Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh

Very glad I found this in W.H. Smiths. Written by Alec Worley with art by Dani, Black Beth is the revival by Rebellion of an obscure British comic originally created in the 1970s (but unused at the time) with one published story appearing in the Scream! Holiday Special in 1988.

This is the third adventure of the current version of Black Beth, a sword-and-sorcery “slayer” character (Worley has described her as a mashup of Red Sonja and The Punisher). Beth’s motivation, established in the original story, is “to combat evil in all its vile forms”.

Dani’s art is gorgeous and is the big draw of this comic. The watercolour palette – lush purples, pinks and turquoises – and sketchy inks place it immediately in the European comics tradition, inviting comparisons with Italian creator, Sergio Toppi.

In this issue, Beth and her sightless companion, Guido are recruited by Seer Estevan to prevent the dead sorceress, Anis-Amuun from returning to destroy the city of Al-Kadesh. Beth and Guido travel to the Isle of Phantoms, encountering monsters along the way. It’s a straightforward fantasy tale told at a terrific pace.

There’s a second 3-page Beth story, Fairy Tales, with black and white art by Andrea Bulgarelli, that shows Beth’s zealous nature and how her relentless campaign against evil means she’s “on the road to damnation”. Guido demonstrates his role in this as a moral compass for Beth.

A 10-page Death Man story by Doug Graves and Vincenzo Riccardi closes the comic. It’s a superhero horror story. I’m not at all familiar with this character it seemed to me to be heavily Image of the 90s-influenced. It’s a shame that Rebellion didn’t commission another Beth story or, at least, republish the 1988 adventure.

I must remember to keep an eye on Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics site as they’re doing fantastic work in reviving many forgotten UK comics and characters that are simply wonderful.