’s the thing:  I’ve only ever seen one episode of The Blacklist.  It was the pilot episode on Netflix, and, for one reason or another, I never went back to it.  It wasn’t bad or anything.  I’ve just seen better.

The basic concept is master criminal genius Red Reddington walks into FBI headquarters one day and surrenders for reasons unknown.  He’s compiled a “blacklist” of over 200 different criminal mastermind types that the FBI largely didn’t know existed but who are all up to some truly heinous stuff.  Reddington will help the FBI catch these guys, but only on the condition that his sole go-between be a very specific young woman just out of the Academy.  Why her?  He won’t say.  Instead, he’ll eat the best food, live a rather luxurious lifestyle, and look down his nose at everyone else.  As played by James Spader, the character can be quite compelling.

Of course, the premise described that way sure sounds a lot like Silence of the Lambs with Reddington being a less-cannibalistic version of Hannibal Lecter.  That’s the big reason why I haven’t to date gone back for more.

So, what’s going on with this book?  Well, in what is probably the least gory or swear-filled Titan Comic I’ve yet seen, series writer Nicole Dawn Phillips (who also works for the show) crafts a tale of “The Gambler,” a criminal from Red’s past who is actually dangerous but not on the Blacklist.  An associate of his is, and that seems to be the main criminal.  The Blacklist criminal is a terrorist-for-hire who specializes in using the media to make his targets look bad and then hit them.  His current target is the FBI.

And something about this doesn’t make sense.  The initial attack frames the FBI for a murder of a young activist, and it makes sense for there to be outrage directed at the agency for that action.  But the subsequent attacks are against the FBI, and that somehow makes them look even more suspicious rather than, you know, sympathetic.

Factor in I also didn’t know who most of the characters were or what they did.  I knew about Reddington and his contact, Agent Keen, but the rest?  Total blanks.

That probably hampered my enjoyment a bit.  Beni Lobel’s artwork, while trying to capture the looks of the actors, also made them look a little stiff physically and emotionally.  That sort of stuff might work better for a fan of the series, but not for me.  Seven out of ten fedora hats.  The mystery wasn’t bad, but I don’t think I could enjoy it as well as I would want to.

NEXT BOOK:  Um, what?  This exists?  Um, OK.  Looks like next is The Garbage Pail Kids.  I am so not looking forward to this one…

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