“The Lonely Crusade, Part 1” Greg Hettinger returns to Philadelphia and promises his closest friend, Jessie Dupree, that his hood-wearing vigilante days are over. But it’s a promise he’s going to struggle to keep — especially when a gang calling themselves “The Crusaders” are prowling the City of Brotherly Love, scooping up “undesirables” and asking if they want to be saved..
It’s an undetermined amount of time from the previous issue, Greg has just arrived back home, supposedly having kicked his painkiller addiction, and resumes his job as a cop. But as we see, this still isn’t so easy for him, as only his friend and partner Devon wants anything to do with him, as far as the police goes. And he still faces alienation, and sometimes ridicule, from the general public due to his facial scars (it’s been awhile since I read the early issues of this series, so I don’t recall if it was ever explained why he can’t get plastic surgery for that). But Greg tries his best. Jesse comes around to check on him (it’s not clear if she’s still technically his therapist), and one night when she comes over to make him dinner, she tells him about a young teen that her friend a social worker was counseling has gone missing. She asks him if he could look into it, which Greg agrees. When Greg brings it up to Devon the next, Devon mentions that recently some homeless street kids that he tries to look after have also gone missing. So he agrees to help Greg investigate. However their efforts don’t get very far, which is what leads Greg to finally give in to going out as The Black Hood again, betting that he’ll have better luck that way.
Writer Duane Swierczynski does an excellent job in showing how, for Greg, being The Black Hood is just like a drug. He has managed to (barely) stay off the painkillers, the pull of the Hood is much stronger. And even he realizes this. When he finally gives in and puts the Hood on and goes out at night, he has this euphoric feeling, it’s like being high for him.
Of course, if you’re familiar with this series, then you knows those highs don’t tend to last. As The Black Hood, and us the readers, gets a look at who it is that’s kidnapping the various street people, he realizes that he very well might have bitten off more than he can chew, thus ending this story on a dramatic cliffhanger.
Regular artist Michael Gaydos returns with this issue, and does an excellent job. Like I said before, his style just fits the tone of this story so well. I continue to be impressed. Chacebook rating: 5 STARS